Florida State Fair
The Manatee County Fair kicked off carnival season in Florida; now it’s time to head to Tampa for the big show.
The Florida State Fair begins Thursday. This year’s offerings include a plethora of entertainment options, including circus and magic acts, helicopter rides, animal shows (alligators, Clydesdales and giraffes, oh my) live music and the usual midway attractions.
New and adventurous fair foods available on the midway this year include a mac and cheese quesadilla, taco grilled cheese, Cuban pizza and the biggest mozzarella stick you’ve ever laid eyes on.
Details: Thursday through Feb. 18. Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa. Kids ages 6-11: $6-$7. Adults: $11-$13. All-day ride armband: $25-$35.
Bradenton Area River Regatta
By water and land, the Bradenton Area River Regatta arrives this Saturday to entertain you.
See powerboat racing, flyboard spectacles and vintage boat displays on the beautiful Manatee River.
Live entertainment starts at noon in Bradenton and Palmetto. Bradenton natives We the Kings will headline at Bradenton Riverwalk and country kings The Andy Pursell Band will headline in Palmetto.
Pyrotechnic wizards Zambelli International will light up the night with a musically choreographed fireworks display to close the regatta.
Best of all, it’s free to attend and family-friendly.
Details: All day Saturday in Bradenton and Palmetto. Free.
Gospel music convention
Are you ready to sing?
We hope so, because one of the biggest gospel music conventions in the country is underway in Palmetto.
Bill Bailey’s 2019 Winter Gospel Music Convention will bring six days of uplifting and spiritual music to the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
Popular gospel acts from throughout the South will perform.
The 10 a.m. chapel services and 1:30 p.m. matinee shows are free to attend.
Purchase individual tickets for nightly shows or get a pass for the whole convention; group rates are also available.
Details: Through Saturday. Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. $5-$145.
African-American History Month at Manatee Libraries
The Manatee County Public Library System is honoring African-American history with a month full of special events.
This week during Coffee and Music Friday at the South Manatee Library, visitors will be treated to an hour of traditional African folkdance, music, songs and storytelling as Myron Jackson of the Kuumba Dancers and Drummers performs.
Details: 2-3 p.m. Friday. South Manatee Library, 6081 26th Street W., Bradenton. Free.
All aboard the mystery train in Parrish, where you can play a part in a comedic murder mystery on wheels.
The Parrish Players are conspiring with the Florida Railroad Museum to present this fun and fanciful ride that also incorporates real local history into the experience.
Details: Feb. 8-10, Feb. 15-17, Feb. 22-24 and March 1-3. $49.50-$59.50.
Info: 941-776-0906. frrm.org.
St. Barbara Greek Festival
The 35th annual festival is where old-world customs and traditions meet, with authentic Greek food completing the experience.
Enjoy live entertainment while shopping unique vendors.
For those who feel a yen for culture or crave fine dining, this festival has you covered.
Visitors of all ages will find a variety of things to do at the festival. The authentic, homemade cuisine boasts a variety of traditional recipes brought directly from Greece by St. Barbara’s Greek cooks who came to America decades ago.
Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and noon-8 p.m. on Sunday.
Details: Thursday-Sunday. St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, 7671 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota. $4 for adults, free for children under 12. There is no charge for admission on Thursday.
Info: 941-355-2616. StBarbaraFestival.org.