Riverwalk's Inaugural Season Opens in a Few Weeks

Grand Opening Celebration, ArtSlam, Inaugural Bradenton Blues Festival and more than 20 events to be hosted on new Riverwalk in Downtown Bradenton this fall. Check out this list of events and mark your calendars now.

As Bradenton’s $6.2 million Riverwalk project nears its grand opening set for  Oct. 18, Realize Bradenton is gearing up for two large festivals – ArtSlam and the inaugural Bradenton Blues Festival.

But they are just two of the more than 20 events. which includes weekly drum circles and yoga. With the exception of the Blues Festival and History Cruise, all events are free to the public.

The Riverwalk is a 1.5 mile-long park that includes a number of features of interest to both tourists and residents: a kayak launch, beach volleyball, fishing pier, rowing venue, first-class skatepark, tidal discovery zone, shaded areas to read and lounge, an interactive splash fountain, and a 19-slip day dock. The Riverwalk offers a gallery of outdoor art with more than 20 pieces that offer interactive sound sculptures, river history, and beauty to match the river setting.

Centrally located in the park is a covered Pavilion and Event Area, which will be the site for both ArtSlam and the Bradenton Blues Festival. 

The Grand Opening Celebration sponsored by C1 Bank on Oct. 18 starts at 4:30 p.m. with refreshments and music. The program starts at 5:15pm followed by a community ribbon cutting of an 800-foot long ribbon made by over 120 groups and people. After the ribbon cutting, the Riverwalk comes alive with art talks, walking tours, and skateboard, volleyball, and tai chi demos.

State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota’s Music Program will enliven the festivities with their Chamber Choir, Jazz Combo, Guitar Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and Brass Choir.

ArtSlam 2012,  a celebration of the arts featuring hundreds of artists, musicians, performers, students, and other creative individuals, will take plance Nov. 10, from noon to 10 p.m. 

“This family-friendly festival features over 20 ‘out of the box’ interactive experiences so both adults and children can be part of the art-making process,” said Johnette Isham, Realize Bradenton’s executive director.

The Bradenton Blues Festival is set for Dec. 1 and features eight nationally-known blues groups — three of which won prestigious 2012 Blues Music Awards.

"This is a great location for an outdoor festival," said Dave Gustafson, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. 

Gustafson said the festival site, overlooking the Manatee River, can accommodate up to 2,000 people.

“It's also the perfect grand finale to the Grand Opening Fall Season to celebrate the completion of the Riverwalk redevelopment," he added. "The Bradenton Blues Festival will definitely attract people from outside the region to our area; this will really be something special."

The 2012 Bradenton Blues Festival gates will open at 10 a.m. on Dec. 1, with music starting at 11 a.m. and continuing throughout the day and into the night featuring award-winning headliners from all over the country. Those artists include Ruthie Foster, Kenny Neal, Dave “Biscuit” Miller, Johnny Sansone, Southern Hospitality, Homemade Jamz, Steve Arvey Horn Band with Henry Lawrence, and Ben Prestage. 

Tickets are $25 and available online at www.bradentonbluesfestival.org.

Grand Opening Season Events for Fall 2012

The Grand Opening Season offers something for everyone.    


Oct. 18, 4:30 p.m. to 7:30PM
Riverwalk Grand Opening

Pavilion & Event Area

Opening celebration includes live music by State College of Florida, skateboarding, volleyball, tai chi, public art talks, and walking tours. Music and refreshments start at 4:30PM with the ceremony at 5:15PM. For info, call 941-840-0013. Presenting Sponsor: C1 Bank


Oct. 19, Dusk (approx. 7 p.m.)
Reels at Rossi Movie

Pavilion & Event Area

Free movie on a 3-story screen is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (PG-13). An American agent fights to expose the real spy without the help of his organization. Bring blankets or lawn chairs. Refreshments for sale. For info, call 941-840-0013. Sponsor: Realize Bradenton


