Festivals, Powerboats and Fireworks

Enjoy your 4th of July holiday with plenty of events in the Sarasota area

Superboats make their way out to the Gulf of Mexico
Powerboat Grand Prix - Reduced to one day of racing this year as powerboats motor past Lido Key on Sunday

Although the annual Powerboat Grand Prix hailed its two preliminary events the past few days, the kickoff party on Wednesday will start the trend of thousands to visit Sarasota for the full festival and the traditional fireworks in the area. The crowds will descend downtown and Lido Beach will come alive for the 35th annual festival. With the races reduced to just powerboats, there will only be one full day of racing off Lido Beach to be held on Sunday.

As part of the Powerboat festival, eight days of events were initiated with the 4th Annual Bob Rizi Memorial Golf Classic on Saturday at The Meadows Country Club in Sarasota. Also completed was the Boat & Personal Watercraft fun run yesterday. It started at Marina Jack with a shotgun start and a variety of boats with travels to the Salty Dog, Bridge Tender and Tarpon Bay Grill. Proceeds benefited the Suncoast Charities for Children. A private event The Friendliest Catch fishing tournament is another Suncoast Charities for Children at the Sarasota Outboard Club on City Island Tuesday.

Many powerboat fans will be visiting the Grand Prix Kickoff Party in the grand foyer of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Wednesday starting at 6 PM. The Caribbean Chillers, an international travelling Jimmy Buffett tribute band is the live entertainment for the night. Wear your patriotic apparel for this evening of fun and island style food.

One of many firework displays this week, the Bayfront Spectacular is part of the Grand Prix Festival. Prime viewing is from Bayfront Park, but anywhere downtown will be good with an open view of the bay. Should be great if you can find a location on a rooftop. The fireworks start at 9 PM on Thursday.

Miss Geico
Miss Geico returns with a completely new look and mechanicals. The Miss Geico boat finished first in the Unlimited class in last year's festival. Meet driver James Sheppard and throttleman Steve Curtis at the Hyatt Regency for a Meet and Greet on Friday.

Meet and Greet Who’s in the Driver Seat is an autograph signing event by the race team pilots. Those 18 and under are free, a five-dollar donation will be accepted for all other guests. It starts at 1 PM on Friday in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom downtown. The Boats on the Block follows at 6 PM and will be held on Main Street from Orange Avenue to South Palm Avenue. The powerboats will be on display for pictures, live music and great food will keep you busy for hours.

Two events on day seven start at 9 AM, the Car & Motorcycle Show at Rossiter’s Harley-Davidson, four hours of some of the best-in-show four-wheel and two-wheel vehicles. Remote Control Race Boats is a charity event on Saturday where competitors of all ages pilot their own boat modeled after those in the big race festival. It takes place at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill on the Bayfront from 10 AM to noon on Saturday.

Miss Geico returns, a crowd favorite powerboat, kicking off a single-day of racing in the Class 1-7 course off Lido Beach at 10 AM on Sunday. Also entered in the Class One performance boats are Victory, 222 Racing, Lucas Oil and Scuderia Cazzani. Class One boats are the largest of the races and travel at speeds up to 160 MPH. Superstocks, Super Vee Extreme and Prostock Vee begin their races at 11:30 AM. The Supercat style boats race at 12:30 PM, while the Class One and Vee Extreme finish the day of racing at 2 PM followed by an awards ceremony at 6 PM in the Hyatt Regency ballroom. Viewing is free on the beach, a special VIP area at the Sandcastle Resort has been sold out.

In 2018 the impact of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival generated an estimated $20 million to the local economy with over $2.657 million in hotel spending. Of the $721,753 sales tax collected, $69, 670 was reimbursed to the county. Sarasota County collected its own sales tax of $120,292.

Other Area Fireworks and Festivals, Wednesday and Thursday schedule

Fireworks on Thursday
Fireworks off Bayfront Park in Sarasota, part of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix this year.

Get an early jump on fireworks Wednesday at dusk with two local displays in Manatee and Sarasota counties. The Bradenton Marauders take on the Jupiter Hammerheads on Wednesday at LECOM park in Bradenton, followed by an Independence Day fireworks celebration. Before dusk at 7 PM, the Fireworks 4 Miler is a prelude to the fireworks that follow at Nathan Benderson Park.

But a majority of the fireworks are scheduled for Thursday, following a day of celebrations at parks around the area. A party in Bicentennial Park starts the day on Longboat Key as the Freedom Fest and the half mile Hot Diggity Dog Parade begins at the Suntrust Bank building on Bay Isles Road. Dress your pup in the best red, white and blue for a chance to win prizes in this annual event.

While the Freedom Fest starts at 9 AM, so does the Myakka River Kayak Festival as the two early morning festivals. Rent a canoe or kayak, then eat plenty and sample some of 30 different craft beers while listening to live Folk Americana music at Snook Haven in Venice.

Palmetto will hold its 9th annual Fourth of July Festival in Sutton Park followed by fireworks in Sutton Park, a full day of entertainment, music, food and drink. Rare Earth and Mark Farner’s American Band, two oldies rock favorites precede the fireworks over the Manatee River at the Green Bridge with good viewing from both sides of the river.

Privateers on Anna Maria Island
Break out your swashbuckling attire for the annual Privateers Fourth of July Parade.

If you are on Anna Maria Island Thursday you will undoubtedly find the Privateers Fourth of July Parade. The parade is a lengthy one which starts at Coquina Beach, 10 AM, and finishes on the north end of the island at the city pier. Stick around for the fireworks at the Sandbar Restaurant. The All-American Cookout at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens features food preparations from Michael’s on East, a family dance party, games and other activities before the Bayfront Fireworks Spectacular.

There are fireworks in the area that are not centrally tied to a community festival. The viewing area for the Siesta Key Community Fireworks on the beach opens at 6 PM, and areas around the south jetty in Venice are prime locations for the fireworks there shortly after sunset. The weather forecasts are typical for this time of year as the normal summer pattern spreads across the area, with little rain chances except for an afternoon shower. It shouldn’t dampen any of your plans. But for more local events, check out our updated schedule of events.

Last week I listed a private waterfront residence that is tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac in the secluded Hideaway Bay community at 705 Hideaway Bay Lane. A tropical oasis, this 3BR home offers walls of lush foliage surrounding the property, complemented by pavered walkways, charming gardens, a hammock, plus newer dock and lift on sailboat-deep waters that enhance its seclusion. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy. Enjoy your Independence Day Holiday festivities.

 

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