Sarasota County Fair

The 81st annual Sarasota County Fair will take place from March 17th to the 26th. There is always plenty of entertainment at the county fair including rides, crafts, a science fair, livestock and horticulture displays, shows and performances, contests, a live auction and more.

Activities

This family friendly event includes rides and activities for all ages. This year, there will be sea lions, a bear show, a hypnotist, racing pigs and much more.

Food

There is a variety of favorite fair food options sure to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. If you love fair food, the Sarasota County Fair is the place that will have it all.

General Information

The Sarasota County Fair is located at 3000 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota. Parking is free at Robarts Arena. Proceeds for this event will be donated to the promotion of 4-H and Future Farmers of America groups around the county. You can access the official website here.

The Sarasota County fair is a great activity for the whole family to enjoy. If you’re here on vacation during the dates of this event, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Sarasota Spring Festivals

Spring is a time full of activity with plenty of events for all ages and interests. Here are some options for festivals during your spring vacation.

Sarasota Jazz Festival

The Sarasota Jazz Festival will take place on March 5th – 11th, 2017. The festival is the signature annual event of the Sarasota Jazz Club, one of the biggest and most active jazz clubs in the U.S. The event features free concerts in the park, evening concerts with national and international jazz artists, jazz trolley and pub crawl in downtown Sarasota.

Top musicians of the area will be performing.  

Sarasota Film Festival

2017’s film festival will be the 20th annual event. This year the event takes place on…The mission of this event is to celebrate filmmaking  and develop year-long programs to benefit our community economically, educationally and culturally. This ten day event features symposiums, special events around Sarasota, panels and conversations with leaders in the film industry as well as screenings.

More than 200 films are screened every year at the Sarasota Film Festival with over 250 filmmakers in attendance. Screenings include features, documentaries, shorts and kid-friendly films. You can purchase tickets online, by phone or at the box office at the lobby of the Regal Hollywood 20 Theater (1993 Main St. Sarasota).

Folk Music Festival?

This year the Folk Music Festival will take place on March…2017 in Oscar Scherer Park in Osprey. The gates open both days at 9:30 am. Three stages will run all day from 10 am to 10 pm Saturday and 10 am to 5 pm Sunday. A jam tent will be set up for performances by aspiring musicians and workshop tent where guests can get tips from the artists. The headliner artist will perform Saturday in the large tent. There will be a children’s area with workshops and other fun activities next to the playground and Family Stage. There will also be folk life exhibits and crafts, art and food for sale at the event.

Seasonal Activities Guide

Sarasota hosts many annual activities that residents and visitors anticipate. Whatever the season, there is always something to do in Sarasota. Here are just some of Sarasota’s favorite annual events:

Sarasota Exotic Car Fest

Every year, exotic cars are displayed in downtown Sarasota. Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, Lamborghinis, Bentleys, Alfa Romeos and more are on display. This event typically takes place on a weekend in late February. The weekend also includes an opportunity to drive around in a sports car during Road Rally and enjoy a meal at the Closing Brunch. As the date approaches, tickets for the Sarasota Exotic Car Fest will become available online.

Siesta Fiesta

Siesta Fiesta is an annual open street fair featuring Sarasota’s arts and crafts vendors, merchants, food stands and live musicians. The weather is usually wonderful for the street fair; warm and sunny with a nice breeze blowing from the ocean. This free outdoor event in late April showcases some of the best parts of Sarasota’s culture; just down the street from the Inn on Siesta Key.

Savor Sarasota

Entrepreneurs and chefs from all over the world come to Sarasota, sharing their culture and cuisine. Savor Sarasota is an annual event where, with the purchase of tickets, you can eat meals from these authentic chefs and their restaurants. Savor Sarasota takes place every year, typically in June. Through the purchase of a $15 lunch and/or $29 dinner ticket, you can experience three-course meals from Sarasota’s award-winning eateries.

Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix

The Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix Festival takes place from late June into early July, with a multitude of events and activities. The two official race days occur in July. The annual Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix brings boat racers and enthusiasts together for a spectacular summer experience.

Fourth of July

Every year the Siesta Key Community hosts an official fireworks display on the north end of Siesta Key Beach. This is a free event, however, there is a VIP party at 5 pm for anyone who wishes to purchase a ticket. Fireworks start around 9:15 pm and run for 25 minutes. Make sure to come early to get a good viewing spot.

