The Annual Sun Fiesta - Venice, Florida

October 20 - 22, 2023

The Annual Sun Fiesta, in downtown Venice, is one of the most popular festivals of the fall season that is not an Oktoberfest. It is also one of the biggest Sarasota events of the fall.

Traditionally held on the third weekend of October it is a perfect time of year for a large outdoor, open air festival such as the Sun Fiesta, which has been put on for years by the Women’s Sertoma Club of Venice.

The reason that it’s the perfect time of year is that because usually by this time of year the hot, humid, sweltering weather of summer has passed.

It's actually, most of the years I have attended, quite comfortable to walk around the Midway in the morning or afternoon. Even on a sunny day. Although you may want to wear a hat and some sunscreen.

The weather for this festival is usually quite comfortable; sunny and warm for the afternoons and mild and pleasant for the evenings.

The Sun Fiesta, held in downtown’ Venice’s Centennial Park, a wonderful location for the festival, traditionally runs on Friday evening  from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. , Saturday from 9 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The weekend is filled with events in which you may either participate or just be a spectator.  The Friday night kickoff to the event usually features a live band from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Things really “spring” into gear on Saturday morning with the Annual Funny Bed Races with a number of competing teams vying for the championship on west Venice Avenue right next to Centennial Park at 9 a.m.

The Bed Races are traditionally followed up by the Annual Parade, Opening Ceremonies and the Venice H.S. Marching Band.

With an outdoor stage there are a number of talent and dance performances by local groups and organizations during Saturday afternoon followed by live bands performing through the rest of the evening.

There’s even a Beauty Pageant to select a Miss Sun Fiesta from among a number of young women competing for the annual title and culminating in a young woman being selected to win a $1,000 scholarship.

The Food Court on the Midway at the Sun Fiesta in downtown Venice, Florida

On Sunday afternoon in recent years there has also been the Sun Fiesta Idol Contest on the main stage featuring local talent and judges with the winner receiving a $1,000.00 scholarship from a local business sponsor.

There are also raffles and drawings and at about 4 p.m. a live band takes over the entertainment duties and plays to the close of the festival Sunday evening at 7 p.m.

So, that’s pretty much the rundown of organized activities at the yearly outdoor festival.

But there’s even more to do because, while all of those organized activities are taking place, within the festival grounds in Centennial Park there are also a number of other attractions going on.

There's an Arts & Crafts Show throughout the park, tons of food vendors selling all kinds of delicious smelling food, from barbecue to seafood,  in the open air plus there’s a large beer tent where you can bring your food, sit down at a table to eat and enjoy a beer with your meal or snack.

There is a lot of terrific smelling and tasting food to choose from! Yummy!

There’s also a kids area complete with games and a bounce house. 

There really is a lot to see and do and it’s all for free! That’s right! Free admission and free parking where you can find it.

It's not only a fun event just to attend simply to walk around and take in the sights, sounds and aromas but it is a great community spirit building event.

And the event organizers, the Women’s Sertoma Club of Venice, do a wonderful job of putting together all the moving parts of the festival  each year but not only that it’s a great charity fund raiser and the Women’s Sertoma Club of Venice have raised tens of thousands of dollars through their annual work.

These funds have been used to provide scholarships as well as charitable gifts to numerous non-profit groups and organizations in the Venice, Florida area; from Christmas Shopping for Families in need to Hospice to Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and many other groups.

I hope you get a chance to attend the Annual Sun Fiesta in Centennial Park in downtown Venice. It’s simple, unpretentious fun.

More on the Sun Fiesta!

Location: Downtown Venice, Florida in Centennial Park.

Directions: From Sarasota take Business Rt 41/Tamiami Trail south into downtown Venice. Turn right at Tampa Avenue or West Venice Avenue and look for parking where you can find it.

From I-75: Exit at Jacaranda Blvd, south to east Venice Avenue. Turn west onto East Venice Blvd, follow into downtown Venice and look for parking where you can find it.

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