SW Florida Events, Activities and Information

There are always things going on in and around SW Florida.  Check back here often for the latest news!

Oct. 15, 2018

Fall and Halloween Event Schedule

Ring in Autumn with SW Florida Fall Festivities and Halloween Events

After a long warm summer and an unusual rainy season SW Florida is looking forward to some dryer, sunnier, and less humid weather. With Fall underway; what better way to get into the autumn spirit and enjoy the cooler SW Florida temperatures than to take in some of the local seasonal festivities? So, here’s a look at the area’s most notable events.
Let’s begin with two of the longest running galas; Hunsader Farms’ Pumpkin Festival in Manatee County and Fruitville Grove’s Pumpkin Fest in Sarasota County.

October 20-21 and 27-28 from 9am to 5pm: Hunsader Farms is entering into their 27th year hosting their Pumpkin Festival offering numerous activities and entertainment. There’s games, pony rides, petting zoo, face painting, hayrides, corn maze, a barnyard playground, rock climbing, a zip line, scarecrow displays, charity pumpkin games, craft shows, the pioneer village, a car show, and 14 live shows along with live music. And, of course, homemade ice cream, pumpkin pie, farm roasted sweet corn, and much more in food. Admission is $10, parking is $5, children 10 and under are free! Hunsader Farms is located at 5500 C.R. 675, Bradenton, FL 34211. Call 941-322-2168 for more information or visit https://www.hunsaderfarms.com/pumpkin-festival or check them out on Facebook.

October 20-21 and 27-28 from 10am to 5pm: Just a short distance south is another great and long running tradition. Fruitville Grove’s 30th Annual Pumpkin Fest which is well known for their variety of activities and entertainment, too. Here they offer hayrides, a wildflower maze, mini train rides, bungee jumping, pumpkin painting, pony rides, face painting, a petting zoo, laser tag, a giant rock wall, a butterfly garden, and craft vendors. They have a myriad of pumpkins in displays, corn stalks, hay bales, scarecrows, and garden decorations. And for food there will be food trucks along with local restaurant booths, kettle corn, caramel apples, milkshakes, hand dipped ice cream, and much, much more! Yum!!! Admission, parking, and most activities are free! Some individual rides and activities have their own separate cost, so make sure to bring some cash with you as some do not accept credit cards. Fruitville Grove is located at 7410 Fruitville Rd, Sarasota, FL 34240. Call them at 941-377-0896 for more information or visit their site at http://www.fruitvillegrove.com/festival/. You can also find great pumpkin recipes on their website, as well.  Two great festivals in two locations, you say?! Don’t worry, you still have plenty of time to catch both!

October 26th at 7pm, 8pm, and 9pm: Historic Spanish Point in Osprey, bordering Little Sarasota Bay, will host their Ghost Hunting Tours. The evening will mix history along with spooks, specters, and other ghostly activities on their 30 acre outdoor museum which includes the Guptill House, Mary’s Chapel, White Cottage Lawn and Sunken Garden, and the Duchene Lawn. Appropriate for children ages 8 and up; tours will not only entertain your family, but might even be a “chilling” and “frightening” good time. Bwahahahaha! Oh! I got caught up in the moment. Back on track! Spanish Point is located at 337 N. Tamiami Tr., Osprey, FL, 34229. Call 941-966-5214 for more information or visit their site at https://www.historicspanishpoint.org/ .

October 26th at 6:30pm till ??: WSRZ (Sarasota’s own Oldies 107.9) will be hosting their Friday Night Dance Party Monster Mash. Join deejays David Jones, Meredith Michaels, and Billy Jack for this hoppin’, boppin’, and jammin’ good time with an evening of music, dancing, games, and the Ultimate Costume Contest where contestants will be eligible for $1500 in cash prizes. The dance party will be held at the Venice Community Center 326 S. Nokomis Ave., Venice, FL 34285. $12 per person in advance, $15 day of event. For more information visit their site at https://wsrz.iheart.com/featured/friday-night-dance-party/ .

