The arrival of autumn may not bring cooler weather, but it will change the atmosphere of downtown Bradenton. Several seasonal events kick off this month, offering plenty of family-friendly activities. From street parties and art work to courtyard serenades and free films, there’s plenty to see and do in our own backyard.
Here’s a sampling of what’s going on:
Get Down Downtown
Perhaps the biggest attraction is the return of Get Down Downtown, which begins at 6 p.m. today. The free street party, held every third Thursday through June along Old Main Street, typically draws hundreds of residents who indulge in food and arts and crafts vendors. Sometime there are games for children. But the main draw is the music. Tonight’s headliner is the Shaman Band with special guest Tony Tyler. The event ends at 10 p.m.
Vendors who are interested in participating can contact Dawn Mishler at 518-4997.
Reels at Rossi Park
Free films at Rossi Park have attracted a steady crowd to downtown Bradenton since it began in February, said Anna Pohl, downtown events coordinator for the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority. A popular film is shown every third Friday of the month at sunset on a jumbo screen in front of The Promenade condos at the park — between Third Avenue West and Ninth Street West. The event draws an average of 350 people, who come with blankets and chairs, to sit on the lawn near the scenic Manatee River. Some residents even watch from the comfort of their boats in the Manatee River.
“In many ways, it is such a community event,” she said. “It’s a good representation of Bradenton.”
This Friday’s screening is “Pirates of the Caribbean.” The first 100 guests will be offered free chips and salsa provided by Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Pittsburgh Pirates will be on hand with its fast-pitch booth and children will receive free pirate booty, Pohl said. Other food items, such as hamburgers, hot dogs and ice cream will be available for purchase.
The film schedule includes Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” in October, “The Express” in November and “Elf” in December. Beginning in November, after daylight savings time, films will be shown at 7 p.m.
Look for a special giveaway drawing during the November screening. The winner will have their family driven in style to the next screening in a limousine and will also receive a gift certificate to an area restaurant.
While next year’s film schedule is still in the planning stages, Pohl gave a hint at what’s to come. In January, film activities include fun with watercolor to coincide with the American Watercolor Society traveling exhibition at ArtCenter Manatee. In March, to tie in with Realize Bradenton’s Baseball Hall of Fame celebrations for the city, Reels at Rossi Park will present a to-be-determined baseball flick. And April will include a screening of 1998’s “Godzilla” featuring Matthew Broderick. During the film, colorful geckos will be displayed as part of Gecko Fest. There will also be kids activities and food vendors.
Free parking is available at Rossi Park and on the first two decks at the Promenade Parking Garage.
South Florida Museum
The museum’s Think + Drink Cinema program unveils its latest series for fall, called “Eat, Drink and Be Merry,” which begins Oct. 1. It follows the museum’s well-attended summer music film series. The new series will be held at 7 p.m. Thursdays with live music beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are $8 general admission, $6 seniors and $5 for members. RSVPs are required.
Here’s a schedule of films:
Oct. 1 — “Big Night”
Oct. 8 — “The Thin Man”
Oct. 15 — “Babette’s Feast”
Oct. 22 — “All in This Tea” with a special screening of “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe”
Oct. 29 — “Eat Drink Man Woman”
Nov. 5 — “Chocolat”
Downtown Bradenton Farmers’ Market
The farmer’s market kicks off in October. Held on Old Main Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday, the market features fresh veggies and fruit from local farmers. This season, a new element to the market, called Mainly Art, will be held every third Saturday of the month. There, area arts vendors will sell everything from jewelry to antiques and more.
Guests will also have a chance to listen to local bands perform live at the weekly farmers’ market. Here’s a schedule of performances:
Oct. 3 — Sundown Duo
Oct. 10 — Howlin’ Bob Fieberts
Oct. 17 — Harley Gay
Oct. 24 — Tom Barrett
Oct. 31 — Dan Crawford
Nov. 7 — Jazzology
Nov. 14 — Jack Nevins
Nov. 21 — Gary Reilly
Nov. 28 — Harley Gay
Courthouse Square Concerts
October also brings the return of concerts in front of the old Manatee County Courthouse. An artist will be featured every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through May 1. Tables and chairs will be set up on the courthouse lawn for residents. You can bring your own lunch or buy food from a vendor on site. The courthouse concert season will kick off Oct. 23 with Jimi Banks. On Oct. 30, Chipotle Mexican Grill will give free burritos to the first 75 people who attend, said Pohl. Performing that day will be folk/jazz musician Ishmael Katz.
Other performances include:
Nov. 6 — Brian Langill
Nov. 13 — Al Fuller
Nov. 20 — Dave Mankes
Nov. 27 — Stacey Knights
Dec. 4 — Brian Langill
Dec. 11 — Dean Miller
Dec. 18 — Jazzology Duo
Village of the Arts
Bradenton’s local arts colony continues its monthly ArtWalks the first weekend of each month — from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. By October, all the galleries will be reopened for the winter season. Look for two or three new galleries to open, said Bonni Brown.
Also, Bonni Bakes will host an art show benefitting breast cancer research during October. The event, held 6 p.m. Oct. 2 during the Village’s October ArtWalk, is called “Making Strides With Artsy Undies.” The show will have decorated bras and panties made by the public.