Oct. 20, Noon to 2 p.m.
Riverwalk Fishing College

Mosaic Amphitheater & Fishing Pier

All ages will learn the latest secrets from fishing guides on catching local fish. For info, call 941-747-1998. Sponsor: DeSoto Historical Society

Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Star Talk along Riverwalk

Meet at the Pavilion:  Come join the Bishop Planetarium team of astronomers for a laser guided tour of the night sky. Sit back and enjoy the sunset while watching for planets and stars as they begin to peak through the darkening sky. Learn how you can best prepare yourself for that night’s big midnight show: the Orionids Meteor shower! For more info, call Samantha Sprague 941-746-4131 ex 31. Sponsored by the South Florida Museum & Bishop Planetarium


Oct. 25, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Music in the Park

Pavilion & Family Fun Zone: The Sarasota Pops Orchestra performs a preview of their opening season. Food and beverage available. Bring your blankets and chairs. For info, call 941-840-0013. Sponsor: Realize Bradenton

Oct. 25, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Village of the Arts Sampler

Pavilion & Family Fun Zone: Experience the Village of the Arts and enjoy the Sarasota Pops Orchestra. Sample and purchase jewelry, fashions, paintings, mosaics, food, quilts, and folk art. For info, 941-744-2487. Sponsor: Village of the Arts


Oct. 27, Noon to 12:30 p.m.
Youth Theater

Mosaic Amphitheater: Manatee Players’ Summer Youth Theater Training Program performs musical theater favorites including highlights from Pippin. For info, call 941-748-5875. Sponsor: Manatee Players 

Oct. 27, 1 p.m. to 1:30PM
Pump Boys and the Dinettes

Mosaic Amphitheater: Manatee Players’ perform live musical selections from their upcoming production Pump Boys and the Dinettes. For info, call 941-748-5875. Sponsor: Manatee Players 



Nov. 1, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Music in the Park

Mosaic Amphitheater: Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones perform their newly released CD What’s it Gonna Take. Bring chairs and blankets for a fabulous night of Blues. Food and beverage available. For info, call 941-840-0013. Sponsor: Realize Bradenton

Saturday & Sunday

Nov. 3, 11 a..m to 10 p.m.
Nov. 4, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Taste of Manatee

Pavilion & Family Fun Zone and Mosaic Amphitheater: A two-day celebration featuring great food and entertainment. Sample cuisines from local restaurants while enjoying activities for the entire family. For info, http://www.tasteofmanatee.com  Sponsor: Rotary Club of West Bradenton

Nov. 4, Noon to 4 p.m.
Pioneer Roundup

Tower Plaza: Dive into local history through interactive activities involving boatbuilding, fishing, cattle and agricultural industries. Youth and adults - join the fun of living a postcard! For more information, contact christine.brown@manateeclerk.com or 941-741-4075. Sponsors: Agricultural Museum of Manatee County; The Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez; Manatee County Historical Records Library; Manatee Village Historical Park & Palmetto Historical Museum

Nov. 4, Noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m.
History Cruise

Day Dock: Cruise the Manatee River on the Island Pearl with historian Cathy Slusser and learn about the river’s history and the people who lived along its banks. Reservations recommended by calling 941-780-8010. Tickets are $15. Sponsor: Manatee Village Historical Park


Nov. 8, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Music in the Park

Mosaic Amphitheater: Enjoy a free sunset concert. Food and drink will be available for purchase. Performance by the Jake Castro Band who will compete for a spot this fall on America’s Got Talent. Bring chairs and blankets. Food and beverage available. For info, call 941-840-0013. Sponsor: Realize Bradenton


Nov. 10, Noon to 10 p.m.
ArtSlam at the River

Pavilion & Event Area: In its third year, ArtSlam brings together over 20 interdisciplinary teams of artists, students, and creative individuals to create one-day public art projects. Live music, food, and more.  Fun for the whole family! For info, call 941-840-0013. Sponsor: Realize Bradenton


Nov. 15, 9 a.m. to Noon
Riverwalk Open Air Painting

Starts at the Pavilion: Plein Air painters fan out along the Riverwalk to paint the riverfront scenery. Come observe and purchase a work of art fresh off the easel. For info, call 941-924-0818. Sponsored by Light Chasers.

