Scenes from the Bradenton Area River Regatta
By land and by water, the Bradenton Area River Regatta arrives this weekend to entertain all of Manatee County.
The watersports festival is a chance to see some of the fastest boats in the world zip down the Manatee River.
And there is so much more to enjoy at this year’s regatta.
Festivities in Bradenton and Palmetto on Saturday include live music all afternoon, a flyboarding performance, dog shows, a fishing tournament, family fun areas, food, beer and more.
Here are five things to know before you head out to the 2019 Bradenton Area River Regatta.
What’s happening and where to see it
The Regatta schedule is packed and some events overlap, so it’s best to plan out your schedule ahead of time.
Here’s the lineup for the day:
▪ DeSoto Little Anglers Fishing Tournament — 8:30 a.m. at the Palmetto Pier;
▪ “Dog Frisbee Shows” — Noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the Bradenton Riverwalk Main Lawn;
▪ Stunt Dog Shows — 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Bradenton Riverwalk Ampitheater;
▪ “Distinguished Daredevils Variety Show” — 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Bradenton Riverwalk Ampitheater;
▪ Pittsburgh Pirates/Bradenton Marauders Family Fun Zone and Area Food Festival — All day at the Bradenton Riverwalk main lawn;
▪ Kristen Smoyer, 2016 World Flyboard Champ — 7:15 p.m. at Pier 22 Restaurant.
▪ Vintage Powerboat Show — 10 a.m.-7 p.m. at Riverside Avenue/Riverside Boat Ramp;
▪ Pittsburgh Pirates/Bradenton Marauders Family Fun Zone and Area Food Festival, USF Bulls and Tampa Bay Lightning Street Teams and DeSoto Beer Garden — All day long at Riverside West Park.
On the river:
The powerboat races can be viewed from both sides of the Manatee River. Some prime places to watch are Bradenton Riverwalk, the Palmetto Pier, Riverside Drive and the Green Bridge, which will be closed to vehicle traffic all day.
▪ Powerboat race test runs — Formula 3 at 10 a.m. and Formula 2 at 10:30 a.m.;
▪ Qualifying heats — Formula 3 at noon;
▪ USF Ceremonial Band — 1 p.m. at the base of the Green Bridge;
▪ Qualifying heats continued — Formula 2 at 2 p.m.;
▪ Championship races — Formula 3 at 3 p.m. and Formula 2 at 3:45 p.m.;
▪ Zambelli Fireworks Spectacular — 6:45 p.m.
Fireworks will be visible from both sides of the river, and this year, the Green Bridge will remain open to pedestrians during the display.
Music kicks off at noon in Bradenton and Palmetto and goes all day long. So pick a stage and settle in or go show-hopping and create your own lineup.
Bradenton Riverwalk Pavillion Stage
Noon — Couch Music Foundation Education Students;
1 p.m. — Penny Fountain;
1:45 p.m. — Trevor Bystrom Band;
2:45 p.m. — “Tribute to Abba” by Shaman Band
4 p.m. — Under the Moon and Friends;
4:30 p.m. — Sam Woolf;
5:15 p.m. — We the Kings.
Palmetto Main Stage
Noon — Couch Music Foundation Education Students;
1 p.m. — 301 Travelers;
2 p.m. — Matt Walden;
3 p.m. — Brandi Sparks;
4 p.m. — “Tribute to George Strait” by Andy Pursell Band;
5:15 p.m. — Andy Pursell Band.
If you plan to spend all day at the festival, it’s best to know the lay of the land.
Good news: You are allowed to bring your own coolers.
Bad news: You are not allowed to bring your own alcohol, but there will be a beer garden near the Palmetto main stage. Law enforcement may check coolers.
You can bring your own food to the event, but there will be lots of tasty offerings on site.
Pets are also OK, but they should be well-behaved and leashed.
And how about the weather? At the moment, this Saturday is forecast to be pleasant, with highs in the 70s, lows in the 60s and only a small chance of rain. However it is Florida, so having some sunscreen and a poncho on hand is never a bad idea.
Where to park
There’s lots of free parking throughout downtown Bradenton and Palmetto.
Some good bets in Bradenton are the Riverwalk parking lot off of Third Avenue West (east of Manatee Performing Arts Center) and the lot off of Riverfront Boulevard (by Mattison’s City Grille).
Check the City of Bradenton’s website for more public parking locations.
In Palmetto, look for parking on Riverside Drive.
Also keep in mind that the Green Bridge will be closed from 4 a.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday, so you will have to use the DeSoto Bridge if you plan on traveling back and forth.
Where to party
There are several Regatta celebrations happening around Bradenton this weekend.
A few highlights:
Meet the drivers at Mattison’s
Mattison’s City Grille on Bradenton Riverwalk will host a pre-Regatta party on Friday night where guests can meet powerboat drivers and crews participating in the big day. The boats will be there too, and local bands will perform.
Details: 6 p.m. Friday. Mattison’s City Grille, 101 Riverfront Blvd., Bradenton. mattisons.com.
Regatta day drinks and dining at Pier 22
For those who want some suds on the Bradenton side of the river, Pier 22 is hosting a beer garden on Regatta day from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The restaurant offers prime views of the water.
On Saturday night, Regatta fans are invited to dine al fresco for the fireworks show and a second performance by flyboarder Kristen Smoyer. This time, she’ll be decked out in neon lights.
Details: 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Pier 22 Restaurant, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton. Reservations recommended. pier22dining.com.