October 26th at 6:30pm to 9pm: Lakewood Ranch Main Street will host their 13th Annual Boo Fest. This event features numerous activities for the family. A "Spooktacular" maze, along with trick or treating, balloon artist, as well as live music and dancers. Come dressed in your scariest Halloween costume and be a part of the costume contest. Of course there will be food and drinks available and the local shops and cafes will be open for business, too. Admission is free and will be held throughout Lakewood Ranch Main Street in Lakewood Ranch, FL.

October 26th and 27th from 7:30pm to 10pm: 6th Annual Haunted Trails of Oscar Sherer State Park. A haunted trail and a haunted house are just two features during this weekend. There will be costume contests, trick or treating, spooky sounds, and food. Kids 13 and up are $10, 6-12 are $5, and age 4 and under are free. Oscar Sherer State Park is located at Rt. 41, Osprey, FL. For more information call 941-483-5956.

October 27th from 9am to 2pm: Bradenton Farmer’s Market will host their Howl’ween Pet Costume and Parade. The pooch parade will be held on Old Main Street where K9’s will be dressed in their best and scariest costumes. Owners are encouraged to dress in costume, as well. There will be prizes for best pet and best owner. There will also be crafts, produce from local farmers, as well as food and activities for the whole family. Call 941-621-6471 for more information.

October 27th 5pm to midnight: Stay later to catch the Main Street Live Downtown Street Party in Bradenton. This year’s season of live music on main will kick off with a Halloween bash! Costume contests, food, and drink vendors as well as arts and crafts will be on hand for this occasion. No charge to attend.

October 28th from 10am to 12pm: The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will host their annual Spooktacular. Fun for the whole family awaits with costume contest, trick or treating, and spooky (or maybe not too spooky) festivities. Kids can participate in pumpkin decorating. There will also be educational activities like seed planting and the mad scientist experiment center. The Marie Selby Gardens is located at 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, FL. Adults $20, Children 4-17 $10, members are free, and member’s guests are $10. For more information visit https://selby.org/ or call them at 941-366-5731.

October 31st from 3pm to 6pm: Visit Siesta Key Village for their Safe Treats Halloween. Participating stores and shops will be decorated with orange and black balloons and pumpkin flyers will be in their windows. Bring the little ones to trick or treat in a safe environment and enjoy a little shopping and great food at one of the fantastic eateries in the village. Admission is free.

October 31st from 6pm to approximately 8:30pm: The 10th Annual Fright Night on St. Armand’s Circle will host haunted store fronts, statues will be dressed in Halloween character, plus frightening ghouls and goblins will be around every corner. Kids can trick or treat around the circle and there will be a performance of “Thriller” by the Sarasota High School Drama Department around 8pm. Located on St. Armand’s Key, FL.

So, there you have it! The Suncoast has a lot of fun fall activities at some of the region’s most popular venues. I look forward to getting out to some of these events and enjoying the special atmosphere this time of the year generates. I hope to see you there as well! Until next time, Happy Fall!

Content by Kelvin Etchison, photos courtesy Hunsader Farms and Fruitville Grove

Posted in Events
Oct. 14, 2018

Burt Reynolds' '77 TransAm

Special Commemoration For The Gamble Plantation Car And Truck Show

This year's Fall Gamble Plantation Car and Truck show plans to be the biggest and best ever.  We are expecting over 300 spectacular cars and trucks to be on display to delight enthusiasts from all over SW Florida!

One of the most popular attractions at past shows was Gene Kennedy's display of the Burt Reynolds TransAm made famous in the "Smokey And The Bandit" movies.  With Burt's sad passing this year, we thought it would be quite appropriate to celebrate the '77 TransAm that Burt drove in that movie.  Rick Rodrigues - the vehicle's owner -  was kind enough to allow us to photograph the car recently at the 'Plantation.  From this photo session, we prepared a special commemorative photo that will be used on the award plaques at this year's event.  Here's a copy of what that will look like:

As an added bonus, you can see all of the photos from this photo session by clicking this link.

Don't forget, the Bill Mergens Memorial Car and Truck Show is less than a month away.  It will be held at the Gamble Plantation Historic State Park on Sunday, November 4.  For more details and to download the registration form, just click this link.  We hope to see you there!

Posted in Events
Oct. 10, 2018

Ruskin Family Drive In October Event

A Classic Event At A Classic Theater!

