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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.

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1211 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #608 $759,000 Video Photo Slideshow


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Grand Prix Festival starts Saturday

by Roger Pettingell

Economic impact on county is highlighted

Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix visitors increase when Music Festival ends

Powerboats make their way out to the Gulf of Mexico
The Grand Prix Festival returns starting Saturday.

While the Sarasota Music Festival wraps up Saturday with the world premiere of Luminous Bodies, a commissioned chamber event by yMusic, the next festival begins to kick off, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix. Thousands will have traveled to Sarasota to attend either event as the hotels empty, then fill again for the Grand Prix with its many events June 23 to July 4.

The first event for the Grand Prix is the Bob Rizi Memorial Golf Classic, Saturday with an 8:30 AM start at The Meadows Country Club in Sarasota. Now in its third year, this memorial to the one-time owner of Bob Rizi Plumbing, he supported Sarasota non-profits and was on the board of Suncoast Charities for Children. His chairmanship of the Grand Prix Golf Classic were his ties to the Grand Prix and the golf tournament. He died in June of 2016.

On Sunday from 10 AM to 3 PM, automobile aficionados will want to attend the Car Show at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. On the grounds will be live music and food vendors. Trophies will be awarded in different categories of automobiles, enter your car for $20 at the gate. Admission is $5 each and free to children under 12. Among the other events, there will be a super duty truck display and a ride-in motorcycle show.

Also on Sunday boat owners can get involved in the Boat and Personal Watercraft Fun Run. Following registration at Marina Jack at 10 AM, the shotgun poker run start at 11 AM has a course of the Seafood Shack, The Old Salty Dog and The Bridge Tender on Bradenton Beach. The best poker hand wins $300, while second best wins $200 and third best wins $100. Your $20 entry fee includes lunch at Marina Jack and an event T-shirt.

Comedian Ron Feingold from Orlando performs next Wednesday at McCurdy’s Comedy Club in downtown Sarasota. He blends one-man A Cappella songs with his comedy for an entertaining performance. He has an extensive travel circuit of casinos, colleges and comedy clubs. A welcome reception for Ron at the Grand Prix Comedy Night starts at 5:30 PM, followed by the show at 7 PM.

The Friendliest Catch Fishing Tournament is also next Wednesday at the Sarasota Outboard Club. This is limited as a private event for clients of Suncoast Charities for Children agencies. Proceeds from many of the Grand Prix events go to support this charity organization.

Kettle of Fish, a popular local band classic rock and their own music, will perform at the Grand Prix Kickoff Party June 28 in the grand foyer of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Island casual dress for this event starting at 6 PM. Your $150 admission buys an evening of music, open bar, 50/50 raffle and silent auction. Mattison’s Bayside will have food stations throughout the venue. Purchase tickets through the Grand Prix website.

Meet and get autographs of the boat drivers next Friday at the Meet & Greet, Who’s in the Driver’s Seat event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel ballroom from 2 to 3:30 PM. Admission is a $5 donation for adults, 18 and under will be let in for free. This is the time to meet the racers who have traveled from around the world to participate in the Grand Prix. Get selfies of team pilots who will be autographing hero cards and giving out special gifts during this family event.

Miss Geico team in 2014
The popular Geico team returns as a superstock panther race team June 30 and July 1

Following the Meet & Greet there will be a Boats by the Bay free open party starting at 6 PM. This event was moved from Main Street (Boats on Main) in Sarasota to the Van Wezel parking lot this year. One of the most popular events during this party is the annual Miss Powerboat P1 Swimwear contest. First place winner receives $1,000, followed by second place at $750 and third at $500. The contest is limited to the first 20 to sign up and contestants must not include any indecent gestures for this family-oriented event.

Saturday, June 30, is the best day for race fans with a few events geared for spectators and motorcycle riders. Racing for superstock, production class & personal watercraft begins at 8:30 AM with the first heat for the AquaX class boats. Free live action viewing is best from the Lido Beach area. For motorcyclists, the annual Coastal Cruise Motorcycle Charity Ride is Saturday, starting at 9:30 PM in the Rossiter’s Harley Davidson parking lot. The route is out to Longboat Key and then back to the Finz Find tent at the Fan Fest party. Cash prizes are $300, $150 and $50 while one winner will receive a pair of tickets to the VIP viewing area Sunday on Lido Beach. The Fan Fest heats up at 10 AM, while the boats are in final preparation for racing in the Van Wezel parking lot.

