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Sensational festivals, on sensational beaches

by Roger Pettingell

Our beaches, sunbathing and more

Events such as the Powerboat Grand Prix attract thousands to the area

Lido Beach fans
Powerboat Grand Prix - Thousands lined the beach of Lido Key with canopies to watch the races Sunday

There are many reasons why tourists visit Sarasota and it is rated as one of the best places in the country to retire. It is simple to argue that our beaches is the biggest draw. Just sticking your toes in the quartz-rich sand that reflects 99 percent of the sun is a delight in itself. But our beaches also attract thousands for some of the best events in the world.

Case in point is the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix this past weekend where eight days of land activities culminated in the races on the final day off Lido Beach. There thousands lined the sands off Lido Key for nearly a half mile of canopy tent next to canopy tent and nesting black skimmers to watch the spectacle over the water where powerboats screamed their engines traveling at speeds up to 160 mph. The spectators seemed unaware of the rain drops and cloudy skies to catch a full day of racing.

The events of the 35th annual Grand Prix attracted visitors to the hotels, restaurants and bars, last year bringing in $20 million to the area and tax benefits to local governments. This year crowd favorite Miss GEICO and the boat Victory flipped during the Class One last race on Sunday. The races will air on CBS Sports at 3 PM on August 4 and on Fox Sports at a later date to be announced. The races were sanctioned by the Offshore Powerboat Association and P1 Offshore.

The Tachi Palace World’s Strongest Man in Bradenton, Florida
The world took notice of Bradenton Beach during the Strongman competition on the beaches June 14-16.

The Grand Prix followed another world class event just weeks before on the beaches of Anna Maria Island. On the public Bradenton Beach, USA contender Martins Licis defeated Mateusz Kieliszkowski of Poland, reigning champ and Game of Thrones star Hafthor Julius Bjornsson representing Iceland, and Tom Stoltman of the United Kingdom in the World’s Strongest Man competition.

This multi-day competition enticed fans to downtown Bradenton, Coquina Beach and the finals on Bradenton Beach. For four days they threw kegs over banners, lifted immense weights and pulled vehicles downtown to a great demonstration of strength and endurance. A series of the competition will begin to air on the CBS Sports Network starting July 11 with the finals encore presentation on CBS, September 1.

Back to Coquina Beach on the south end of Anna Maria Island (AMI) where each Sunday there is a seasonal gathering of farm-grown produce and craft sales. The beach market is open 10 AM to 4 PM each Sunday November through July, excluding some holidays, and every Wednesday, December 18 through May 21. Pick up some good artwork by local artists and catch the AMI String Band performing in the market area. There is plenty of free parking and a free shuttle that connects all areas of AMI. The Coquina Café on the beach serves short-order food, soft drinks and beer.

But everyone knows the Number One rated beach in the world on Siesta Key and the annual Crystal Classic is circled on many calendars in the month of November. This year’s International Sand Sculpting Festival runs November 15-18. Not only do you see some of the world’s greatest sand sculptors, you can dance to local band favorites.

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic master sand sculpting competition
The Siesta Key Crystal Classic master sand sculpting competition is held in November each year.

Master sand sculptors, led by local resident Brian Wigelsworth along with local Siesta Key organizations, founded the first Crystal Classic in November of 2010. It has grown to attract 35,000 attendees, half of which are from outside the area. In order to be considered for the master sculpting contest each artist must win a sanctioned amateur competition such as the 47th Annual Amateur Sand Sculpture Contest held on Siesta Beach. There are four categories of competition in this annual competition and one prize for an overall people’s choice award. The Castle Vader took first place in the individual award this year. Finding Nemo / Squirt took the award for the adult team competition and was the people’s choice overall winner in this year’s contest on May 4.

Siesta Key is also known for its drum circles each Sunday, beginning with the call of a siren approximately one hour before sunset. The crowd gathers in a circle to the sound of the drum beats and dancers quickly emerge in unison. Drum circles also form on Englewood and Nokomis. A couple groups have tried to form on Bradenton Beach each Friday so you may catch them gathering if you are visiting.

Another way to love the beach is to become a beachfront owner. Last week I listed a two bedroom, two bath sixth-floor residence at 1211 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #608 in the updated Promenade community on Longboat Key. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1211 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #608 $759,000 Video Photo Slideshow

 

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing

 

Sarasota weekend events continue

by Roger Pettingell

Events over the Veteran's Day weekend

Some of the multi-day festivals in Sarasota continue through the week

Westin Hotel view from the rooftop bar
Rooftop view - The 19th floor view of the entrance from the newly opened hotel Roof Bar & Eats open cafe

There were a lot of events this past weekend, some coordinated with Veteran's Day, and others to kick off the festival season as Snow Birds flock to the area. There was something for everyone, art festivals, sand sculpting, lawn bowling, Sarasota MOD and artistic street chalk competitions. A couple of these events are still going strong and worth observing.

