Public wine festival, offshore boat racing may be in Collier's plans

With room for only two people, the streamlined racing boats hit average speeds of nearly 80 miles per hour during the second Sunday race.

Photo by Jessica Waters, Banner // Buy this photo

With room for only two people, the streamlined racing boats hit average speeds of nearly 80 miles per hour during the second Sunday race.

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New events, including an offshore boat race, could soon lure visitors to Collier County.

A draft of a strategic plan for marketing the destination next fiscal year includes suggestions of a boat race and a food and wine festival.

Every year, the private Naples Winter Wine Festival draws people from around the world, including celebrity chefs and award-winning vintners.

The new food and wine festival would be open to the public and would be held at a different time of the year, most likely in the summer, said Jack Wert, Collier's tourism director, at a Tourist Development Council meeting Monday.

He said he'd already met with a national event promoter, who would require $150,000 upfront for such an event, and a promotions manager with American Express, a potential partner.

Wert said he'd already met with a promoter of offshore boat races in Sarasota and Key West too, but that holding one could be cost prohibitive, unless a local organizing committee can be formed to help raise the money for it.

With 30 miles of shoreline, the race could be a great one for this area, giving a nice boost to local hotels, he said.

County commissioners will vote on the strategic plan in October.

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