By Kathy L. Collins

Artists and art lovers will gather for the 21st Annual Apollo Beach Manatee Festival of the Arts. This year’s festival is set to run on Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the TECO SouthShore Community Event Center located at 302 Noonan Beach Rd. in Apollo Beach. Admission is $5, which includes parking and free shuttle to the Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center. Children 12 and under are free.

The Apollo Beach Manatee Festival of the Arts is a nationally recognized juried art show. Over $11,000  will be given out in awards to the artists. The Apollo Beach Manatee Festival of the Arts is dedicated to excellence in the arts and selects quality artists each year. As a result, this has become a well-respected juried show.

Festival attendees can meet and interact with almost 100 artists from the local community as well as from across the country. Visitors have the opportunity to meet and interact with artists, to view their work and purchase fine art from the artist who created it.

The Art Festival Committee has worked hard to make this a world-class art show as well as a fun festival. Melanie Morrison, Executive Director of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce said, “This year we will have a professional sound production crew. On Saturday, we will feature the Doby Elementary Little Kids Rock Band followed by local high school acts. In the afternoon, Ladyhawke will perform. On Sunday, we will feature Gene Cannon and other great bands.” Morrison added, “We will be gearing up to move the festival in the direction of an Arts and Music Festival.”

In addition to the fine arts and music, the festival features tasty treats such as crab balls, the  famous roasted corn and strawberry shortcakes from Hydro Harvest Farms. You can enjoy delicious mullet from the Mullet Shack of Ruskin and Ole Kentucky Kettlecorn. Quench your thirst with fresh squeezed lemonade, Italian Ice and Kona Ice.

This year’s t-shirt art was designed by Diana Gayner and features the popular manatee lazily swimming in its natural habitat.

For more information, please visit or call 645-1366.


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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.