No Shortage of Fall Fun in Sarasota County

In addition to being the home of Tervis, Sarasota County is famous for its great weather, pristine white sand beaches and gorgeous sunsets. But did you know it’s also an awesome place to enjoy autumn? While the Gulf Coast of Florida may not have chilly weather or a much fall foliage to speak of, fun activities abound throughout the season.

Every year, our area plays host to the internationally-acclaimed Sarasota Chalk Festival. This year, the festival will be held Nov. 10-17 in Venice, Fla.; hundreds of artists will travel to the quaint beach town to create masterpieces with the theme of “Extinct and Endangered Species.” The event is free to attend or participate in.

If you’re more interested in fine art, visit the Venice Art Festival on Nov. 1-2. In its 27th year, this free event features more than 150 artists. Attendees can meet their favorite artists and purchase original paintings, photography, sculpture, ceramics and much more.

Or maybe cos-play is more your thing? Head over to the Sarasota Medieval Fair (Nov. 8-9, 15-16 & 22-23). The annual festival is an exciting mixture of color, sounds and tastes. Take in the full-contact joust or feast on turkey legs and mead at the English pubs. The event is $16.95 for general admission and $8.95 for kids. It runs the first three weekends of November, rain or shine.

Maybe you’re into something a little more low-key? Every year on Halloween, Venice hosts a costume parade for kids. That’s it, just kids in costumes parading down the main streets of Venice. We can’t think of anything cuter than watching hundreds of spooky ghosts and goblins on this holiday. All kids are welcome to join and can meet at the Gazebo in Centennial Park at 4 p.m.

You can also go the more traditional route and go trick-or-treating. Sarasota County offers a wide range of safe walks for you and your children. Fright Night on St. Armands Circle features haunted storefronts and frightening characters; kids can also collect candy around the Circle at the numerous shops and restaurants.

A little further south, Englewood hosts a safe walk along historic Dearborn Street. Business will pass out candy to kids and you can also bring your pets, dress them up and enter them into the pet costume contest. There’s a costume contest for people, too.

Lots of fall-themed fun can also be found up in Bradenton at the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival. The festival wraps up Oct. 25-26 on about 80 acres of land and includes a corn maze, pumpkin patches, arts and crafts stations, a petting zoo and plenty of entertainment, such as a monster truck show, a “wall of death” motodome and musical performances.

You can also check out the Sarasota Pumpkin Festival (Oct. 24-26). There are carnival rides for the kids and a pie eating contest, along with plenty of live entertainment including musical performances, a pumpkin maze and a horse show. The event is $5 for kids, $7 for students and $10 for adults.

So as you can see, Sarasota County really is a great place to spend the fall season. There are plenty of events and festivals, and it’s never too cold to go out and enjoy them. Who wants to spend all of their time raking leaves, anyway?

— Hillary Terhune