Manatee Arts Festival brings color, music to E.G. Simmons Park

Published on: March 19, 2015

Mitch Traphagen photos.

Mitch Traphagen photos.

In Florida, they don’t call it Chamber of Commerce weather for nothing — at least in the case of the Manatee Festival of the Arts. The SouthShore Chamber managed to dial up a picture-perfect Florida weekend for the event, its 23rd running, but the first time held at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin.

By early on Saturday, crowds were already filling in the grassy aisles between the expected 100 art, organizational and food vendors. Organizers also created a stage, just set back from the covered pavilion, so visitors could choose to enjoy the food and beverage offerings (from BBQ to seafood and more) either up close to the sound and talent or with a bit of distance. The live entertainment paused only to allow each new act to set up. In addition, there was also a children’s creativity center.
The new venue at the park, which has become the hub for large events in South County, offered numerous trees and welcome shade from the warm winter sun. It is also the home of the popular Ruskin Seafood Festival held in November. For information about upcoming Chamber events visit