WORDS: Jessica Schubick
Are you ready for the Heintz & Becker DeSoto Seafood Festival? The Seafood Festival has been produced in Manatee County by the Hernando DeSoto Historical Society for more than 35 years and has evolved to become one of the largest festivals in the area!
Getting its start as “Ethnic Nights” featuring cuisine from different countries, the event then transformed into “River Fest” on downtown Bradenton’s “Sandlot” at Rossi Waterfront Park. After decades of fine-tuning, the DeSoto Seafood Festival has become a regional “must-do” comprised of food, music, arts & crafts, and family fun taking place in Sutton Park in Palmetto.
Rob Bell, Chairman of the DeSoto Seafood Festival, says this history is part of what makes the event so popular. “We were one of the original festivals in Manatee County. The Seafood Festival has been around so long, people know who we are and that they can expect a fun and exciting event each year.” He added that the Festival is known for bringing in entertaining national headlining acts, great arts vendors, and delicious food. It’s also a FREE event, so everyone is welcomed to enjoy the performances and activities.
Mr. Bell applauded the Festival’s biggest sponsor, Heintz & Becker law office, saying: “We send a special thank you to Steven Heintz & David Becker for their support through the years.” He also thanked the event’s other sponsors, including the City of Palmetto and Palmetto CRA.
Taking place April 5th-7th, this year’s Seafood Festival is sure to please children and adults, alike. As always, there will be national and local food vendors, unique arts & crafts vendors, and a Kids’ Zone sponsored by the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County. Families can expect bounce houses and inflatables, face painting, and kids’ crafts. The DeSoto Historical Society’s Queen’s Court will be introduced to the public for the first time at the Festival on Saturday.
Among this year’s performers, American country music artist Craig Morgan is the Saturday night headliner. Morgan has charted seventeen times on the Billboard country charts and is sure to be a huge hit with the crowds. As a U.S. Army veteran, Morgan is a perfect fit for this year’s Seafood Festival, which is honoring emergency responders and the military with perks including drink specials. Mr. Bell also noted that this year’s Festival will utilize the Pavilion in Sutton Park, allowing crowds to benefit from the comfort of the grassy areas in the park while enjoying the entertainment.
The DeSoto Seafood Festival kicks-off the DeSoto Historical Society’s Heritage Festival events in April – including the DeSoto Bottle Boat Regatta on April 13th, the DeSoto Children’s Parade on April 19th, the DeSoto Landing on April 20th, the Easter Sunrise Service on April 21st, the DeSoto Musical & Fashion Show on April 23rd, the Queen Selection Banquet on April 24th, the Dignitary Reception on April 25th, the DeSoto Ball on April 26th, and culminating in the DeSoto Grand Parade on April 27th. (Visit www.desotohq.com/2019-desoto-events for more information.)
Proceeds generated from the Heintz & Becker DeSoto Seafood Festival benefit the Conquistador Historical Foundation. As the charitable arm of the Hernando DeSoto Historical Society, the Conquistador Historical Foundation distributes funding to other community charities, provides educational programs, and funds collegiate scholarships.
Friday, April 5th from 5 pm – 10 pm
Saturday, April 6th from 11 am – 10 pm
Sunday, April 7th from Noon – 6 pm
Sutton Park (1036 6th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221)
FREE Admission all weekend long! Cash is required to purchase food & drink tickets. ATM’s are conveniently located at the Festival.
Some arts & crafts vendors accept credit cards, but be sure to bring plenty of cash.
Chairs are permitted in designated areas only; no pets; no coolers.