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Manatee Festival to feature talent, food & fun

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image Ronald Deels is the creator of this beautiful manatee painting in oils. It is one of dozens that can be seen at the Manatee Festival this coming weekend.

Singles, couples and whole families can find something fun to do for the whole day at the 19th Annual Manatee Festival of the Arts in Apollo Beach.


APOLLO BEACH - Singles, couples and whole families can find something fun to do for the whole day at the 19th Annual Manatee Festival of the Arts in Apollo Beach.

Scheduled for March 12 and 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Tampa Electric Community Events Center just off Big Bend Road West (past the Manatee Viewing Center) the festival promises to have something to occupy every age group from toddlers to senior citizens and everyone in between.

Major sponsors Mosaic (phosphate), Tampa Electric Company, The Tampa Tribune, and J.J. Taylor Distributing have provided many perks to help offset costs for the Apollo Beach Chamber of Commerce, whose members are the main sponsor of the event.

“This is more than a fundraiser now,” said the chamber’s long-time Executive Director Joanne Gadek. “We’re hoping now to attract sponsors who can provide scholarships so some of our local youth can go into higher education in some form of the arts.”

For several years, South County has been home to several festivals and events featuring the arts, and now hosts events of some kind year round. But the Manatee Arts Festival has been a staple for juried art competitions featuring people from all over the world.

Entries in competitions in all forms of visual arts; from sculpture and pottery to oils and glasswork will be on display for the public before judging and afterward.

Besides art, two other big draws will be the culinary competitions (which after all, is also an art!) and the Children’s Creativity Center where kids will get to learn from professional artists and take home what they create.

The Culinary Arts Competition will be sponsored by Mosaic. East Bay and Riverview high school students in the culinary arts, as well as those at the South County Career Center, will compete for a First Prize of $500; Second, $300 and Third of $200. All they have been told is that their main ingredient will be chicken. They will also all be given the same three ingredients (to be kept secret until that day) that they must use. They will be allowed to add whatever else they wish so they will all come prepared with many things from which to choose.

In the span of only one hour, the three teams must develop, prepare, and cook a dish that will be judged. But that’s not all that will be judged. Their carving skills with knives (including safety) will be judged as they cut up their chicken and ingredients.

This will begin at 11 a.m. with judging and awards at 1:30 p.m.

All the while these events and shows are taking place, there will be continuous entertainment ranging from Sax Appeal to Jazzercise and a Music Showcase of local students. “Charlie” (billed as the next Justin Bieber- today’s favorite of tweens and young teens) will perform at precisely 4 p.m.

Food from Tampa’s Hard Rock Casino and Ruth Chris Steakhouse will also be available for a price. However, many samples from local vendors will be free of charge as well as their original fare dinners at a cost.

Admission is $5 for adults and children 10 and under (accompanied by an adult) are free.

Call the chamber for more details at (813) 645-1366.

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