Revelers pack downtown Bradenton as the band performs during a past Main Street Live New Year’s Eve celebration.

Revelers pack downtown Bradenton as the band performs throughout a previous Main Avenue Dwell New Year’s Eve celebration.

Bradenton Herald

Another March weekend is here with St. Patrick’s Day fun on tap and a last taste of cool winter weather in the air.

There are plenty of local events in store as we reach the height of tourist and snowbird season.

Highlights this weekend include fine arts festivals on the Bradenton Riverwalk and in downtown Sarasota, a food truck and music event at The Mall at UTC and the opening of the Sarasota County Fair.

Still need plans? We’ve got you covered.

Here’s a hand-picked guide to fun times around Bradenton and Sarasota this weekend, March 17-19.

Main Street Live St. Patrick’s edition

A special St. Paddy’s day edition of Main Street Live will sweep downtown Bradenton with live music, family fun and green beer this Friday.

The street party includes local food and drink trucks and vendors, artisans and St. Patrick’s themed arts and crafts for kids.

The Loaded Barrel Tavern will keep the green beer flowing for guests of drinking age.

Jacksonville’s Honey Hounds will bring their special brand of blues infused with funk, rock and pop influence to the Old Main Street stage.

Bradenton Riverwalk Fine Arts Festival

“Come enjoy browsing and purchasing fine arts and crafts from a fascinating and diverse palette of original, handmade arts, crafts and specialty products by artisans from across America at the Bradenton Riverwalk Fine Art Festival,” an event preview says.

The event by Paragon Festivals will bring crafters to working in painting, sculpting, jewelry, photography, candles, scented oils, ceramics, fiber and wearable art, mixed-media, woodworking and more to the Riverwalk this Saturday and Sunday.

Sarasota Fine Art and Craft Fair

“Covering more than five city blocks in Downtown Sarasota, artists and crafters will line Main Street from Orange Avenue to Links Avenue,” an event preview says.

Sculpture, painting, jewelry, ceramics and photography are among the featured artworks, and additional vendors will offer home goods and eco-friendly products.

Five Centuries of Florida History at De Soto National Memorial

De Soto National Memorial will host “Five Centuries of Florida History” this Saturday.

“Walk through time as you explore Florida’s great history,” an event preview says. “Poke around a Civil War encampment, or have coffee with GI’s from the sunshine state. Meet Spanish conquistadors, 19th Century artisans, and Gulf Coast Pirates.”

The event is free and includes games and presentations. Costumes are encouraged. Food vendors will be on site.

Parking for the event and for general access to the park on Saturday will be at Martha B. King Middle School, 600 75 th St. W., Bradenton.

  • Details: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. De Soto National Memorial, 300 Desoto Memorial Highway, Bradenton. Free admission.
  • Info:

Veg Head Music and Wine Festival

The first ever Veg Head Food and Wine Festival will bring more than 15 plant-based food trucks and vendors to the Mall at University Town Center this Saturday.

The event will also feature an indie market of over 60 local artisans, wine samples from Florida wineries and live music.

  • Details: Noon-6 p.m. Saturday. Parking Lot 4, East Grand Entrance at The Mall at University Town Center, 140 University Town Center Dr., Sarasota. Admission: $5 online preorder; $10 at the gate. Ages 17 and under: free.
  • Info:

Sarasota County Fair

The Sarasota County Fair has all the bases covered for family fun. Find midway rides, live music and shows, food, exhibits featuring live animals and more.

Arts, crafts, horticulture and culinary skills will also be on display.

The event is celebrating its 87th season in 2023.

  • Details: March 17-26. Sarasota Fairgrounds, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. General admission: Adults: $12. Kids 6-12: $7. Kids 5 and under: free. Seniors 55 and up: $6. Online discounts available. Ride armbands: $20-$30.
  • Info:

Bradenton Home Show

This one-stop shop for home improvement projects will bring builders, contractors, kitchens, baths, garden displays, landscapers, pools, spas, security systems, garage doors, driveways, windows, solar system specialists and more under one roof.

The event will also include cooking seminars, giveaways and exhibits.

