Manatee County’s annual monthlong celebration of its history returns with a full roster of events, many outdoors as well as virtual amid the pandemic.
The 42nd annual Manatee Heritage Days takes place throughout March, as the county’s historical organizations and sites host special exhibits, lectures, walking tours and more. Originally a week in length, Heritage Days eventually grew to nine days, then into a monthlong event in 1995.
Here is this year’s schedule of events (subject to change.)
Jiggs Landing Heritage Foods: Jiggs Landing Outpost will offer special menu items and local favorites such as sour orange pie, swamp cabbage and smoked mullet dip throughout March. Tickets can be purchased for this limited time menu now. Jiggs Landing Outpost, 6106 63rd St. E., Bradenton; 941-727-4181; jiggslanding.com
“Medicine in Manatee” Exhibit Opening: Manatee Village Historical Park will reopen previously closed exhibit space inside the Wiggins store to feature an exhibit on the history of medicine in the Village of Manatee. The new exhibit will be open for visitors on the second floor, with appointments free but required, which can be scheduled on manateevillage.org. 9:30-11:30 a.m. most weekdays; Manatee Village Historical Park, 1404 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton; 941-749-7165
New Exhibits Open at Florida Maritime Museum: Phase II of the “Re-Imagination” of permanent exhibits is complete, unveiling a new look, more accessibility with all-new exhibits presented in English and Spanish and more. The “Caught in the Storm: 100 Years of Florida Hurricanes” exhibit, commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the 1921 storm that hit the Tampa Bay coast and showcasing a timeline of Florida hurricanes throughout the last century, is on display in the temporary exhibit room. This exhibit can also be experienced online and outdoors on the museum grounds. Indoor museum visits are by appointment only, 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez; 941-708-6120; floridamaritimemuseum.org
Old Manatee A to Z Coloring Contest: Presented by Realize Bradenton and Art Center Manatee, entries will be accepted through March 26. Winners will be announced March 31. Find contest details at realizebradenton.com.
Self-Guided Walking Tour of Palmetto: Courtesy of Manatee County Agricultural Museum and Palmetto Historical Park, enjoy historic downtown Palmetto with a printed guide for a free, self-guided tour, which can be reserved for contactless pickup by emailing [email protected] Pickup and the starting point of the tour will be at 515 10th Ave. W., Palmetto; 941-721-2034
Agricultural Museum’s Sensory Garden Exhibit Opening: Enjoy the new sensory garden, with a bench/table available to use for a picnic lunch or dinner. The garden is located on the grounds of the park and museum, and visiting is free. Palmetto Historical Park, 515 10th Ave. W., Palmetto; 941-721-2034
“Spoon River Anthology”: The Players Centre for Performing Arts will present Edgar Lee Masters’ work, which tells the stories of those laid to rest in a cemetery in the fictional small town Spoon River in central Illinois circa 1915. The show takes place outdoors, seats provided, and masks are required. 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; Jiggs Landing Outpost; $20, $12.50 students. 941-365-2494; theplayers.org/shows/spoon-river-anthology.
Cemetery Tours: For Heritage Days, Manatee Village Historical Park is offering guided cemetery tours of the 1850 Manatee Burying Ground with a member of staff. Tours will be approximately 20 minutes in duration, offering four slots per tour, and are free but reservations are required. At staff discretion, tours may be canceled due to inclement weather. 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. today-Friday and March 15-19; Manatee Village Historical Park; 941-749-7165; [email protected]
Artwalk at Village of the Arts: Artwalks occur on the First Friday weekend of every month in Bradenton’s colorful Village of the Arts neighborhood; 6-9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; Village of the Arts, 1227 12th St. W., Bradenton
Jiggs Landing Heritage Boat Tours: This boat tour takes you back into the past to Marineland, the first subdivision outside the city limits of Bradenton, formed in 1920. The tour lasts an hour and offers photos and views of historic sites and homes not available during regular tours. Admission includes a booklet with information about local history, with a box lunch available for additional cost. 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. Fridays-Sundays; Jiggs Landing; $20; 941-727-4181; jiggslanding.com
Downtown Bradenton Farmers’ Market: The weekly event offers locally grown fresh produce, plants, arts, crafts and live music. Parking is free on weekends. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays; Old Main Street, Bradenton; free; bradentonfarmersmarket.com
Jiggs Landing Open House: The historic Jiggs Landing Fish Camp cabin, a replica of cabins built by Jiggs Metcalf in the 1940s, will be open for visits. Docents from the Old Braden River Historical Society will talk about the history of Jiggs Landing, the Braden River and Evers Reservoir. The historic cabin will be open with a docent outside, social distancing and windows open, with attendees able to tour the cabin alone or in the same party. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays; Jiggs Landing; free; 941-727-4181; jiggslanding.com