Even a visit to the newly opened 255-room Westin Hotel in downtown Sarasota was a worthwhile endeavor. The 19th floor rooftop bar and grill and EVOQ dining room are now open to the public. The views are spectacular from the rooftop and the casual elegance of the restaurant will be a splendid destination for many residents. EVOQ serves steaks and fresh seafood under the supervision of Chef Craig MacAvo, a Chicago native who has worked in some of the finest restaurants in the world.

A half dozen residences are now occupied in the VUE Sarasota Bay, the Westin Hotel companion with 141 properties of three different residences, plaza residences and penthouse floor plans. One of the three remaining open is a 3,415 square foot penthouse with three bedrooms and three full bathrooms. Amenities include a club room, fitness center, pool, lounge and conference room. The Westin Spa is open to VUE residents. The views are spectacular and the location near Marina Jack and downtown is very attractive to potential home buyers.

The seventh annual Bacchus on the Beach celebration Thursday and Friday was the event that seemingly flared the start of weekend festivities. A reception and dinner on the North Beach of the Longboat Key Club resort combined wine tasting and multi-course dinner with music under the stars. Or you could have attended the Breganze Harvest at the Portofino Restaurant later in the evening. The Portofino is one of four fine restaurants at the Longboat Key Club. Friday’s festivities started at 2 pm with a wine blending seminar. The highlight of the evening was the Bacchus on the Beach Stone Crab Celebration & Winemaker Auction. Proceeds of this festival went to help fund research at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.

St. Armands Circle events
Despite some rain on Sunday vendors at the St. Armands Circle Art Festival reported heavy sales

Events on St. Armands Circle continued with the 29th annual Fine Arts Festival attended by thousands of visitors Saturday and Sunday. Over 175 artists attended this year with photography, ceramics, paintings, jewelry and sculpture sales. This art festival was chosen as one of the best in the country of the 10,000 shows each year. St. Armands Circle stores joined in on the fun with goods for sale at the Annual Fall sidewalk Sale. Holiday Night on St. Armands is the next big scheduled event with the lighting of the Christmas tree and Santa Claus on December 1. Porches in the Park follows the next Saturday. The weekends in January are filled with the Circus Ring of Fame, Taste of St. Armands and the Winter Art Festival.

There were plenty of events to honor our veterans on Saturday including Veteran’s Appreciation Day on St. Armands Circle. A parade on Bay Isles Road on Longboat Key was filled with fanfare for veterans. A parade in downtown Sarasota paid tribute to women in the military and ended in Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park with the current director of veteran services for Goodwill Manasota, C.J. Bannister as keynote speaker.

US Open lawn bowling competition
Competition began Sunday for the week-long lawn bowling US Open at the Sarasota Lawn Bowling Club

Just north of the Municipal Auditorium it was hard to miss the action at the Historic Sarasota Lawn Bowling Club. The best lawn bowlers in the country started competition November 5 with preliminary events in the US Open. Sarasota was selected by Bowls USA for the US Open this year. The week-long tournament competition began on Saturday and runs through this Saturday. The Sarasota Lawn Bowling Club was established in the days of John Ringling in 1927. It is said to be one of the oldest sports clubs in the state.

Two weekend events attracted thousands to the southern part of Sarasota County. The Siesta Key Crystal Classic features some of the best master sand sculptors in the world. This competition attracts artists that create some amazing sculptures from sand proclaimed as the number one beach in the country. Get your vote in today for the People’s Choice Award in this International Sand Sculpting Festival. The festival is ADA Compliant with Mobi-mat trails and beach wheelchairs available.

Large crowds also were in attendance for the 10-year anniversary of the Chalk Festival on the fairgrounds of the Venice Airport. Evanescent, a word that means passing out of existence, is the theme for the festival this year. The Chalk Festival has won the Sarasota Magazine’s Readers Choice Award for Best Event in Sarasota County the last six years and attracts nearly 50,000 visitors. It also finishes today with Kim Jenkins music from 5 to 6 PM.

Hiss Studio
The Hiss Studio was toured as part of Sarasota MOD

I highlighted Sarasota MOD last week, a weekend of tours, panel discussion, and an honor to legendary architect Edward J. “Tim” Seibert. Seibert was featured with his architecture through an art exhibit at the Blue Pagoda and a film screening of The Seibert Factor on Saturday. Tours of the Hiss Studio and Umbrella House on Lido Shores were open Saturday and Sunday. Two sets of trolley tours examined the architecture of Seibert and other architects.