Watch live streaming of races in the Van Wezel parking lot as Fan Fest continues on Sunday at 10 AM. The sold out VIP option at the Sandcastle Resort on Lido Beach has a special shuttle arranged for VIP ticket holders. The racing schedule resumes with the third heat of the AquaX class PWCs at 8:30 AM. There is a full day of racing that also concludes superstocks, super vees and super cats. You can view the full race schedule here or below, subject to change. Drivers will receive their awards beginning at 5:30 PM during Fan Fest.

The AquaX platforms are personal watercraft classes that are either enduro or sprint, with further divisions of amateur or pro. The enduro runs are two miles in length while sprints are typically limited to an eighth of a mile. Two-person teams of pilot and throttleman race in the powerboat platforms of stock, vee and cats. Generally limited to 50 feet in length, these boats can travel up to 200 mph. Hulls shaped as a V compete in the vee class while two-hulled boats compete in the Catamaran, or cat division.

Grand Prix Fireworks on Wednesday

The Sarasota Grand Prix officially comes to a close with the Spectacular Bayfront fireworks display on Wednesday. The Sarasota skies will be lit up with viewing throughout downtown Sarasota. Check the schedule of rooftop bars, but lawn chair viewing is also wonderful at Island and Bayfront parks. Boaters can anchor at a safe distance in the bay.

There is a great economic impact the Grand Prix has on the area. Last year the event attracted nearly 11,000 out-of-state and 36,000 in-state visitors to Sarasota to view the races. Add to that an additional 2,161 international spectators, media, organizers and participants and the amount of money generated is worth the cost of the Grand Prix. The total output was tallied at over $36 million that poured into the local economy. That also brought in $1,381,178 in state sales tax. The county received over a half million dollars in local sales, state reimbursement and hotel taxes. A breakdown is reported here.

2018 Powerboat Festival Schedule at a Glance

Date Event Location Time
June 23 Bob Rizi Memorial Golf Classic Meadows Country Club 8:30AM
June 24 Car Show Sarasota Fairgrounds 10AM-3PM
June 24 Boat & PWC Fun Run Marina Jack, Sarasota 11AM
June 27 Fishing Tournament (Private) Sarasota Outboard Club 9AM
June 27 Grand Prix Comedy Night McCurdy's Comedy Theatre 5:30PM
June 28 Kickoff Party Van Wezel Parking Lot 6PM-10PM
June 29 Driver’s Autograph Session Hyatt Regency Ballroom 2PM-3:30PM
June 29 Boats by the Bay Party Van Wezel Parking Lot 6PM-11PM
June 29 Miss Powerboat P1 contest Van Wezel Parking Lot 6:30AM-10:30PM
June 30 Motorcycle Charity Ride Rossiter's Harley-Davidson 9:30AM-11AM
June 30 Grand Prix Fan Fest Van Wezel Parking Lot 10AM-6PM
June 30 Grand Prix Races Lido Key beach 8:30AM-5PM
July 1 Grand Prix Fan Fest Van Wezel Parking Lot 10AM-6PM
July 1 VIP viewing (Sold Out) Sandcastle Resort at Lido Beach 10AM-4PM
July 1 Grand Prix Races Lido Key beach 8:30AM-4PM
July 1 Race Team Awards Van Wezel Parking Lot 5:30PM
July 4 Fireworks Spectacular Island Park, Sarasota 9PM

Saturday Race Schedule at a Glance

Event Times
AquaX Pro Race 1 8:30AM-9:30AM
Superstock Practice + Race 1,2 9:30AM-10:30AM
P1-3, P4-6 Races 11AM-12:30PM
Official Testing 12:30PM-3:30PM
AquaX Race 2 4PM

Sunday Race Schedule at a Glance

Event Times
AquaX Race 3 8:30AM
P1 Superstock Race 3&4 9:15AM
Super Vee Lite Class Race 10:30AM
Superstock 300 Class Race 12PM
Super Cat Class Race 1:30PM
Unlimited/Super Vee Class Race 3PM
Awards Ceremony 5:30PM

We know that Florida is a great place to relax after working years saving up for retirement. Last week Jacquelyn Pica, contributing writer for U.S. News and World Report and staff writer for the Penny Hoarder, wrote that Sarasota was one of eight best places to retire in the Sunshine State. She was especially kind to the Gulf coast cities in her selections. She cited Sarasota’s culture, museums and beautiful gardens as some of the reasons for her ranking. She also made her ranking based on the modest median home value of $189,400 and population of retirees at 30 percent. In October of last year Sarasota was ranked Number 1 in a U.S. News analysis of 100 potential U.S. retirement cities. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.


