If you love the sport of rowing, Nathan Benderson Park is the place to be this weekend for the 2016 NBP Rowing Festival.
The festival, operated by the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, features the Sarasota-Bradenton Chase Race. Presented by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, it will offer two days of regatta racing, live music, vendors, a kids zone, beer garden, community art and displays and more. Admission is free, and parking is $5.
This marks the third year Nathan Benderson Park has played host to the rowing festival. Melissa Mitchell, marketing and communications manager for Nathan Benderson Park, said the festival is held to show the community what the park can offer for the sport of rowing as well as kayaking and paddle boarding.
The event kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday with the Chase Race. Each crew will have a decision as they come out of the “return canal” — to race down the Regatta Island shore, in front of onlookers, or to continue across the lake and along the western shore to where the coaches will await.
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The band Ari and the Alibis will play from 10 a.m. until noon, offering listeners a fusion of funk, jazz, blues, and rock to get the day started. At 12:30 p.m., country rock band Rebel Heart will take the stage until 2:30 p.m. Jah Movement Reggae Band will close out the dayfrom 3-5 p.m.
On Sunday, events start at 10 a.m., and will run until 2 p.m. Senior rowers have been invited to take part in a Masters Rowing Demonstration. Men and women older than 50 will be participating for fun and competing for medals. This event is being held in partnership with Florida Senior Games.
On both Saturday and Sunday, event-goers can also visit a vendors’ market, which will offer everything from new and vintage art, repurposed items, jewelry, crafts and food.
More information can be found at NBPRowingFestival.org.