Nov. 15, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Music in the Park

Mosaic Amphitheater: Bradenton’s very own Have Gun Will Travel will perform their Americana style music at sunset. Bring your chairs and blankets. Food and beverage available for purchase. For info, call 941-840-0013. Sponsor: Realize Bradenton


Nov. 16, Dusk (approx. 7 p.m.)
Reels at Rossi Movie

Pavilion & Event Area: Free movie on a 3-story screen is The Last Waltz (PG) which chronicles The Band’s final concert with Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Joni Mitchell and other legends. Bring blankets or lawn chairs. Refreshments for sale. For info, call 941-840-0013. Sponsor: Realize Bradenton


Nov. 17, 9 a.m. to Noon
Water Works Science Fun

Pavilion and Family Fun Zone: Learners of all ages will have a blast collecting, testing and respecting water in an investigation how its properties benefit plants, animals, even the Earth itself. For info, call Samantha Sprague 941-746-4131, ex 31. Sponsored by the South Florida Museum & Bishop Planetarium


Nov. 30, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The Blues Appetizer Concert

Pavilion and Family Fun Zone: Enjoy a free mini-concert on the big stage with Selwyn Birchwood Band and Kettle of Fish. Preview the festival site for the Bradenton Blues Festival on December 1. Bradenton Blues Festival tickets on sale at this event. Food and beverage are available for purchase. For info, call 941-840-0013. Sponsored by Mojoe Productions with Realize Bradenton



Dec. 1, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Bradenton Blues Festival

Pavilion & Event Area: An annual festival featuring a stellar team of top, nationally touring blues artists. Food, drink, art, and an array of vendors complement the live music to create an awesome experience. Buy tickets at www.BradentonBluesFestival.org Presenting Sponsor: BMO Harris Bank with 51 other community sponsors


Dec. 8, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Kids Create

Great Lawn and Tower Plaza: Children ages 6-16 will learn the tricks and techniques of painting outdoors. Supplies and refreshments are provided for this free activity. To register contact Carla@artcentermanatee.org or call 941-746-2862. Sponsor: ArtCenter Manatee


Dec. 21, Dusk (approx. 6 p.m.)
Reels at Rossi Movie

Pavilion & Event Area: The free movie on a 3-story screen is Arthur Christmas (G). This animated feature reveals an ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole. Santa’s son, Arthur Christmas, must complete an urgent mission before Christmas morning. Bring blankets or lawn chairs. Refreshments for sale. For info, call 941-840-0013. Sponsor: Realize Bradenton

Re-occurring Events

Drum Circle
Every Sunday, starting Oct. 21 through Nov. 18, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Regatta Plaza: Participate interactive drumming for all ages. Prior experience is not necessary and beginners are encouraged. Through November 18 For info, call 941-840-0013.

Yoga in the Park
Every Saturday, starting Oct. 20 through Dec. 1, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Outdoor Living Rooms: In a tranquil and scenic location start your morning off with yoga instructed by Preston Whaley Jr. After class make your way down to the Farmers’ Market for a perfect Saturday morning. Through Dec. 1. For info, call 941-840-0013.

Tony T September 27, 2012 at 11:38 AM
These photos are over a month old if not older why not use more current photos?
Toni Whitt (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Sorry Tony, I haven't had time to arrange for another tour so I can get fresh photos. I will work on that.
Toni Whitt (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 01:08 PM
If anyone has more recent Riverwalk photos please upload them to Patch.
Gretta J Shelton September 28, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Are there going to be food truck vendors at these events?
Toni Whitt (Editor) September 28, 2012 at 08:18 PM
I know there will be vendors at the Blues Festival. I would contact Realize Bradenton to find out which events will include Food trucks and other vendors. I know the grand opening will also have food and so will Taste of Manatee (of course).


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