Food festivals. Everybody loves them. Which is why local residents flock to the annual Taste of Manatee. This year marks the 23rd taste extravaganza, which is 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday along downtown Bradenton’s scenic waterfront.
Residents can sample dishes from Mattison’s, Nicki’s, Cafe Seven, the Waterfront Restaurant, Thai Cafe, Ferraro’s Pizza and other local restaurants.
Last year, an estimated 8,000 people attended. Since the festival attracts so many, more area restaurants have signed on this year, going from eight to more than 25 food booths, said Scott Reed, event coordinator.
“So it’s getting bigger and better,” he said.
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Among the featured cuisines will be American, Italian, barbecue and Jamaican.
But food won’t be the only thing served. There will be a variety of family-friendly entertainment and admission is free.
Festivalgoers can stroll through the arts and crafts booths along Barcarrota Boulevard, hang out in the Tiki Bar tent watching sports on big-screen TVs, view ice carvings and participate children’s games. There also will be a motorcycle show and live music galore.
A new attraction this year will be the community tent, featuring various community organizations such as the Manatee Players and Ducks Unlimited.
The groups will hand out informational packets and freebies.
@BR LabelRed:Schedule of events
1:30-3:30 p.m.: G-Force
4-6:30 p.m.: The Tony Tyler Band
7-10 p.m.: The Shaman Band
Noon-2 p.m.: Big Daddy
2-4 p.m.: Jennifer & The New Digs
4-6 p.m.: Koko Ray & The Soul Providers
12:30-1 p.m.: Manatee County Clogger’s
1-1:30 p.m.: Ellen Meade Dance Studio’s and School of Creative Learning
1:30-2 p.m.: Manatee County Clogger’s
2-2:15 p.m.: Performance by Manatee County Fair Queen Tiffany Elder
2:15-2:30 p.m.: Restaurant Awards presented by Mayor Poston
2:25-2:40 p.m.: Thai Lotus Restaurant singer Tida Duangdao and dancer Lena Choo Joy
2:40-3 p.m.: Bayshore Honey Bears
3-3:30 p.m.: Manatee School for the Arts
3:30-4 p.m.: Manatee Wildcat Cheerleaders
4-4:30 p.m.: Jayde Howard’s Dance Legacy and Starlight Twirlers
4:30 p.m.: Starlight Twirlers
There will also be football games on the big screen TV.