Sunday's Pickin' Picnic will draw many to Bradenton's Riverwalk

jtate@bradenton.comMay 26, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Youth and adults can bring a picnic and blanket to enjoy the indie rock, bluegrass, pop and country crooning of local teens and established acts during the Pickin' Picnic, taking place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday at the Riverwalk Pavilion and Mosaic Amphitheater.

This all-day event, organized by Realize Bradenton and about a dozen other local nonprofit organizations, will feature more than 10 acts. The Applebutter Express, a bluegrass and ukulele funk fusion band, is in high demand in the Tampa Bay area.

Laura McKeithen, who works in creative services and community building for Realize Bradenton, said the teen acts are from the Bradenton area and have produced CDs. She encourages everyone to check out the acts.

"It's a free event and people can enjoy the Riverwalk," she said.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the focus will be on youth, with performers from the Del Couch Music Education Foundation performing at the Mosaic Amphitheater. Food, beverages and CDs will be on sale.

From 4 to 10 p.m., attention moves to the pavilion, where some of the area'sbest-known bands willperform. The latter half of the event is less kid-oriented, and beer will be available.

"There will be vendors there selling beer and this is geared toward the young professionals and older crowd," said McKeithen.

The Pickin' Picnic will be one of the last planned events on the Riverwalk during the summer months, as event organizers take a break to regroup for next fall, winter and spring.

McKeithen explained that a Fourth of July party, hosted by the Courtyard Marriot, will be the last major summer event on the Riverwalk. It will feature a buffet and view of the fireworks.

"It's a community event," said McKeithen, who also encourages people to come to the Riverwalk with their own picnic to watch fireworks.

McKeithen said the rainy season makes it difficult to plan events without fear that they'll be interrupted by Mother Nature.

"Because of weather and hurricane season, no real events are planned for the Riverwalk," she said. "We use the summertime to prepare."

However, she said that regardless if events are not planned for the Riverwalk, people will show up.

"It provides its own entertainment. People are always there and it's always crowded," said McKeithen.

Bradenton Councilman Patrick Roff agreed.

"Every time I go there, there's no shortage of people," said Roff, who also praised Realize Bradenton for its work at the Riverwalk.

He said that it's been the city's culture that things tend to slow down during summer months; however, he feels the Riverwalk will be packed daily with parents and students having fun using the Riverwalk's amenities.

"Whether there are events or not, people are always out there," he said. "People are looking for things to do besides going to the beach."

Lorena Vega, 26, hasn't attended a planned event at the Riverwalk, but comes at least three times a week and continues to do so throughout the summer.

"If we randomly decide to come walk and there's stuff going on, then that's fun," said Vega. "That's cool, but I wouldn't necessarily come just for that."

Vega and her young son, who skateboards and go to the playground's water park, create their own experiences at the Riverwalk.

"It's always more fun when it's spontaneous fun," said Vega.

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Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. Follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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