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


Memorial Day celebration

by Roger Pettingell

A day to honor those who sacrificed

Events to consider for this holiday and the summer ahead

Superboats make their way out to the Gulf of Mexico
The Grand Prix returns with races on July 1 and 2.

I hope that you have good plans today for Memorial Day. It is significant that we honor those who have fought for our freedoms. There are many events today, in many different ways we can celebrate from concerts to parades. The weather is expected to cooperate, celebrate those heroes with family that this day is recognized for.

If you read this in time, the Sarasota Memorial Day Parade begins at 10 AM on Main Street, starting at Osprey Avenue and ending at J.D. Hamel Park. This is the Battle of Midway 75th anniversary and a scholar of that famous sea battle, Dr. Jim D'Angelo will be the keynote speaker in the park. Bring lawn chairs and coolers to Philippi Estate Park where the Sarasota Concert Band will perform from 2 to 4 PM in its Memorial Day Concert. There is a $5 fee for adults at this event.

In Venice the Memorial Day Celebration will begin at 10 AM in Patriots Park, followed by an open house at the American Legion Post 159 in Venice. Memorial Day will be celebrated at Veterans’ Monument Park in Bradenton, near the Riverwalk, starting at 9 AM.

Those in the military will receive a salute and a discount at participating businesses on St. Armands Circle. A Military Appreciation decal will appear on businesses with special offers from 10 AM to 8 PM to all those who served in the military. Jungle Gardens in Sarasota will offer a free entry with one paid entry to anyone who served. They are open today for this special from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Summer is a time to enjoy Sarasota

It is the unofficial start to summer, a good time to start making plans for some of the summer activities and events that are coming our way.

The Sarasota Music Festival officially starts next Sunday, a three week series of concerts by professional and highly talented student musicians. The first concert is the Artist Showcase on June 8. A different Artist Showcase will be performed each Thursday during the festival in Holley Hall beginning at 4:30 PM. Beginning at 8 PM each week in the Sarasota Opera House, chamber music will fill the air in the Friday Festival series. The Saturday Symphony series each week at 8 PM in the Opera House is an ongoing tradition.

Over 500 students nationwide auditioned for 60 spots in the Rising Star series of movements and chamber music. These ensembles of students will perform on different days in Holley Hall. Renowned scholar, educator and pianist, Robert Levin will give an insightful lecture, Saturday, June 17 in Holley Hall starting at 1:30 PM. I will write more about the festival next Monday in my REALTALKplus™ article. Tickets are available from their Music Festival website.

Thousands trek to Sarasota, Independence Day weekend, for the annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix races with best viewing on Lido Beach. The race dates are Saturday and Sunday, July 1 and 2, but the activities surrounding the Grand Prix begin June 24 with the Bob Rizi Memorial Golf Classic at The Meadows Country Club. There is a car show planned on Main Street at Lakewood Ranch, a Boat & Personal Watercraft "Fun Run" at Marina Jack and on June 28 there are two events, “The Friendliest Catch” Fishing Tournament that is by invitation only at the Sarasota Outboard Club on City Island, and the Grand Prix Comedy Night special at McCurdy's Comedy Theatre featuring comedian John Carfi. This year the AquaX and P1 Superstock races will be streamed live on Facebook. I will provide more information in my REALTALKplus™ article that week, June 19.

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, local theaters, farmers markets, festivals, fireworks and concert activities are all listed on our upcoming events page. Take civic pride in the events of today and enjoy the summer.

Last week I listed a wonderful penthouse in Marina Tower ideally located in the heart of downtown Sarasota, this one-of-a-kind residence is a showcase of panoramic views overlooking the bay, Gulf of Mexico, a bustling city life and Marina Jack. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

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1233 N. Gulfstream Drive $3,695,000 Video  


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Sarasota PowerBoat Grand Prix 2016

by Roger Pettingell

Sarasota Grand Prix Festival is this week

More excitement and block party added to annual event

Superboats make their way out to the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday
Superboats make their way out to the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday in the final round of races last year.