The turn out was great last Sunday as over 60 classic and collector cars and trucks came out for the second Cruise In event at the Ruskin Family Drive In in Ruskin, Florida.  The weather held out for most of the day with bright sunshine to match the friendly dispositions of all attendees.  Music was provided by Lance's Cruizin To The Hop, a number of folks were decked out in 50's attire, and a fun time was had by all.  It was great chatting with old acquaintances from past shows.  But we were delighted to meet a number of folks for the first time.

 Best of all, the event raised a literal truck load of canned goods for the St. Joseph's Knights of Columbus Food Bank.

We took a number of photos of these terrific vehicles from the field.  To check them out, just click on this link.   We also  have some shots of individual cars and trucks.  To view those,  just click here.

We hope you enjoy the photos and look forward to seeing you at future events.

Posted in Events
Sept. 28, 2018

Sarasota County Single Family Home Sales Fall

Unit Sales Drop and Increased Inventory Point Toward a Slowing Market

The Florida Association of Realtors recently reported*  that sales of single family homes in Sarasota county fell in August 2018 by 1.2% below the same period last year.  The single family home market in Manatee county experienced similar sluggishness with sales rising slightly over last August by a mere .2%.  

Perhaps more concerning however is the data on the supply side of the equation.  While the months of supply of inventory in Manatee county decreased by 4.9%, the opposite happened in Sarasota county with the months supply of single family homes available for sale actually increasing by 2.6%.  A decrease in sales coupled with an increase in supply suggests that the current market in Sarasota county for single family homes is soft.

There are a number of factors contributing to these results including:

  • A higher percentage of new construction in Manatee county
  • Increasing mortgage rates reducing home affordability.  In fact the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage recently surged to 4.72%, a 7 year high.

Buyers should be delighted as decreasing demand and increasing supply puts downward pressure on pricing.  But sellers should not despair as there is some good news in sight.  September marks the end of the slowest period for single family home sales in Southwest Florida.  Seasonal buying activity generally picks up in October.  So whether you are buying or selling, give us a call to see how we can best take advantage of the market for your real estate needs.

*Florida Association of Realtors, Monthly Market Summary - August 2018.  You may download this full report by clicking this link.

Sept. 25, 2018

Sarasota Classic Car Museum - Part 2

Cool Cars and Great Music at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum

This week I’m circling back around for a part two, if you will, to a previous post. A spotlight on a monthly event that’s held on the grounds of the Sarasota Classic Car Museum. That’s right! Lance’s Cruizin’ To The Hop presents another fantastic display of automobiles both vintage and modern at the iconic landmark. It’s a day full of fun for all that come, both cruisers and spectators.

Everywhere you turn classic iron and nuespeed are well represented. From street rods to 50’s customs, from 60’s and 70’s muscle cars to modern high performance vehicles. As I walk the lot I spot Mike Fullerton with his original high school ride; a 1968 Camaro SS with a 350 c.i. V8. Mike finished the restoration of his first car last year. Down the way is Vince Cino and his ’69 396 Chevelle. A few spaces later I run across Ken and Kay Moleski with their ’39 Chevy business coupe mildly modded with a 350 power plant. Then I look left and spot a body style I don’t recognize. A near one-off to be sure. If my suspicion is correct, only one person would acquire such a find. Yes! It’s Brad Ashman who brought a highly modified 1941 Studebaker Speedster. Originally reconstructed in 1953 by a 36 old in Central Illinois from various Studebaker, Pontiac, VW, and even Harley Davidson parts; the Speedster is a rolling tribute to the original hot rod days. When you literally fabricated parts from many makes and models to build (you’re) custom machine.

Aside from the fascinating vehicles the Sarasota Classic Car Museum holds a cookout with hamburgers and hot dogs with drinks available for everyone. The museum is open for tours and Vintage Motors of Sarasota which is located on the south side of the facility is also open to the public to peruse their showroom. And making sure the atmosphere is set; Lance’s Cruizin To The Hop provides music from all periods like the golden age of rock n’ roll and doo-wop to 70’s guitar rock and 80’s pop. Prizes and trophies are also up for grabs for show participants.

