Tortuga Festival sponsors say they’ll be back in Fort Lauderdale next year

Rock the Ocean’s inaugural Tortuga Festival drew more than 25,000 people to the sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach over a two-day span earlier this month, according to organizers.

“For a first year show, I think we did really well,” said Chris Stacey, the brain-child behind the two day festival, held April 13 and 14.

Despite a little hiccup because of lightening storms the first day, well-known acts including Kenny Chesney and Eric Church rocked the packed beach.

Stacey said the moment he knew the festival was a success was when he heard the artists talking about the venue.

“I was sitting on the tour bus and Kenny Chesney and Michael Franti were saying how great the setting was,” he said.

Meant to marry education and entertainment, the Tortuga Festival took over a large stretch of the beach with three stages and a Conservation Village, where festival-goers could learn about environmental awareness.

Antonio Fins, the executive director of The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, said the conservation village “definitely served its purpose.”

Through interactive displays, cooking demonstrations and a beach clean-up, the “message got out there,” he said.

“We knew it would be a challenge to grab people away from the music,” Fins said. “But I think we succeeded.”

A portion of ticket sales went to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, which works to promote conservation and scientific study.

Fins said the money will definitely help them to spread their conservation message, but getting the word out there is just as valuable.

Organizers say plans for next year’s show are already in the works.

“We have already started the conversations of how we can make this even better,” Stacey said.

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