Jennifer Stradtman has a dream, to create the Sandy Boots Songwriters Festival of St. George Island in the spring.
To help awaken it, she hosted a launch party at her West Gorrie Drive home Saturday, featuring two of the best songwriters in Nashville, to help generate interest and whet the appetite for the spring festival.
During an evening that featured fresh shucked oysters and a roast suckling pig prepared by chef Brett Gormley, Rolling Stone Songwriter of the Year Rob Hatch and Platinum recording artist Jerrod Niemann, both friends of Stradtman back in Nashville, delighted the audience of invited guests with their performance.
Stradtman, a Florida State University graduate who grew up in Tallahassee, had enjoyed coming to the island in her youth. In 2003, she and her husband moved to Nashville, and since then have acquired several properties in Franklin County, including on the island and in Carrabelle, where in May she bought the former Carrabelle Church of God and its 2.5-acre site.
Stradtman has known Hatch, a native of Cross City, and Niemann, a native Kansan, for a decade. The two artists are partners in Entersong, a collective group of 60 hit songwriters who have come together to create everything from songwriter festivals, to corporate events to private parties.
One of their veteran booking agents, Donna Lee, was on hand, as well as Rhonda Mills, who each year presents an enormous concert in Nashville to help raise funds for the Nikki Mitchell Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to providing comfort and relief to those affected by pancreatic cancer, while raising awareness and searching for the cure.
Stradtman, who has not yet set a date or a location for the festival, said her vision of the festival is “to drive business to a week in spring, which is kind of a lull between March and May both for home rentals and businesses.
“We’re trying to balance it out, with a little more tourism, but not do it in a way to overwhelm the island, but so it blends well with the vibe of St. George island, what we think people will enjoy,” she said. “We’re also looking for sponsorships, or contributions of everything from labor services to house rentals to financial support.”
Stradtman recently bought the former Black Marlin Bar and Grill property at 200 Gunn Street, adjacent to Paddy’s Raw Bar, and she’s considering whether that spot could be used for the festival.
In addition, she’s inquired about the possibility of using Lighthouse Park, Battery Park in Apalachicola and even St. James Bay Golf Resort.
Stradtman said she’s met with Carrabelle Mayor Brenda La Paz, Franklin County Commission Chairman Ricky Jones and Tourist Development Council Director John Solomon to discuss her proposal.
To reach out to Jennifer Stradtman, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org