32963 Homepage

Want to purchase reprints of your favorite 32963 or photos?

Copies of Vero Beach 32963 can be obtained at the following locations:


Our office HQ: (located at 4855 North A1A)
1. Corey's Pharmacy
2. 7-Eleven

(South A1A)
3. Major Real Estate Offices


1. Vero Beach Book

2. Classic Car Wash
3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival clarifies structure


When a new event comes to Vero and it’s wildly successful, attracting major sponsors, more than 100 volunteers, but with a board made up largely of out-of-towners, there are bound to be skeptics – especially when the festival’s corporate structure seems fuzzy.

Several readers reached out to Vero Beach 32963 with questions after finding a statement in the volunteer handbook of the Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival stating that the event, featuring more than 70 independent films shown at 11 venues over a four-day period, is a nonprofit charitable organization.

“We are not a nonprofit. The festival is a traditional corporation,” Finance Director Kelly Kite said last week. “The board is very careful to make this clear to any potential sponsors, but the volunteer handbook was written by a volunteer and it’s been corrected. We appreciate you bringing it to our attention.”

Kite said all printed and online materials have been reviewed to make sure there’s nothing that might mislead potential sponsors, volunteers or festival attendees. He said the festival also plans on sending out an “email blast” to everyone on its list to clarify the matter.

“Most film festivals are not set up as nonprofits,” said Kite, a Vero Realtor who had been to the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado and tried to start a hometown version and recruit a local Vero board to launch it five or six years ago.

After discovering how much work would be involved, Kite – who said he had his plate full as a Realtor together with his busy tax lien research and investment business – dropped the idea.

“Then Jerusha (Stewart) went to the Cultural Council and asked if there were any plans to start a film festival, and they gave her my number,” Kite said.

Stewart was already on the board at Suncoast Mental Health, and both she and Kite wanted the festival to have some charitable element, so they chose Suncoast as the first organization that would benefit from festival. 

 “Down the road, we may choose a different organization to benefit, like some other festivals do,” Kite said.

Kite said the Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival and Suncoast jointly decided not to release the dollar amount that went to the charity from the first-year event in 2016.

“But we will be releasing the number this year,” he said. If an individual needs a tax donation receipt for a festival sponsorship, Kite said they can write their check directly to Suncoast and that will become part of the festival proceeds that go to the charity. “But the vast majority of our sponsors and supporters are businesses who do it for the marketing exposure,” Kite said.

Knowing the festival would need serious six-figure financial backing to rent venues, bring in films, pay for travel and lodging for producers and directors and hire the necessary technical expertise, Kite worked on building a Finance Committee.

Meanwhile Stewart, who had experience with the nuts and bolts of organizing and promoting fun social and charitable events, worked on establishing the structure of the festival.  She networked and tracked down people from other cities that have film festivals – mostly people from South Florida and Orlando – to serve on the board and work their contacts with the film industry.

“You won’t find the usual Vero crowd on our board.  A lot of our board consists of people not from Vero Beach because we needed people who had done this before, or people with contacts in the film industry,” Kite said.

“It’s unlike other events because the key is getting the films.  We are near the end of the film festival circuit, so we go to the other festivals and try to talk the filmmakers into bringing their films to Vero, even though we’re a relatively small venue. The goal for the filmmaker is to get their film seen and signed, and sometimes that happens and the rights to the film are signed away and then you can’t get that film anymore.”

The festival found its angel benefactors in Dr. Darrell Horn of the Florida Veterinary League and his wife Susan, who put up the needed seed money and co-founded the festival with Stewart. Susan Horn volunteers as Director of Submissions, working with a committee to view and critique all the potential films and decide which ones meet the quality and appropriateness standards to show to the Vero audience.

With the second-year festival set to launch on June 8 and more than 4,000 people expected to attend the Thursday through Sunday events (story, page 33), Stewart serves as executive director and is the only full-time paid staff person. The festival also employs part-time administrative help and has a total personnel budget of $70,000 for the two staffers, Kite said.

Festival staff and volunteers operate out of donated space in the offices of the Florida Veterinary League on U.S. 1. Board and committee meetings take place in homes, in offices or occasionally in meeting space at a club or other facility.