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A Taste of Manatee to return to Bradenton’s Riverwalk in November

People pack the walkways at a past Taste of Manatee festival Saturday at Bradenton’s Riverwalk.
People pack the walkways at a past Taste of Manatee festival Saturday at Bradenton’s Riverwalk. Herald file photo

A Taste of Manatee is back.

The venerable and popular celebration of local food had been around for nearly 30 years before its organizers, the Rotary Club of West Bradenton, decided to cancel the 2016 event.

The club has announced that it’s back on for 2017. It’ll be back to a one-day event this year, from 11 am. until 8 p.m. on Nov. 4, and it will return to its home on the Bradenton Riverwalk.

There aren’t many details available other than that, and organizers of this year’s event haven’t yet responded to messages.

It’ll be back to a one-day event, from 11 am. until 8 p.m. on Nov. 4, and it will return to its home on the Bradenton Riverwalk.

It’s reasonable to assume that this year’s event will follow the successful formula for years past, with free admission, live music, arts and crafts for kids, and lots of food from local eateries. In past years, the restaurants have offered small plates of food for about $4.

At its peak in 2012, A Taste of Manatee drew about 15,000 visitors over two days, and raised about $25,000 for charities, chairperson Tony Gallo said in a past Herald story.

A move to Sutton Park in Palmetto didn’t prove successful, at least economically, and the amount of money the Rotary raised dipped significantly. Club officials cited the plethora of other food-and-music festivals in the area as contributing to the decline in the fortunes of A Taste of Manatee. Back in the ’80s, it had been one of the few festivals in the county.

“Nowadays, there is something going on every weekend having to do with food and entertainment,” said Gallo, the chairman of the planned 2017 event. “But back then, we were the first ones that really got it all started.”

At its peak in 2012, A Taste of Manatee drew about 15,000 visitors over two days, and raised about $25,000 for charities.

Declining membership in the Rotary Club of West Bradenton had also left the event with a small volunteer force, Gallo said last year.

There was talk of transforming A Taste of Manatee into a different type of festival and staging it in the spring at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, but organizers have opted to return to a November event on the Riverwalk.

You can keep an eye on tasteofmanatee.com for more details as they become available.

Marty Clear: 941-708-7919, @martinclear

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