MANATEE -- With a month-long schedule of events, Manatee County history will be celebrated and explored as part of the 37th annual Manatee Heritage Days celebration.
"We want residents and visitors to the community to learn about our history," said Cathy Slusser, director of historical resources for the office of the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court. "It's important for everyone, residents and visitors, to understand that this community has not always been the way it is. We want people to understand what struggles were gone through in order to get us to where we are today."
While the celebration officially began Tuesday, events run through March 31 at different historical sites and organizations throughout Manatee County. Special exhibits,
re-enactments, lectures and open houses will be among events taking place.
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"They are just some old favorites," Slusser said. "Some things that have happened this time of year for many years to give people an opportunity to learn about the past."
Manatee Heritage Days began as a week-long celebration before it grew to a nine-day event. In 1995, Manatee Heritage Days expanded to the month-long event.
Most events vary by day but some are offered multiple times throughout the month.
At DeSoto National Memorial, there will be a program from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily called Living History at Camp Uzita, which will reveal "Spanish and Native American life in 16th century Florida," according to the news release.
The Historic Valentine House at Robinson Preserve will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the Downtown Bradenton Farmers Market will take place on Old Main Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday in March.
"There is something for everybody," Slusser said. "There is a lot to do."
There are regular events such as Parrish Heritage Day and chili cookoff, and some new events, too, such as the Fishing Heritage Festival at Jiggs Landing from 9 a.m. to noon March 19. It will give anglers a chance to learn about the early days at the historic fish camp.
"They can come and fish just like people used to come to Jiggs Landing to do," Slusser said.
At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, there will be an opening reception for the "Gold in the Gulf: A History of Florida's Shrimp Industry" exhibit at Florida Maritime Museum, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez. The exhibit, which explores the history of shrimping in Florida, runs through April 16.
Most events are free but some require a reservation or admission fee.
Information: manateeclerk.com or call 941-741-4070.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.