Here’s some last minute information you need to know for the Bradenton Area River Regatta

If you are thinking about bringing a drone to the fifth annual Bradenton Area River Regatta on Saturday, you won’t be going home with it.

For safety and security reasons, Drone Hunters — a company that recently helped protect Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta — will be on hand for the regatta to destroy any drones that take flight during the festivities.

With several helicopters being in the air throughout the event, between marine life watchers and the helicopter tours, event organizer Mike Fetchko said it was a necessary precaution.

“In today’s day and age where you see international airports being shut down because of drones, you just never know,” Fetchko said. “We certainly don’t expect any trouble, but you never know. And we did have an incident last year with a drone, which public safety took care of quickly and was innocent. People just need to know this company specializes in taking drones out of the air.”

Green Bridge will be closed

Fetchko said the biggest question he keeps getting asked is about the Green Bridge closure and from where people can watch the fireworks and boat races.

“People hear the bridge is closed and assume it’s closed to them,” Fetchko said. “The bridge is closed specifically for spectators to be there to watch all the water events and fireworks. Another big question I get is how will people get back and forth and we’ll have the free trolleys again making loops between Bradenton and Palmetto beginning at 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.”

New features this year include doubling of the number of boat races.

Formula 2 driver Jeff Reno currently hails from Okeechobee, but is a Bradenton native. He and his father were both born at Manatee Memorial Hospital, which is sponsoring the Zambelli International Fireworks show at dusk.

“This is my home town,” Reno said. “That’s why I really love this race and really want to win it.”

Reno came in second last year and is determined to claim victory on his hometown course.

Also new this year will be the semi-submersible Seabreachers, which are essentially large, powerful jet-skis that look like sharks or dolphins with a submarine style hull capable of diving deep and breaking the water “like a killer whale jumping out of the Manatee River,” Fetchko said.

Literally on top of all that action will be yet another show from world champion flyboarder Kristin Smoyer daring you to take in all of the visual action at once. Smoyer will entertain between the racing heats, which begin at 10 a.m. with qualifying heats and run throughout the day until the championship run at 4:30 p.m.

One slight change to the entertainment lineup is the cancellation of the Billy Rice Band ‘s tribute to George Strait because of a band member falling ill. Headliner Andy Pursell volunteered to do the tribute show beginning at 4 p.m. as scheduled and then take the stage for his show in Palmetto at 5:15 p.m.

Bradenton’s own We The Kings will take the stage to headline the Bradenton show on Riverwalk, also at 5:15 p.m.

“We The Kings told me they will be pulling out all the stops for their hometown show,” Fetchko said. “They are so pumped to play their hometown crowd. I would only suggest that whichever show you are going to see, get there early. We are not encouraging people to bring their own lawn chairs, however, as there will be plenty of picnic tables set up and we want everyone to be able to see the shows.”

Lawn chairs aren’t being prohibited, however, but organizers ask that everyone be aware of blocking views.

The event has morphed into the area’s premier event since its inaugural show in 2014 and continues to bring an estimated 100,000 spectators throughout the day. A bonus of the event, according to officials, is the way Bradenton and Palmetto have had to work together to make it a success.

“It’s brought both cities a lot closer,” said Palmetto Commissioner Jonathan Davis.

For a full schedule, visit bradentonarearegatta.com.

Here are some highlights:

Bradenton events:

  • 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, and throughout the day on the river.

Palmetto events:

  • 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:

  • 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.

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.

Related stories from Bradenton Herald

Breaking News/Real Time Reporter Mark Young began his career in 1996 and has been with the Bradenton Herald since 2014. He has won more than a dozen awards over the years, including the coveted Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting from the Florida Press Club and for beat reporting from the Society for Professional Journalists to name a few. His reporting experience is as diverse as the communities he covers.
Support my work with a digital subscription