“Medicine in Manatee” Digital Lecture: Join Manatee Village Historical Park curator Dr. Jeffrey N. Brown for a pre-recorded digital lecture supplementing the new “Medicine in Manatee” exhibit. The video will be available Saturday only. To receive an email reminder with the link, sign up before noon Friday. Saturday; free; 941-749-7165; manateevillage.org/events
Parrish Heritage Day Parade and Festival: The parade kicks off from Parrish United Methodist Church, traveling north on 121st Avenue East and turning left onto Erie Road, proceeding west to the visitor entrance of Parrish Community High School. Then attendees can enjoy the festival beginning at 11 a.m., with vendor booths, kids’ games, prizes, arts and crafts, food trucks and live music by Ariella. Masks are strongly encouraged but not required. 10:30 a.m. Saturday; 12180 US Hwy 301, Parrish; free
Rye Cemetery Preservation and Beautification: Volunteer to spruce up the Rye Pioneer Trail and historic burial grounds by removing litter and invasive plants, then clean the gravestones with a special solution to help them shine. 9-11 a.m. March 11; Rye Preserve, 905 Rye Wilderness Trail, Parrish; free; call 941-742-5923 x 6035 or email [email protected] to register
Families Flock Together: Cuban Ranchos: In the late 1600s, Florida’s shores hosted thriving communities of Cuban fishermen known as Ranchos. Become a Cuban fisherman for a day and explore the lifestyle, obstacles and estuary habitats of old Florida. 10 a.m.-noon March 13; Emerson Point Preserve, 5801 17th St. W., Palmetto; free, but reservations required; call 941-742-5923 x 6044 or email sara[email protected] to register
Native American Experience at Emerson Point Preserve: Discover what life was like for Native Americans who once lived here, and learn about many of the skills practiced by Florida’s early inhabitants and their way of life during a walk through the site of an early settlement. 2-4 p.m. March 13; Emerson Point Preserve; free; call 941-742-5923 x 6035 or email [email protected] to register
Manatee Settlement Walking Tour: Starting at Reflections of Manatee Visitors Center, this two-to-three-hour outdoor tour guides you through the hammock-covered streets of East Bradenton, as you visit pioneer home sites and learn the settlement history of 1840-1860. 2:30 p.m. March 21; Reflections of Manatee Visitors Center, 1305 Fourth Ave. E., Bradenton; free, but donations appreciated; 941-779-4480; reflectionsofmanatee.org
Rye Pioneer History Walking Tour: Get a taste of the wilderness just outside the city on this naturalist-guided walking tour of Rye Preserve. Learn about the history of the Town of Rye, a booming settlement turned ghost town along the banks of the Manatee River, visit the Rye family cemetery and tour the Rye Nature Center. Closed-toe shoes are required. 10-11 a.m. March 24; Rye Preserve (meet at the pavilion); email [email protected] for reservations
Storytelling and Service Book Club: “The Singing River”: This book club with a service twist features a different book about Florida every month, with discussion and a restoration project in the preserve. This month will be “The Singing River” by Joe G Warner. The program is suitable for bookworms 14 and up. 5-6:30 p.m. March 25; Emerson Point Preserve; free; call 941-742-5923 x 6035 or email [email protected] to register
“Taking Flight: A History of Aviation in Manatee County” Exhibit Opening: This historical exhibit charts the evolution of Manatee County aviation, from early landing fields in the 1910s to the establishment of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. David Breakfield and Katie Fleck will open the exhibit with a online video tour, followed by a live Zoom Q&A. The virtual exhibit will be online at mymanatee.org/library, with a series of panels related to the exhibit to be displayed on the second floor of Manatee Downtown Central Library through 2021. March 25; Manatee Downtown Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Blvd., Bradenton; email [email protected] to register for free virtual event.
Archaeo Paddle: Journey through the mangrove forests of Robinson Preserve with archaeologist Jeff Moates and discover the historical uses of the land, ecological restoration and how to spot the evidence or remains of indigenous people’s past. The program is suitable for ages 16 and older who can meet the county’s minimum eligibility requirements. Participants must have their own canoe or kayak and safety gear, wear a life jacket and bring a whistle. 9 a.m.-noon March 26; Robinson Preserve, 1704 99th St. NW, Bradenton (meet at kayak launch); free, reservations required; eventbrite.com
Saturday Morning at the NEST: This morning of exploration lets participants walk the grounds of the historic Reasoner Tract and observe botanical giants collected from around the world; explore the canopy boardwalk among the banyans, climb to the top of the crow’s nest, take in panoramic views and make an exit from the building via slide; and learn about upcoming programs and new additions to Robinson Preserve. In celebration of Manatee County Heritage Month, the fossil collection will be on display. 9 a.m.-noon March 27; The Mosaic NEST at Robinson, 840 99th St. NW, Bradenton; free
Families Flock Together: Fantastic Fossils: Through hands-on activities and games, discover the ancient animals that inhabited Manatee County millions of years ago, learn about how fossils are made and get an up-close look at the fossil collection. 2-4 p.m. March 27; Emerson Point Preserve (meet at pavilion by the classroom); free, reservations required; call 941-742-5923 x 6036 or email [email protected] to register
Email entertainment reporter Jimmy Geurts at [email protected] Support local journalism by subscribing.