MYAKKA CITY -- A Taste of Myakka crowd estimated at nearly 1,000 helped chip away Sunday at the $300,000 needed to reopen the Historic 1914 School in Myakka City, which was last used in 1992.
Although exact totals were not immediately available, Marilyn Coker, president of the Myakka City Historical Society, said she thought the 2013 Taste of Myakka held at Herrmann's Royal Lipizzaner Stallions in Myakka City would top last year's event, which raised about $7,000.
"The enthusiasm the people here have for historic schools and historic horses is inspiring," Coker said.
The students, teachers and staff of Myakka City Elementary School
helped the cause by raising $2,000 for the historic school.
Kolton Houser, 15, and Riley Shoemaker, 15, both Myakka City Boy Scouts, presented Coker with a $2,000 check on behalf of Myakka City Elementary.
The goodies of Taste of Myakka and a stirring performance by Gabriella Herrmann and the Lippizans all helped the Historical Society in its efforts to raise the $300,000 needed to restore the 5,500-square-foot 1914 school in time for a November, 2014 grand opening.
When completed, the school will feature a library branch, computer rooms, two large classrooms, an auditorium for all kinds of events, including weddings, a screened-in porch on the back of the school and two bathrooms, Coker said.
"We are trying to protect the history of our community," Coker added.
Gabriella Herrmann showed her passion for the historic school when, in a break between action featuring her leaping horses, she told the crowd, "When these old buildings are gone, they are gone forever. We must protect them."
Herrmann's show arena positively shimmered under blue, cloudless skies and a cool breeze and the good weather seemed to stimulate appetites.
Taste of Myakka offered Susie Q's family restaurant, Big Red's Ribs, elephant ears and funnel cakes from Bryan Coker's J&L Concessions and other vendors.
Joadie Durfee, a fourth grade teacher at Kinnan Elementary School in Bradenton, made a beeline to Susie Q's where owner Susanne Teuton, her hard-working brother, Bucky Godwin and her right and left hand helpers, Rodney Teuton and Jackie Escobar, were busy putting sliced green tomatoes through an egg batter wash and flour before dipping them in boiling peanut oil.
Batter-rich frog legs, gator strips, sweet potato chips and other delights were also going into the fryers.
"Good old Southern food," said Durfee who grew up in Myakka City. "I think it's wonderful what they are doing to keep Myakka's heritage. People will absolutely want to get married in the 1914 school. It will be a popular venue."
"Myakka is all about wholesome, hard-working people," chimed in part-time Myakka City resident Candy Eason, who drove all the way from her other home in northwest Bradenton to get Susie Q's frog legs.
"Myakka is a small town community," Durfee added.
Beth Ferris, Ruthann McLearie and Lois Fisher, gave a thumb's up to Taste of Myakka Sunday.
"This is tops and it's for a great cause," said Fisher. "These horses are absolutely beautiful."
"We love it here," McLearie said.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686 or tweet @RichardDymond.