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Everything you need to know about the 8th annual Bradenton Area River Regatta

The Bradenton Area River Regatta is returning to the shorelines of Bradenton and Palmetto on Saturday, Feb. 11.

BRADENTON, Fla. — For anyone looking forward to this year's Bradenton Area River Regatta – Manatee County's largest spectator event is just around the corner.

The Bradenton Area River Regatta is returning to the shorelines of Bradenton and Palmetto on Saturday, Feb. 11.

City leaders say they're expecting about 100,000 people to attend this year.

"The eighth annual Bradenton Area River Regatta oozes over-the-top exhilaration coupled with all the traditional festival favorites—music, food, fun things to do—in one awe-gasping extravaganza that will fascinate spectators of all ages long after the day is done," event leaders explain on its website. 

Local business owners are getting prepared for the influx of tourists and are looking to boost their bottom line.

"We will have a lot more people on deck, and with them understating how to handle the volume with ease and attention to detail," Jake Lopez of Jeremiah's Italian Ice in Bradenton said.

Last year during the previous regatta event, Lopez's business had only been around for six months and his team was taken by surprise at the number of customers that showed up at their business.

"We had a certain amount of volume that we were used to, moving up to it and once that they came around, it blew us out of the water, no pun intended. It 100% surprised me and it was amazing to see how big it was in the community itself," Lopez said.

The regatta is done in conjunction with the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto as well as Manatee County.

"We know it's somewhere probably $8-$10 million economic impact for that day but what it does regionally over the next several years is that it gets people understanding Bradenton and seeing how exciting it is," Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown said.

Brown said he hopes many of those tourists return to continue investing their dollars in the community as staff, volunteers, local law enforcement and small businesses get ready for a busy weekend.

Here's a breakdown of everything to know about this year's event.

Admission cost

For anyone wondering how much this event will break their banks – don't worry, it's free!

Yes, you read that right. This day jammed packed with races, live music, light shows and more events is open for anyone to experience.

Things to do

The 8th annual Bradenton Area River Regatta will feature entertainment on both land and water including high-speed watercraft racing, family-fun interactive activities, and chart-topping musical performances from dawn to dusk.

For powerboat racing, event leaders say the perfect place to watch is from high atop the Green Bridge. The bridge will be closed completely across to offer a view of it all.

And for the first time ever, there will be a "Sky Elements Drone Light Show" which is a musically choreographed drone light show spectacular happening at 6:30 p.m. on the Manatee River. It was originally scheduled for 7 p.m., but due to weather conditions, it was moved up a half hour, event officials said.  

"Witness the exorbitant radiance and resplendence, all musically choreographed, of this sky-lighting performance as it caps the day’s activities with vivid, colorful and literally brilliant technology. Watch us…Light It Up!"


Happening in Bradenton

DeSoto Little Anglers Fishing Tourney

Location: Palmetto Pier

Time: 8:30 a.m.

Dog Frisbee Shows

Location: Bradenton Riverwalk Main Lawn

Time: Noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. meet & greet

Stunt Dog Shows

Location: Bradenton Riverwalk Amphitheater

Time: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Distinguished Daredevils Variety Show 

Location: Bradenton Riverwalk Amphitheater

Time: 10 a.m., Noon, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Pittsburgh Pirates/Bradenton Marauders Family Fun Zone and Area Food Festival

Location: Bradenton Riverwalk Main Lawn 

Time: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Kristen Smoyer, World Flyboard Champ

Time: Noon until 5 p.m. – between boat races

Sky Elements Drone Light Show

Location: Manatee River

Time: 7 p.m.

Happening in Palmetto

Viewing of Vintage Powerboats

Location: Riverside Avenue/Riverside Boat Ramp

Time: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Palmetto "Family Fun Zone" – U.S. Army and U.S. National Guard (plus Regatta Kids Rides)

Location: Riverside West Park

Time: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fan Activation Zone

Location: Riverside West Park 

Time: Noone until 3:30 p.m.

To check out the full schedule for stage and music performances along with races in both Bradenton and Palmetto, click here.

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