BRADENTON -- Steven and Lola Sanford call it "Livin' the Riverwalk walk life."
The Sanfords, who rent a condo in Riverdance, 808 Third Ave. W., right across the street from the new Manatee Players theater, satisfy just about all of their needs by walking around their neighborhood without much use of a motor vehicle.
"If we had a Publix Supermarket on Riverwalk we would never drive," Steven Sanford said.
To dine, they said they stroll to O'Bricks Irish Pub & Martini Bar on 12th Street West as well as nearby Tarpon Pointe Grill & Tiki Bar and Pier 22 restaurant on First Avenue West. They buy fresh fruit and veggies at the Farmer's Market on 12th Street West and even stride to the CVS Pharmacy on First Street West and
nearby Manatee Memorial Hospital. There are hotels for their friends to stay and even craft fairs to buy items for their apartment.
Their morning ritual is to walk to the Manatee River and see the dolphins frolic.
Also, thanks to Realize Bradenton, there are numerous weekend events the Sanfords can walk to such as Sunday's Pickin' Picnic at the Riverwalk Pavilion on Third Avenue West, for which the Sanfords were the first guests to arrive.
"It's amazing how this area has built up," Sanford said. "We sold our big house in the Cascades in Sarasota and just downsized to Riverwalk. We like how everything is here. How can you beat seven hours of free music?"
The Sanfords, along with their red, white and blue-clad dog, Lola, were among an estimated Memorial weekend crowd of 1,000 who dodged about 45 minutes of raindrops around 2:15 p.m. Sunday to enjoy the free 2-10 p.m. event.
Live music was supplied by The Dram, Faceless Bandits, Wild Root, Applebutter Express and Thomas Wynn and The Believers.
Various local brewmasters offered craft beer alongside food vendors, artists and other fun activities.
Canela Vasquez-Hundley, 9, a student at Rowlett Magnet Elementary School in Bradenton, wrote on the "Before I die I want to...." board.
She wrote: "Give to the world."
"I want to make the world a better place," Canela said.
Other people wrote "play every golf course" and "live."
Canela's mother, teacher Elizabeth Vasquez-Hundley of Harllee Middle School in Bradenton, brought Canela and their dog, Lindo, to the event.
"We are always around here because it's just a great place to come and walk and see what's going on," Vasquez-Hundley said. "All the events they have down here are dog friendly, too."
Doug Holland, 45, owner of Jerk Dog Records, which specializes in new vinyl with a focus on garage punk in Village of the Arts, answered eventgoer questions about records with his daughter, Ramona, 9.
Danielle Rossbach and Jocelyn Howard from St. Petersburg, said they came to Pickin' Picnic as first-timers to Riverwalk and Bradenton.
"A friend's brother plays in a band," Howard said.
They said they got positive vibes from Riverwalk.
"I'm excited to explore the whole area," Rossbach said. "I like how it is circular and seems to serve the community."
"We don't have anything exactly like this in St. Pete," Howard said. "We have Williams Park, but it's not like this."
Bradenton's Sergio Walker, 29, and Britney Powell, 24, explored the Brandon Scott Artworks booth featuring art by Brandon Scott.
When the rain came and the skies erupted with thunder, hundreds ran under the pavilion, which was a bonanza for Laura Alcover of Alcover Massage at The Village Mystic, 1017 12th Ave. W. in Village of the Arts.
"There is no better way to spend a thunderous day than getting a massage at the beer pavilion," Alcover said.
Cindy Martz, owner of All Green Cleaning & Home Services, got a deep shoulder massage from Alcover.
"After a week of work, this is heaven," Martz said of the massage and relaxing at the peaceful-feeling Pickin' Picnic with her best friend, Elizabeth Lanoue.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.