The Englewood Beach Water Festival returns this weekend with free admission for SWFL residents | Tech US News

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ENGLEWOOD, Fla. — The popular Englewood Beach Water Festival is back in 2022, and it’s just days away. The weekend will be full of speedboats and racing on the Charlotte County waterfront. It is an event that attracts millions of dollars from people all over the country.

The beach has been a popular spot since it reopened after Hurricane Ian. However, the number of people on the sand today is nothing compared to what you can expect this weekend with race day just around the corner.

“Look at this place, it’s beautiful down here. the water is beautiful, the sand,” said Stephen Gardiner, chairman of Waterfest. “People are coming from Michigan, New York, Ohio, Indiana, probably 20-30 states, so it’s going to be a big party. Everyone is smiling, having a good time, and I don’t think it’s because of the alcohol.”

“Oh, this is a lot of fun. You see a lot of people coming from other cities. You see all those big speedboats. It’s very exciting,” added George Vega.

This year, Waterfest had to deal with a few different obstacles before the main event, which included the remnants of Hurricane Ian.

“We’ll have over 20 boats out there checking for debris and animals: manatees, dolphins, whatever. We also have a helicopter, you know it goes around with the races, so if we see anything, yeah, they’re going to take it down,” Gardiner said.

Community members were also concerned about the growing red tide problem. As of today, there is no visible fish kill or respiratory tract irritation on the beach.

Despite the challenges, 60 to 70 boats are entered to compete, including Nate Hunt and Predator from Naples.

“Obviously we’re looking forward to the World Cup, that’s the main reason for the whole thing and our progress … we’re hoping to finish the season on top,” Hunt said.

He and his team will head north tomorrow.

If you’re on the fence about coming out to watch the races, there’s an incentive for Southwest Florida residents.

“Anyone who lives in Charlotte, Sarasota, DeSoto and Lee counties….if they can prove they live there, general admission is free,” Gardiner said.

Racing starts at 10am on both days this weekend. Make sure you get there early to miss the traffic.

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