Chalk Festival

The Chalk Festival is one of Sarasota’s most anticipated annual events; the first and only internationally acclaimed festival in Sarasota County. Every November, artists decorate the pavement with their creations using chalk as their medium. From traditional and 3D chalk paintings to performing artists such as mimes, dancers, magicians and theatrical artists, there is much to see at the Chalk Festival.

Holiday Night of Lights

Taking place in early December, the Annual Holiday Night of Lights on St. Armand’s Circle is a great family friendly event to kick off the holiday season. The night begins with a Christmas carol sing-a-long, followed by a lighted parade highlighted by Santa on his sleigh. Lastly, the evening ends with a tree-lighting ceremony. This spirited event is fun for all age groups.

Whenever you vacation in Sarasota, there is always something to do here. If the time of your stay happen to coincide with the dates of one of these events, we encourage you to give them a try. The residents of Sarasota are eager to share their most beloved traditions with you during your stay.

Performing Arts in Sarasota

Sarasota is home to many talented people. Orchestra, circus, dance and opera are a few of the many arts that have shaped Sarasota into the city it is today. If you enjoy the performing arts, you may want to visit these locations during your vacation.

The Players Centre for Performing Arts

The Players Centre for Performing Arts features both new and professional local actors. The community theater is dedicated to presenting productions of mainstage classics.

Van Wezel

Widely recognized by its unique purple color, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall hosts scores of plays and performances throughout the year. These performances include: Broadway musicals, performers, comedians, orchestras, classic, modern and ethnic dance, as well as local performance groups: the Sarasota Orchestra, Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Concert Association and the Ringling Library Town Hall Lecture Series.

vanwezel1
Photo Credit: iTravelopedia

Asolo Repertory Theatre

The Asolo Repertory Theatre is a professional theater in Sarasota that stages up to fifteen productions per season. Home to more than 100 talented artists, this theater is the largest professional not-for-profit theater in the U.S. south of Atlanta.

Sarasota Opera House

This opera house originally opened in April, 1926 as a theatre. The beautiful and historic performance space was restored in 2008. The Sarasota Opera House places importance on education through performance. There are a variety of performances offered, for both the novice and seasoned opera-goer.

Sarasota Opera's production of Jerusalem
Photo Credit: Classical Voice North America

The Circus Arts Conservatory Sarasota

John Ringling brought his circus to Sarasota in the late 1920s. This circus then became an important part of Sarasota’s identity as a community. The Sarasota Circus stages professional performances throughout the year. 80% of ticket revenue for the circus goes to outreach programs in Sarasota.

circussarasota
Photo Credit: Ticket Sarasota

Holiday Events in Sarasota

Do you enjoy viewing lighted displays, drinking hot chocolate and singing carols? Then you won’t want to miss Sarasota during the holiday season. Here a just a few of the festive events that take place during December:

The 13th Annual Lights in Bloom at Selby Gardens

Selby Gardens will host their annual “Lights in Bloom” event, December 16th to December 30th, 2016 from 6 pm to 9 pm. Half a million lights will illuminate the gardens with displays at some of the garden’s most iconic locations. There will be traditional holiday music, photo opportunities and food and drink available from Michael’s On East.  Please note:  the event does not occur on December 24th and 25th.

lightsinbloom
Photo Credit: YourObserver.com

A Taste of Chanukah at Sarasota Fairgrounds

Celebrate Chanukah in Sarasota on December 26th from 4 pm to 6 pm at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. Bands, kosher food, inflatables, a petting zoo, carnival games, ice menorah and a giant dreidel are just some of the things to look forward to at the 6th annual Taste of Chanukah.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker

The classic Nutcracker Ballet, performed by the The Moscow Ballet, will run on December 29th, 2016 at the Van Wezel. With a 60-foot growing Christmas tree; hand-made costumes and stunning, hand-painted sets designed by an Academy Award nominee, Sarasota audiences are sure to be delighted. Tickets are available online.

Holiday Boat Parade?

The Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade is a dazzling light show on water. Boats of every size are decked out in creative displays of holiday fun. If you are planning to attend the parade, please keep in mind that the best locations for viewing are Marina Jack, City Island and Centennial Park.