  • Details: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. Free admission.
  • Info:

Performing arts and shows

The Island Players present “The 39 Steps”: “Get ready for non-stop laughs in this zany adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller,” a show preview says. “Four actors play more than 150 characters as our hero and heroine race across England and Scotland to stop and international gang of dangerous spies.”

  • Details: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Jan. 12-29. $25 at box office; $27 online.
  • Info:

Sinatra! The Musical” at Manatee Performing Arts Center: “This show takes you through a musical journey of Frank Sinatra’s life, from his big band career to his return at Madison Square Garden for the main event,” a preview says.

“Reel Music” at Florida Studio Theatre: “Featuring songs from black & white films and movie musicals to ‘Casablanca’ andThe Greatest Showman,’ ‘Reel Music’ highlights the movies that helped create the soundtrack to the last century.”

  • Details: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Through June 25. Playing at Florida Studio Theatre’s John C. Court Cabaret, 1265 First St., Sarasota. $34.
  • Info:

West Coast Black Theatre Troupe presents “Dreamgirls”: An inspirational journey through American pop music, ‘Dreamgirls’ chronicles one fictional Motown group’s rise from obscurity to superstardom. The musical explores themes of ambition, hope and betrayal, all set in the glamorous and competitive world of the music industry.”

  • Details: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Feb. 22-April 9. Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, 1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota. Adults: $50. Students and active military: $20-$48.
  • Info: 941-366-1505.

Dale Jones at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre: Dale Jones’ comedic credits include The Second City comedy club, TBS’s “The Very Funny Show,” NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” Fox’s “30 Seconds to Fame” and The Comedy Network in Canada.

  • Details: 7 p.m. Thursday, 6:30 and 8:50 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday. McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. $25.
  • Info:

Farmers’ markets

Downtown Bradenton Public Market: This weekly market is a community gathering place that welcomes vendors offering fresh local produce, meat, pantry and home goods, packaged foods, plants, clothing, accessories and more.

Food, drink and dessert vendors make the market a great place to grab a tasty snack.

This year, the market is nearly doubling in size with plans to host about 100 vendors each week, including a core group of businesses and some rotating selections, organizers say.

The market also features live music performances from different regional artists each week. Kid’s activities, special events and cooking demonstrations add to the fun throughout the season.

The Farmers’ Market at Lakewood Ranch welcomes more than 90 regional vendors to Waterside Place each Sunday. Offerings include produce, meat and seafood, prepared foods and breads, crafts, jewelry, plants and pet treats. Live music from a rotation of local musicians and yoga sessions are another regular feature at the market.

Oneco Farmers Market is open seven days a week. The permanent market boasts more than 100 vendors in one location, including meats and seafood, fresh produce, sweets and treats. There are also restaurants and arts and crafts vendors to check out, and the market frequently hosts free community events.

  • Details: Open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. Oneco Farmers Market, 5108 15th St. E., Bradenton.
  • Info:

Sarasota Farmers Market brings vendors selling arts and crafts, goods and services, produce, food, plants and more to downtown Sarasota. There’s also live music to enjoy.

Newtown Sarasota Farmers Market offers local produce, fresh-baked goods and other items twice a week in the Newtown neighborhood. The market also hosts community gatherings including events for kids and food festivals.

  • Details: 10 a.m.-5p.m. Friday and Saturday. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, 2523 Cocoanut Ave., Sarasota.
  • Info:

Meadows Farmers Market: Started in Oct. 2021, the Meadows Farmers Market promises organic fruits and vegetables straight from local farmers. Other attractions include artisans, food vendors and live music. Events at the market include yoga, tai chi, wellness talks and holiday celebrations.

Red Barn Flea Market combines the best of a farmers market, a flea market and a food court in one stop. At Red Barn, you’ll find permanent storefronts, vendor booths, fresh produce, local food offerings, live entertainment and more.

See a movie

Whether you’re interested in Hollywood blockbusters, independent film or an old-time drive-in movie experience, there’s a theater nearby that can satisfy. Here are your local movie options:

Ruskin Family Drive-In: In operation since 1952, this drive-in plays new movies, classic flicks and family favorites with showings Wed.-Sun.

There are two options for audio: bring a portable radio or leave your car radio turned on during the film. You can also bring folding chairs to set up outside of the vehicle (bug repellent recommended).