The mid-day cruise in is held on the third Saturday of every month from 10am to 2pm. The Sarasota Classic Car Museum is located at 5500 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL, 34243. For more information on the monthly cruise visit http://www.collectorcarstv.com or email Lance at lance@collectorcarstv.com or call 941-371-1061.

Content and photos by Kelvin Etchison

Posted in Events
Sept. 17, 2018

Ringling Museum

Experience Ringling Museum of Art on National Museum Day. For Free!

National Museum Day is coming up this Saturday, September 22nd. This annual celebration is championed by the Smithsonian magazine and encourages cultural institutes across the country to participate with free admission. Our very own Ringling Museum of Art, including the Circus Museum and the Tibbals Learning Center, will be opening it’s doors with free admission to encourage the public to come and explore!

There will be activities for the whole family to enjoy together. For example, explore the museum of art where exhibits from around the world are on display in 21 galleries representing the classical masters to present day artists. Sculptures and paintings can be viewed in the various galleries like the Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery where collections from 20th and 21st Century artists are on display. Another great exhibition is the Turrell Skyspace. Here you will view a wonderous experience of light, sky, and color. Visit the Center for Asian Art located on the bayfront gardens that hosts rotating collections of pieces from the Asian collections. Of course, there’s the majestic courtyards that include iconic sculptures that decorate the beautiful grounds. Fun activities and games are planned for the Museum of Art as well as a scavenger hunt for children in the Circus Museum where kids will learn about the circus heritage, try squeezing into a clown car, and walk “the wire”. And don't forget the spectacular "Howard Bros" model circus!

While you’re visiting the museum you may want to take advantage of touring the Ca’ D’ Zan, John and Mable Ringling’s Venetian Gothic style mansion filled with entertaining areas, guest rooms, and private quarters that all have unique and interesting stories behind every door. Tickets for various tiers of tours will be available for purchase. And with admission being free for the museum’s other amenities, this is an affordable option to add to your experience at The Ringling!

The Ringling Museum of Art is located at 5401 Bayshore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243 which is conveniently accessible where University Parkway ends at US 41 (Tamiami Trail) right on Sarasota Bay. For more information please visit their site at https://www.ringling.org/events/museum-day or give them a call at 941-359-5700. Hours of operation are 10am-5pm daily and open until 8pm on Thursdays.

The Ringling Museum of Art is full of wonderous treasures, history, and activities that the whole family will enjoy. Make a day of it this Saturday and come explore!

Content by Kelvin Etchison, Photos courtesy of Ringling Museum of Art


Posted in Interests
Sept. 14, 2018

Ruskin Family Drive In Cruise In

Be There Or Be Square!

Looking for a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon this October? Then mark your calendars for the Cruise In at the Ruskin Family Drive In. The event will take place on Sunday, October 7 between 1pm-5pm. There will be 50's music served up by the capable team from Lance's Cruizin' To The Hop. All attendees are invited to dress up in 50's and 60's attire and join in the celebration. There will be prizes galore and of course, we will be on hand to photograph all vehicles. Like the last event, each photo will be processed, professionally printed with a metallic finish and mailed to all registrants in a commemorative folder. To see what these photos from the last event look like, just click this link.

The entry fee is $20 with proceeds from the event benefiting the St. Joseph's Knights of Columbus Food Bank.  Gates open at 12:00 noon so plan on getting there early. The Ruskin Family Drive In is located at 5011 N US Hwy 41, Ruskin, FL 33572. You really don't want to miss this great event.

We hope to see you there!  And be sure to share this post with other car and truck enthusiasts.

Posted in Events
Sept. 12, 2018

Is There A Storm Brewing In the Housing Market?

US Existing-Home Sales Reach Their Slowest Pace In 2 Years

We recently reported that single family home sales in both Manatee and Sarasota counties remained moderate in July as compared to the same period one year ago (to review this post, simply click here). 

However, when viewed in a broader, national context, there are a number of disturbing indicators that suggest that there may be trouble ahead for the housing market.  Last month, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that with the exception of the West, US existing-home sales slowed for the fourth consecutive month in July.  This resulted in the slowest pace of existing-home sales in 2 years.

NAR's Chief Economic Lawrence Yun offered a number of factors contributing to this trend including:

  • Rising home prices
  • Increase in mortgage rates

To read the full report just click this link.