The Sarasota Music Festival ended on Saturday, on Sunday one of the largest festivals of the year began. The Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, now in its 32nd year, has changed in the past two years eliminating some events and replacing them with events that better fit the vision of the nine-day event production by Suncoast Charities for Children. Thousands flock to Sarasota for the excitement and festivities associated with powerboat racing. There are so many visitors that the economic impact is tremendous, pouring over $32 million into the local economy and generating nearly $443,000 in local and state taxes.

For the first time last year CBS Sports broadcast the racing live from coast to coast. This year the racing is sanctioned by sanctioned by Powerboat P1, USA Superstock P1 National Championship and AquaCross (AquaX). For two days Lido Beach becomes a haven for race fans on Saturday and Sunday to catch the best view of the action.

Also added this year is a downtown block party, “Boats on Main” on Friday from 6 to 11 p.m. featuring Luna Blue, a well-known central Florida classic rock band. This event replaces the power boat parade but visitors still have a good opportunity to meet the drivers earlier in the day on Friday from noon to 2 p.m. in the Hyatt Regency ballroom.

The festival actually began on Saturday with the Bob Rizi Memorial Golf Classic at Laurel Oak Country Club. On Sunday there was a car show in Lakewood Ranch, a shotgun start at Marina Jack that kicked off the watercraft fun run and a “Ride in the Park” motorcycle ride that benefited Suncoast Charities for Children. This is a non-profit organization that provides services for children through adults with special needs.

It picks back up tomorrow night on Tuesday with the festival kick-off party, “Grand Prix by the Sea”. Tickets can be purchased for $100 each online through noon on Tuesday with proceeds going to Suncoast Charities for Children. The party will be held at the Sarasota Yacht Club from 6 to 10 p.m. and feature the popular band, Kettle of Fish. There will be a 50/50 raffle and silent auction. The next public event is on Wednesday, “Fan Fest” from 5 to 9 p.m. at Fleming’s Steak House on Siesta Drive.

Qualifying races for the P1 SuperStock and AquaX divisions runs on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Sarasota event for P1 SuperStock racing is part of an international series that moves to Gosport in the United Kingdom on July 9-10. Two-man crews control 28-foot boats of 250 horsepower and higher and travel at speeds over 70 MPH on flat, open water. The AquaX series began in London in 2011 and features jet ski sprints of 10 minutes each and enduro races that put competitors together in three classes of 200 through 300 horsepower sit-down watercrafts. The finals for AquaX professional racers start at 9 a.m. on Sunday, followed by the amateurs at 9:45 a.m.

The powerboat Sarasota Invitational Classes of Unlimited, Super Cat, Super Vee, Pro Am 1, Pro Am 2, Cat Light and Super Vee Light powerboats have open practice on Saturday from 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. The unlimited class may be the most exciting powerboat racing with speeds of 200 mph. The engines are the same as those that power Chinook military helicopters and throw rooster-tails as high as 300 feet. On Sunday the powerboats conduct their races starting at 11 a.m. and except for a brief intermission to refuel the helicopters, continue to 3:15 on Sunday. The SuperStock division completes all racing at 3:45 p.m. on Sunday.

The best viewing for all the races is on a stretch of land on the Lido Key beaches west shore. There are two concerns that the county addressed with ordinances. The first is the issue for the protection of nesting turtles. Therefore, police will be looking for glass bottles, pets at any time or walking on to the beach before sunrise and after sunset. Security is another issue. Unattended personal items will be confiscated and temporary canopies left overnight will not be permitted. Police will post signs with these holiday weekend restrictions. Online tickets are available for a special VIP race view from Sandcastle Resort on Lido Key, Saturday's VIP race view advance tickets are purchased here while Sunday's viewing are online through this ordering page.

Grand Prix Fireworks on Monday
Return to downtown Sarasota for the fireworks at Island Park on Monday.

The boats will enter Sarasota Bay through the Centennial Park boat ramp and cross over the bay to the Gulf through the New Pass inlet. At midnight on Thursday through 6 p.m. on Sunday Centennial Park will be closed for parking except those with special passes. Centennial Park is across the street from Publix on Tamiami Trail at 10th street. Boat traffic will be restricted at New Pass during race times.

Stay for the award presentations at 5 p.m. on Sunday at Centennial Park, then return Monday night for one of the area’s best fireworks displays from Island Park. Whatever your plans are for the holiday I wish you a safe and enjoyable weekend. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

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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.