SPARADE1102
Photo Credit: Ticket Sarasota

Sailor Circus Holiday Spectacular

The Sailor Circus Holiday Spectacular runs from December 26 to December 29th, with eight shows in all. The thrilling performances feature students ages 8-18. Don’t miss the country’s oldest running youth circus as they delight audiences of all ages.

Holiday Nights at the Ca’ d’Zan

Situated on the same property as the Ringling Museum, Holiday Nights at the Ca’ d’Zan is free with museum admission. Festive fireplace mantels, decorative doors and a brilliantly lit 10 ft tree give the mansion a holiday make-over that will fill visitors with the holiday spirit.

holidaynightsPhoto Credit: The Ringling

21st Annual Sarasota Holiday Parade

The parade is one of Sarasota’s most anticipated events and will be held on Saturday, December 3rd. Illuminated floats, marching bands, musical performances and the arrival of Santa Claus are just a few of of the highlights as the parade moves down Main Street in front of a cheering crowd. One of the largest and best known holiday parades along the Sun Coast.

Holiday Night of Lights on St. Armand’s Circle

Now in its 38th year, the Holiday Night of Lights on St. Armand’s Circle is a holiday tradition. The festivities includes caroling, photo opportunities with Santa, musical performances and a tree-lighting ceremony. The event takes place on December 2nd from 5:30 pm to 9 pm.

Pineapple Drop

The Pineapple Drop is a Sarasota New Year’s Eve tradition, signifying the tail-end of the holiday season and the prospects of a new year. If you’ll be staying at the Inn On Siesta Key on December 31st, ring in 2017 with us in downtown Sarasota. It’s a great way to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

pineappledrop
Photo Credit: discoversiestakey.info

This holiday season is jam packed with festive events. Sarasota has plenty to do and see this holiday season. We hope that you will celebrate the holidays with us this year. Happy holidays from your friends at the Inn on Siesta Key!

 

 

November Activities

November is a time of tradition. If you’re staying with us this November, you have the opportunity to experience some of Sarasota’s favorite traditions. The annual Sarasota Medieval Fair and Siesta Key Sand Sculpting Festival are two well-attended events that occur in November each year.

Sarasota Medieval Fair

The Sarasota Medieval Fair takes place this year on November 5th-6th, 12th-13th, and 19th-20th, 2016 and is open from 10am-5:30pm. There will be activities for all ages at the fair. Every weekend has a different set of events. Live music, acting and comedic performances, aerial shows, the artisan marketplace and jousting are just a few things to look forward to this November. Tickets are available online. 


Photo Credit: Sarasota Medieval Fair

medieval2
Photo Credit: Sarasota Medieval Fair

Siesta Key Sand Sculpting Festival

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival will be held this year from November 11th-15th, 2016. Professional sculptors, residents and visitors come to Sarasota each year in order to participate in this event. The sculptors turn Siesta Beach into an art gallery. Visitors are welcome to watch the sculpture building process on Friday and Saturday. The competition section of this event ends Sunday at noon, but the sculptures will remain open for viewing through Tuesday, the 15th. 

sandsculpture1
1st place Sculpture 2015
Photo Credit: Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival
sandsculpture2
Photo Credit: Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival

Events like the Sarasota Medieval Fair and the Siesta Key Sand Sculpting Festival are great opportunities to experience some of the energy and culture of Sarasota, Florida. We hope that you’ll take advantage of these events during your stay with us this November.

October Activities

There are plenty of activities to keep you busy here in Sarasota this October. Whether you’re looking for a family fun afternoon, want to explore German culture or just want to be spooked, our city has an abundance of activities for your stay. October in Sarasota is anything but uneventful. Check out some of these fun events this fall:

Pumpkin Festivals

The Sarasota Pumpkin Festival and Fruitville Grove Pumpkin Festival are two popular annual pumpkin festivals in Sarasota. 

The 8th annual Sarasota Pumpkin Festival takes place this year October 28th, 29th and 30th, 2016. The festival is open from 12pm – 10pm on Friday and Saturday and 12pm – 8pm on Sunday at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch. There will be performances, a pumpkin patch, maze, pie eating contests, an amusement area with rides, games, petting zoo, pony rides, food and drink stands, live bands and more. Information on ticket pricing is available online.

