I used to like this event a lot, at least the first year it occurred. It was mostly locals, the restaurants were a mix of established names and ones trying to get their names out there (I remember Kris Wessel from Liasion in particular in that even though his restaurant had closed he still showed up to serve food at his station. Freaking stand-up guy!). There were demonstrations both free (Illy coffee was a favorite) and with admission.
A year later prices went up considerably and more side events were added. A few years later Food Network became involved and this event has now turned into a 72 hour FN convention where you can't take two steps without walking into Tyler or Rachel (either in person or on a pole sign). The beach is going to be mobbed with throngs of out of towners and places like Michael's and Michy's are already booked solid (BTW, Michael and Michelle are among the local chefs participating in SBWFF events. Go MIA!). On the one hand the festival is good for the economy and it brings lots of press and attention to Miami and its restaurants. On the other hand, besides the restaurants participating in the tasting tent, what makes this event especially about South Beach and/or Miami? Most of these events could be held in L.A., NYC, heck even Detroit. Nothing about "A Vertical of Pomerol" or "Unlocking the Secrets of Boutique Cheeses" screams South Beach, or Miami even because chances are we can't fine the Pomerol's you'd be tasting here and if you want boutique cheese in Miami there are only 3 places to buy it.
So out of spite for moving from it's original premise, and in an effort to avoid throngs of tourists drunk on the beach, we're avoiding the beach entirely this weekend and focusing on local places with chefs that aren't going to be cooking with Joel Robuchon. Yakko-san comes to mind as does Heelsha. As for others avoiding the bacchanal, what are your suggestions?