As a destination that prides itself on maintaining its connection to the past, the Bradenton area is coming up on one of the most important times of the year, during which we celebrate Manatee County’s history and the many landmarks, activities and events that make our home one for the (history) books.
From March 1-31, the 39th annual Heritage Days celebration returns. All month long, historical sites and organizations will provide opportunities for residents and visitors to experience the past.
Re-enactments, special exhibits, lectures, classes, walking tours, open houses and family programming will take center stage at historic sites, which provide year-round opportunities to travel back in time.
Here are a few highlights:
▪ Twelve months a year, our historical parks provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn about the history of the Bradenton area.
At the Manatee Village Historical Park, history buffs can visit a collection of restored buildings from the area’s settlement history, including the 1903 Wiggins General Store, the Settlers House constructed in 1912, a “Cracker Gothic” pioneer farmhouse, a restored church, farmhouse, steam engine and more.
As part of Heritage Days, on March 9-10, the Manatee Village Historical Park will host guided walking tours focusing on the general history of the Village of Manatee and celebrating Women’s History Month with insights into the impact of women in Manatee County and on historic preservation, particularly their roles in saving the buildings now located at Manatee Village.
▪ At Palmetto Historical Park, year-round visitors can tour the Carnegie Library built in 1914, visit the 1880 Post Office, write on slates in the 1930s Schoolhouse and try on pioneer clothing in the Cottage Museum built in 1910.
They also can visit the Manatee County Agricultural Museum to check out exhibits focused on Manatee County’s primary commodities, including livestock, vegetables, citrus, horticulture and commercial fishing. On March 10, the park and museum will host the Palmetto Heritage Festival. Heritage Station Post Office will be open for business and a special one-day cancellation will be affixed to all outgoing mail. Activities include entertainment, food vendor, crafts and children’s activities.
▪ The DeSoto National Memorial commemorates the 1539 landing of Hernando de Soto and, throughout the year, guests can visit to learn about the De Soto Expedition and Florida’s Native Americans.
As part of Heritage Days, visitors can experience 500 years of Florida history on March 25-26 when more than 30 re-enactors from around the state portray men and women from Florida’s extensive history.
▪ The Gamble Plantation Historic State Park – home to the historic Gamble Mansion, the last standing antebellum plantation house in South Florida – will host its annual Open House on March 4.
Visitors are invited to travel back to the Old South through lifestyle demonstrations of that time period. The ladies of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will be wearing costumes reminiscent of the era of the 1840s through 1870s to add to the authenticity.
▪ The historic Fishing Village of Cortez is home to the Florida Maritime Museum, which is always the perfect spot to learn more about the history and development of boat building and the traditional life of Florida’s fishing industry.
The Museum’s Folk School offers folk-related programs designed to provide opportunities for guests to take part in the activities of our settlers and ancestors, including traditional crafts such as quilting and wood crafting, as well as activities with direct ties to the fishing and maritime heritage ingrained in our destination.
During Heritage Days, the school will offer classes in Painting with a Fish (March 14), Memoir Writing (March 21), Attracting Native Pollinators (March 22) and Net Mending (March 24).
There is plenty more where that came from. Most Heritage Days events are free, though some require a reservation or admission fee.
For more information about the Manatee Heritage Days, call 941-741-4070.
In addition, through March 20, the Powel Crosley Estate and Simply Gourmet Caterers are hosting Royal Tea, inspired by the annual tea hosted by the Royal Family in England.
Rarely open to the public, the mansion (built in 1929) is on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as one of the county’s most picturesque and historic places for meetings, weddings and other events.
For more information, visit PowelCrosleyEstate.com.
Join us this March and find countless ways to immerse yourself in the rich history of the Bradenton area during the remaining 11 months of the year. I hope to see you celebrating all that it has to offer.