The Fruitville Grove Pumpkin Festival will be having their 28th annual family-friendly event this year. The festival will take place every weekend in October. There will be hayrides, festival food, BBQ, kettle corn, pie, live music, moon bounce, face painting, pumpkin painting, rock wall and a bungee jump.

Oktoberfests

Celebrate German culture and taste some German craft beer with Sarasota’s Oktoberfests. Here are a few options for events to attend:

WOBtoberfest- This is World of Beer’s biggest annual event of the year. The event will include craft beer, German food and live music. There will be an AC/DC tribute band at “WOBtoberfest Day 1 w/ Highway to Hell” and there will be a Pearl Jam tribute band at “WOBtoberfest Day 2 w/ Pearl Jamz”. This two-day event will take place on October 21st at 4pm and October 22nd, 2016 in Bradenton at 3pm.

Sip the Sunshine Craft Beer Festival- This festival will take place on Saturday October 29th, 2016 starting at 12pm for VIP ticket holders and 1pm for regular ticket holders and lasts until 9pm. Tickets range from $35-$100 and are available online. The event exclusively features Florida craft breweries and a concert event at Sundown Session, where food and drinks will be available.

Spooky Activities

Haunted Trails at Oscar Scherer Park- This year will be the 4th Annual Haunted Trails at Oscar Scherer Park. This family-friendly event takes place on Friday October 21st and Saturday October 22nd, 2016 from 8-10pm. There is a scary haunted trail for those looking to be spooked and a not-so-scary trail for those who don’t want to be scared. There will also be kids activities, costume contests and more. Tickets are available online.

Boofest on Main Street at Lakewood Ranch- Boofest will take place on Friday October 28th, 2016 from 6pm to 9pm. The event is free and open to the public. This year’s Boofest will be Wizard of Oz themed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the event. There will be plenty of activities this year to enjoy: haunted trolley rides with ghost stories, costume contest, trick-or-treating, inflatable dark maze, haunted trail, kids play zone, live DJ, merchant window painting contest, wandering Wizard of Oz characters, photo booth, balloon artist and face painting.

Year-Round Events

Throughout the year there are many recurring events in Sarasota that feature live music, food and culture of the area. If you’re looking for something to do for an evening, Sarasota has several options for you to choose from:

Ringling Underground

The Ringling Museum hosts Ringling Underground on select nights throughout the year. Band schedules are announced on their website. There will be a mix of local and regional live music and art in the courtyard from 8 pm to 11 pm. Some of the upcoming dates are: September 1st, October 6th, November 3rd, 2016, February 2nd, March 2nd and April 6th, 2017.

Music on Main Lakewood Ranch

Music on Main is a free concert series and block party hosted on the first Friday of every month. This event takes place on Main Street on Lakewood Ranch from 6 pm to 9 pm. There will be food vendors, beer trucks, sponsor booths and kid-friendly rides and activities.

Live from Downtown its Friday Nights

Live from Downtown occurs every Friday night in downtown Sarasota from 6 pm to 9 pm. There will be live street performances: live music, dancing and more. Many businesses will be open extended hours so visitors can continue shopping during the event. Admission is free.

Art Walks on Palm Avenue

Art Walks on Palm Avenue happen every first Friday of the month from 6 pm to 9 pm. Local galleries will be open for the public to admire and talk with the artists. There will also be dining, antiques, specialty shops, refreshments and live performances.

Seasonal Foods in Sarasota

Fall is fast approaching. While the leaves may not change in Florida and the temperature will probably still be in the mid to upper 80s, the autumn spirit remains plentiful here in Sarasota. One of our favorite ways to celebrate the fall season is through food. Check out these restaurants that serve this season’s harvest foods in Sarasota.

Baked Goods

Word of Mouth restaurant serves both breakfast and lunch. There is a variety of baked goods to choose from at Word of Mouth that will remind you of the comforts of the season: muffins, scones, croissants, biscuits and cinnamon rolls. This restaurant also has made-to-order oatmeal (with the option to add brown sugar, raisins, fruit or nuts), turkey sandwiches, turkey burgers and more fall comfort foods on their menu.

