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Annual Barge Party continues to grow

May 8, 2013
By SHERRI CONER ( , Pine Island Eagle

Anyone can organize a reunion or a birthday bash around the family pool or maybe in a restaurant or motel banquet room.

But Jim Frock of Sandbar Productions is not just anyone.

And Frock is also not the kind of guy who stays on land if he has another option.

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Bryan Lee & the Blues Power Band, 2010 Grammy nominee and 2010 BMA recipients, performed last month for Barge Party XIV, helping to raise $9000 for Pine Island Little League.

Because other area businessmen think as far away from the shore as Frock does, great minds worked in sync to create an amazing event called the Barge Party. Launched in 2010, the company was appropriately dubbed Sandbar Productions. As far as he knows, there are no other barge parties in the area, Frock said.

A few years ago, Frock was intrigued, "when a group of kayakers did a concert on top of a houseboat in Matlacha."

Soon after, Frock and a group of friends organized a benefit for a buddy in need. Frock mulled that initial inspiration around in his head, ignites friends' imaginations too, and suddenly the fund-raiser plans for their dear friend took to the water, literally.

"We planned a surprise party for Danny Dobbins," Frock said. "That was our very first try at this. We had a three-piece band out on a pontoon."

Even after floating some musical notes around on the water, Frock's vision had not yet materialized. And, by the way, the idea was a lot bigger than that initial pontoon boat.

"I had a spot in mind for it, too," He said. "It was a great sandy spot and deep water."

When the big expectations of Sandbar Productions were finally tangible, there's been nothing but positive results.

Last week, water lovers flocked to Two Pine Key, the perfect mix of sandbar and salt water, Frock envisioned all along. Surrounded by more than 200 boats and lots of happy people too, Barge Party VII was celebrated last weekend at Two Pine Key.

Offering two sunny afternoons filled with great music and food in this particular area of Matlacha Pass, the Barge Party has quickly become a unique source of entertainment for water lovers and a highly successful fund-raiser for the community.

"During our first four events, we raised $30,000," Frock said. "And now we're up to $50,000. "

Because of the generosity of Frock and other members of Sandbar Productions and area businesses, family members will no longer bake in the bleachers during Pine Island Little League Baseball season, said Wendy Mills, president of the Little League organization.

"We have 70 kids in Little League," She said. "The Barge Party raised $9,000 for Little League. They helped us provide four shade structures over the bleachers at the baseball field. They also helped us get netting for the batting cage."

Along with other parent volunteers from Little League, Mills paddled a kayak around last weekend, collecting admission fees from more than 300 boats filled with energetic music lovers.

This venture has come a long way since that first 2010 pontoon boat party, Frock said. That experience, which included a couple of singers and lots of loving friends, was a successful for a friend who was definitely down on his luck. But what might have initially seemed like a crazy idea to raise money fast for a friend has grown every year and gathered more fans along the way, Frock said of Sandbar Productions.

Executing a perfect barge party is serious work, requiring meticulous planning, lots of elbow grease and at least a few wishes for sunshine.

"It takes so much to do this," Frock said. "We've got generators and sound equipment, tents and Barbecues. That's why we're thinking about making the October Barge Party two days like the one in April. And we've already started planning it."



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