Focus on Manatee: June 24, 2013: Free destinations showcase Bradenton area's history

June 24, 2013 

We are now going into our summer tourism season, and to date, visitation is up from this time last year.

Many of you know that a high percentage of visitors come to enjoy their vacation here, either to visit their family or friends playing in a sports tournament at one of the many venues we have on the mainland or just relaxing on the beach.

However, a big part of our ongoing growth in tourism is attributed to showcasing many of the rich cultural assets our destination has to offer, one of them being historical properties.

Did you know we have five unique historical properties in the Bradenton area that not only our visitors can enjoy but our residents as well? These free museums offer a variety of ways to become immersed in our community's unique history.

The sites within the Clerk of Circuit Court's Historical Resources are The Florida Maritime Museum, the Manatee County Agricultural Museum, the Manatee Village Historical Park, the Palmetto Historical Park and the Manatee County Historical Records Library. These are led by one of the most dynamic historians in our county, Cathy Slusser, director of historical resources, with 30 years of experience and a passion for preserving our local history.

The museums include:

• The Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., in a 1912 schoolhouse in the Cortez fishing village. The staff, volunteers and board work to engage the community in learning how Florida waterways were used for navigation, commerce, transportation and harvesting, as well as providing hands-on programming in the craft of boat building. The museum offers lectures, events and cultural programs, exhibitions and demonstrations that highlight the rich and interesting maritime history not only of Cortez, but the entire State of Florida.

• The Manatee County Agricultural Museum, 1015 Sixth St. W., Palmetto, focuses on exhibiting one of Manatee County's main economic drivers: agriculture. The museum provides a fun-filled agricultural learning experience for all ages as you discover the importance of and need for agriculture. Visitors learn about the commodities produced in Manatee County such as peppers, tomatoes, celery, citrus, flowers, cattle and fish. You'll learn how farming methods have changed over time and leave with a new appreciation for how food is grown.

• Manatee Village Historical Park, 1404 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton, consists of 13 historic or replica buildings and a steam engine. Park visitation

runs the gamut -- from locals, born and raisedin Manatee County,previously unawareof the rich and storied history in this area,to returning visitors, especially European tourists, who appreciate seeing our relatively "young" country value its shorter history and preserving it for future generations.

Each building is furnished with period artifacts, and the Wiggins General Store features exhibits telling the story of Manatee County's heritage.

• The Palmetto Historical Park, 515 10th Ave. W., (Old Main Street), Palmetto includes a main building, a 1913 Carnegie Library, aswell as five other historic or replica buildings situated around the library building. Tours of the park allow visitors to travel back in time to a historic post office, schoolhouse, home and church.

The Cypress House Military Museum presents the stories of local veterans and displays of their uniforms, equipment and other memorabilia. Palmetto Historical Park is a place to learn about Palmetto's history while enjoying quality events.

All of the museums are free and open throughout the yearwith some Saturday hours depending on the site. For information or hours, visit manateeclerk.com/historical/Main.aspx.

For additional information on the destination, visit BradentonGulfIslands.com.

We also invite you to follow us on Facebook at "Visit Bradenton Gulf Islands" and Twitter @VisitBradenton.

Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, can be reached at Elliott.Falcione@BACVB.com or 941-729-9177, ext. 222.

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