Last week I listed five residences for sale in Sarasota and Longboat Key. Four of these homes qualify for the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury brand, two of them on the waterfront of Mourning Dove Drive on Bird Key. A home at 4509 Camino Real and 708 Hideaway in Sarasota and another on the water at 708 Hideaway Bay Lane are luxury properties worth your look. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
663 Mourning Dove Drive $3,995,000 Video Photo Slideshow
639 Mourning Dove Drive $3,695,000 Video Photo Slideshow
4509 Camino Real $2,295,000    
708 Hideaway Bay Lane $1,649,000 Video Photo Slideshow
101 S. Gulfstream Ave, #11E $369,000   Photo Slideshow

 

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing

 

Siesta Key Beach updates

by Roger Pettingell

Retaining its Number 1 National Ranking

Facility and parking updates are key project elements

Siesta Key Beach pavilion
The recently completed Siesta Key Beach pavilion.

It was a warm Sunday recently with plenty of sunshine. So it was no wonder that the beaches would be crowded. But this was Siesta Key, once rated the number one beach in the nation by Dr. Beach. On this day canopied tents could be seen nearly side-by-side in each direction with seemingly unlimited numbers. The sands were also rated as best in the world as a result of the Great International Beach Challenge in 1987. The sand made of white quartz reflects nearly all of the sun’s rays making it a pleasant experience to walk on.

Over the years many factors came into play that began to erode the condition of the beach facilities. Siesta Beach continued its fantastic ride for tourism though and in 2015 was named the number one beach in the United States by TripAdvisor and AARP.

The beach with its facilities are now poised to retain its ranking as the best beach to be found in the nation, and the world. A $21.5 million restoration project started when the citizens of Siesta Key approved the Surtax III Economic Stimulus Program, which implemented a penny sales tax. Plans were set out to complete a project that would enhance the aging facilities built in the 1950s and expand the parking lots.

The designs in 2012 also included an east and west 15-foot wide esplanade of light-colored pavers that reflect the rays of the sun. They also planned for upgraded restrooms. A sheriff and lifeguard building is state of the art. The historic pavilion was restored as a public gathering place. Other improvements were made, a concession stand area was elevated to 19 feet creating a spectacular sunset viewing area, earning its name as the Sunset Deck.

Walkway to the shoreline
Access to the shoreline - An enhanced walkway was worked into the plans for easier access to the beach. Note the line of canopies in the background.

The parking lot was made easier to navigate and increased from 837 parking spaces to 980. Access from Beach Road was also improved. Over 1,300 palm and canopy trees that are native to the area replaced pine trees for aesthetics and less maintenance. Siesta Key Beach continues its tradition as a family-oriented park with new picnic tables and a children’s playground. Most of the park is handicapped accessible with ramps to upper areas and a long travel mat with access to the beachfront.

Siesta Key Beach is one of the safest in the world for families too. On its 100 acres of county-owned property there are highly trained lifeguards with the latest in life-saving equipment posted throughout the year. The shallow waters near the shore make it great for smaller children. Harmful currents are reduced since these depths are consistent along the shoreline.

The beach will continue its annual traditions. The annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic will begin November 11, 2016. For five days spanning that weekend sand-sculpting artists from around the world compete in this outdoor art gallery. There is an opening party on that Tuesday before the competition so you can meet the 24 participating artists. Some of the amateur artists that compete at Siesta Key Beach in an annual May contest go onto their professional careers from there. The Classic attracts over 17,000 visitors from outside of the area according to chamber of commerce statistics, nearly half of the 35,000 sand sculpting attendees.

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic master sand sculpting competition
The Siesta Key Crystal Classic master sand sculpting competition is held in November each year.

This year the 7th annual Fiesta on Siesta Key collegiate volleyball tournament was held in April. In that tournament 35 colleges from mostly southeastern United States competed. Siesta Key also participates in the Dig the Beach volleyball series of eight stops in Florida, with two stops held here in mid-May and early July. In this series professional and amateur teams of two compete for prize money and scholarships.

Last week I listed a country-club lifestyle home for sale in Stanhope Gate. I followed that up with marketing my Sarasota homes for sale in my Thursday REALTALK™ #95 video. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing of this University Park Country Club home or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
7043 Stanhope Place $710,000   Photo Slideshow

 

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Roger Pettingell?

Experience

  • Over 33 years as a top producing REALTOR® on Longboat Key and in Sarasota.

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  • Number 1 single Coldwell Banker agent in all of Florida for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017
  • Number 1 Realtor on Longboat Key and Bird Key for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Number 1 Realtor for all Sarasota in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Coldwell Banker Society of Excellence award in 2013, 2014 and 2016
  • Ranked among the top 250 agents in the country for 2014, 2016 and 2017 by REAL Trends as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

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About Roger Pettingell

Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.