These factors are applying severe pressure on home affordability.  While negatively impacting all buyer segments, this situation is affecting the first time home buyers particularly hard.  Sellers are also being impacted as the decreased number of active buyers may be extending the overall time to contract.

The dynamics of the housing market are very much in flux right now.  Now more than ever buyers and sellers need a well thought out strategy to navigate these turbulent times.  We would be happy to discuss how both micro- and macroeconomic factors may impact your real estate plans.  Just give us a ring today at (941) 840-2265.



Sept. 10, 2018

Sarasota Culver's Cruise Night

Looking For Some Cruising Fun On a Saturday Night?

If you’re cruisin’ around Sarasota on an evening of a second Saturday swing by the Culver’s located on Cattlemen Rd. and Fruitville Rd. You’ll find a fine collection of vintage vehicles and modern American muscle along with classic tunes from the 50’s and 60’s. The evening we pulled in there were around 30 vehicles on display with spectators milling about enjoying these beautiful rides. Some took the opportunity to explain about the old school mechanics to their little ones while others could be overheard reminiscing with their better halves about an experience they encountered in “one just like that one”.

Presenter and deejay Cadillac Jimmy plays vintage rock n’ roll and offers up movie and music trivia throughout the evening. Car owners enjoy discounts to Culver’s. The show is open to everyone and is free. Culver’s address is 90 Cattlemen Rd, Sarasota, FL 34232. The cruise is held on the second Saturday of the month from 5pm-8pm except during July and August.  And don't forget to share this post with your fellow car and truck enthusiasts! 


Content and photos by Kelvin Etchison

Posted in Events
Sept. 7, 2018

DeSoto National Memorial

Manatee County’s Hidden Historical Gem

Tucked away in the northwest corner of Bradenton rests a tranquil preserve where peaceful overlooks view the surrounding waterways and trails intertwine under plush mangroves, majestic oaks, and soft pines. Where the modern world gives way to an old Florida setting and a history that runs deep in the roots of Manatee County and the state of Florida; Desoto National Memorial.

Here, the only mid-state National Park on the west coast in conjunction with Friends of DeSoto, continue educational and interpretative activities for local schools and is open to the public. Volunteers and staff recount the stories of the Spanish explorers under the command of Hernando DeSoto and the encounters with the Native American peoples during the four year exploration which began with their landing near here in the mouth of Tampa Bay 479 years ago.

The visitor’s center has video presentations, displays with historic facts, and a store where books and other memorabilia are available for both adults and children. Camp Ucita is a Spanish living camp reincarnated where reenactments and tours are held giving visitors a glimpse into a day in the life of the explorers while they were here in our area. Walking trails meander through the native landscape much as Hernando and his crew found it when they arrived here in 1539. On the trail that borders the mangroves along the Manatee River there are two monuments erected by the Archdiocese of Venice commemorating the priests that accompanied the expedition and the Native Americans that inhabited the area during that time. Along the way there is a clearing on the river where the reenactment of the landing of DeSoto is held each year kicking off the beginning of DeSoto Heritage Festival that spans the month of April. On the trail that rounds DeSoto Point visit the Tabby House Ruins. There are also picnic areas throughout the park where you can sit down and enjoy a peaceful lunch while you take in the scenery.

Located at the end of 75th Street West in northwest Bradenton, DeSoto National Memorial Park resides on the mouth of the Manatee River. The granite Desoto National Monument was placed here in 1939 by the Colonial Dames of America on the 400th Anniversary celebration of DeSoto’s landing in Florida. The land was then donated to the National Park Service in 1948.

Getting there is easy.  From I-75 take exit 220 (SR 64) west approximately 12 miles to 75th St. W and turn right. Head north to the park entrance. From I-275 take exit 5 and follow US 19 into Bradenton where you turn right and west on SR 64 (Manatee Ave. W) till you reach 75th St. W. For more information call (941) 792-0458 x105 or visit https://www.nps.gov/deso/index.htm

Come visit DeSoto National Memorial and discover why it’s referred to as Manatee County’s “hidden gem”!


Content and photos by Kelvin Etchison

Posted in Interests