Pastas and Soups

Oh Mamma Mia and La Scarpetta are two Italian restaurants in the area with pumpkin pasta dishes on the menu this season. Oh Mamma Mia serves Tortelloni di Zucca al Burro, an egg noodle pasta dish filled with roasted pumpkin – served in butter and sage sauce. The menu at La Scarpetta includes pumpkin soup and ravioli dishes. Look out for daily specials at these restaurants that feature more vegetables and spices of the season.

Coffee and Teas

The Clever Cup Coffee Shop has some of the area’s best coffees and teas. Winning “Best New Coffee Shop, 2016” in the Sarasota Magazine, this is a cafe that many tourists visit during their stay. Their chai lattes may be just the right thing to hit the spot on an autumn afternoon. 

Cream and Baked Pies

Of course, it isn’t autumn without pie. Yoder’s Restaurant and Island Gluten-Free Bakery serve some very tasty desserts. These bakeries have all kinds of fall-ish treats on the menu. Yoder’s serves chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, pumpkin and other cream pies, and caramel custard, chocolate pecan, dutch apple crumb, pumpkin and other baked pies. Island Gluten-Free Bakery serves gluten-free apple cinnamon, cranberry orange walnut and pumpkin muffins, cinnamon rolls, apple pie and more.

Caramel Treats

If you have a sweet tooth, Kilwin’s on St. Armand’s is another must-visit shop this season. In addition to chocolate, toffee and ice cream, Kilwin’s offers a variety of desserts, like candy apples dipped in homemade caramel.

Hay rides and pumpkin carving contests aren’t the only way to get into the autumn mood. Exploring Sarasota’s restaurants and trying these seasonal foods are great ways to get excited for the fall season. From pie to apple cider, there are plenty of autumn treats to be enjoyed in Sarasota.

Siesta Key Renovations

Siesta Key has a new makeover. Siesta Key has been recently renovated and reconditioned, and it looks and functions better than ever.

Siesta Beach Renovation

Siesta Key Beach just celebrated the completion of a two-year project to improve its facilities. This $21.5 million project was funded through the Sarasota County penny sales tax.

Construction expanded and renovated the parking lot, improved pedestrian access to and from Beach Road, modernized and expanded the restrooms, upgraded and elevated the concession area, relocated several buildings and restored the historic pavilion. A new sand castle inspired playground sits by the entrance of the beach and replanted coconut palms and other nonnative vegetation now decorate the pavilion area.

The new pavilion includes a sun deck, with picnic benches where visitors can enjoy a great view over Siesta Beach. The sun deck is already known to be an ideal spot to watch the beautiful Siesta Key sunset.

The white and blue colors used in the renovation are both a functional and visually pleasing decision. The white sidewalks were specially designed to keep bare feet cool and protected from the Florida heat and the white and blue buildings mimic the white of the sand and the blue of the waters on the beach, which were major inspirations to the builders.

All these renovations have made Siesta Key Beach all the more beautiful and serviceable for its visitors.

pavilionPhoto Credit: The Herald Tribune

playgroundPhoto Credit: Charity, addykay.blogspot.com

Turtle Beach Renourishment

Sarasota county has also recently completed its beach restoration project. This project concentrated on Turtle Beach, which is situated in the southern region of Siesta Key. The goal of this project was to add at least 690,000 cubic yards of sand and 1.1 acres of dune vegetation to protect the beach from future erosion.

Beach renourishment, like in this project, involves pumping sand from the ocean floor and dumping it onto a specific section of beach in order to slow the process of erosion and protect homes and businesses at the coastline.

The project ended before sea turtle season, as planned. However, only about a month after the conclusion of the renourishment project, a tropical storm swept through the area. County officials held their breath as they went to assess the damage to the newly restored beach. 

Luckily, after the storm moved on, the county’s environmental staff found the two mile stretch of the renourished beach intact. So, the conclusion of the project was deemed a success. There was an official celebration on Turtle Beach mid June 2016.

turtlebeachPhoto Credit: Richard Clapp, Flickr

In addition to the success of the Siesta Beach renovation and Turtle Beach renourishment, we at the Inn on Siesta Key celebrate your stay! When you visit Siesta Key make sure to spend some time on our newly updated beaches. Maybe it’s just us, but we think that the Key looks better than ever. Come see for yourself!