Florida Heritage Festival

Florida Heritage Festival

March-April
The celebration, formerly known as the De Soto Celebration, in Florida is in honor of the young Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto (c. 1500-1542), who arrived on the west coast of Florida, probably near Tampa Bay and the present-day town of Bradenton, in 1539. With his band of several hundred conquistadores (conquerors), de Soto set out on a 4,000-mile trek through the wilderness north to the Blue Ridge Mountains, across them, south along the Alabama River to present-day Mobile, across the Mississippi River into what is now Arkansas, and explored further to the south and west. It was the first time a European had explored the North American interior.
The De Soto Celebration held each year from late March through most of April in Bradenton goes back to 1939. In past years, a group of costumed conquistadores would reenact de Soto's landing, coming ashore in longboats and skirmishing with the "Indians" in full view of a grandstand full of spectators then pressing onward until they reached Bradenton, where they would raid the county courthouse. Today they capture the De Soto Square Mall.
Other festival events include a children's parade, a grand parade, a bottle boat regatta, and a seafood fest with live entertainment, arts and crafts, and boat cruises with the conquistadores.
CONTACTS:
Hernando De Soto Historical Society
910 Third Ave. W.
Bradenton, FL 34205
941-747-1998; fax: 941-747-7953
www.desotohq.com
SOURCES:
GdUSFest-1984, p. 33
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Florida Heritage Festival. Manatee County's annual big celebration of its history offers a number of events this month, including the DeSoto Seafood Fest, April 6 and 7; The Bottle Boat Regatta, April 13; a musical and fashion show, April 20; the DeSoto Ball, April 26; and the DeSoto Grand Parade, April 27.
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