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (PG-13): 8 p.m.

Godzilla vs. Kong (PG-13): 10:15 p.m.

  • Details: 5011 U.S. 41 N., Ruskin. Ages 9 and up: $7. Ages 5-8: $2. Cash only. $5 fee for bringing your own food. Alcohol not permitted.
  • Info:

Sarasota Film Society: Sarasota Film Society’s Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota theaters are a great place to catch a weekend flick. Screenings include independent and art films as well as blockbusters. Check the society’s website for the current lineup of movies.

Some of the society’s movie offerings can be streamed virtually from home.

  • Details: Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, 10715 Rodeo Drive 8, Sarasota and Burns Court Cinemas, 506 Burns Lane, Sarasota. Online streaming available any time.
  • Info: or 941-955-3456

Other Bradenton area movie theaters:

  • AMC Bradenton 20, 2507 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton. 941-752-3796

  • AMC Sarasota 12, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 941-922-4900

  • CMX CinéBistro Siesta Key, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail #1100, Sarasota. 941-361-2456

  • Regal Oakmont, 4801 Cortez Rd. W., Bradenton. 844-462-7342

  • Regal Hollywood, 1993 Main St., Sarasota. 844-462-7342

Fun at the museum

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature: Explore the past, present and future of the natural world with interactive displays and exhibits, stellar shows in the famed Planetarium, an indoor manatee habitat, the Mosaic Backyard Universe for kids and more at The Bishop in downtown Bradenton.

  • Details: Open Tue.-Sat. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. Ages 18-64: $25. Ages 65 and up: $23. College students with ID: $19. Ages 5-17: $16. Ages 4 and under: Free with paying adult.
  • Info: or 941-746-4131

Florida Maritime Museum: Florida Maritime Museum documents the age-old relationship between Floridians and the water. Visitors will find marine life displays, historical photos and documents, revolving exhibits and a gift shop.

On the second and fourth Saturday of each month, the museum hosts a “Music on the Porch” outdoor jam session. From 2-4 p.m., local pickers and players come together to share tunes and singalongs with the crowd.

Masks are currently required inside museum buildings.

  • Details: Open 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez. Free.
  • Info: or 941-708-6120

Manatee County Agricultural Museum: Explore Manatee County’s rich agricultural past and present at the Manatee County County Agricultural Museum. Permanent exhibits include displays of authentic farm tools and equipment and highlights of various crops and industries that have taken root in Manatee County over the decades. There’s also a revolving lineup of special exhibits to check out.

  • Details: Open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and on the first and third Saturday of each month. Manatee County Agricultural Museum, 1015 Sixth St. W., Palmetto. Free. Donations accepted.

  • Info: or 941-721-2034

Sarasota Art Museum: Operated by Ringling College of Art and Design, the Sarasota Art Museum displays revolving exhibits of contemporary artwork.

The museum is housed in the former Sarasota High School building and offers 15,000 square feet of gallery space to showcase paint, sculpture, photography, furniture making, experimental art and more.

Events at the museum include curator and artist talks, live jazz every second Thursday of the month and free entry and family fun on the second Sunday of each month.

Visitors can also enjoy a gift shop and a bistro.

  • Details: Museum open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Sarasota Art Museum, 1001 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Ages 17 and up: $15. Ages 0-16: Free with paying adult. Veterans and active military: Free with ID.
  • Info:

The Ringling in Sarasota offers a treasure trove of fine art and architecture. See collections of European works from the Baroque period and modern and contemporary art; witness the colorful history of the big top in the Circus Museum; take a tour of the Ca’ d’Zan, a Mediterranean revival mansion; and stroll The Ringling’s 68 acres of waterfront grounds and gardens.

  • Details: Open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. Ages 6-17: $5. Ages 18 and up: $25. Ages 65 and up: $23. Ca’ d’Zan entry $10 extra. Admission to the Museum of Art and grounds is always free on Mondays.
  • Info: or 941-359-5700

Ryan Ballogg is a news reporter and attributes author at the Bradenton Herald. Since becoming a member of the paper in 2018, he has received awards for characteristics, art and environmental crafting in the Florida Push Club’s Excellence in Journalism Competitiveness. Ryan is a Florida native and graduated from University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
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