We're Hiring! Events & Membership Coordinator


Assists Executive Director, Venice MainStreet, its Board, staff and volunteers in producing special events, fundraisers, and other activities. Coordinate, assist and staff special events and fundraisers sponsored by VMS. Actively solicits new members and yearly sponsorships. This position reports directly to the Executive Director.

At least three years coordinating special events is required. Experience with the following is a priority: Social Media, graphic design, Microsoft Office software: Word, Excel, Outlook etc.

• Coordinates with the Executive Director and plans a number of events throughout the year, including downtown promotions, special events, and fundraisers already on VMS yearly calendar. These include: Three Craft Festivals and two Art Festivals, Eggstravaganza Easter Egg Hunt, Two Sidewalk Sales, Christmas in July, Christmas Walk, themed Thursdays Downtown, Fashion Show, Venice Blues Crawl and Blues Festival.
• Alongside the Executive Director, develop new events and fundraisers.
• Creates, attends and participates in VMS committee meetings as necessary.
• Secures necessary permits from City, County, or any other appropriate governing entity.
• Determine event advertising needs and budget
• Oversees volunteer staff scheduling, training and appreciation
• Acquire event sponsors and marketing partners
• Develops and maintains an appropriate data system for record keeping; develops and monitors event budgets; acquires bids for event equipment rental and/or purchasing needs; prepares post event reports and event books; prepares sponsor post event report, tracks volunteer hours, etc.
• Tracks and follows through on VMS obligations to marketing partners and event sponsors
• Works to build goodwill between downtown merchants and VMS

• Actively solicits new members
• Finds and develops new premium level, yearly sponsors
• Other duties and activities as determined by the Executive Director

• Full time
• Start date is January 2, 2017
• Available eveings and weekends
• Must be able to lift over 25lbs and stand for long periods of time in all weather conditions

Please email a cover letter and resume to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A Home for History

A little more than a decade ago, Venice was at risk of losing a valuable piece of its history. A two-story Queen Anne Victorian-style house, constructed in 1896, was in disrepair and on the verge of being demolished. A small band of volunteers stepped forward and began restoring the house. And the City of Venice agreed to acquire the house and have it moved to public property behind City Hall.Lord Higel

Over the years, those volunteers have raised about $400,000 and donated thousands of hours of labor to completely restoring the building’s exterior. Work is currently underway to complete restoration of the building’s interior as well as construct an outside ADA-approved restroom and access ramp. The goal is to complete restoration of the house in time for Venice’s 90th anniversary on May 9, 2017.

The two-story house is the second oldest residence in Sarasota County. What sets it apart in addition to its architectural significance, however, is the unique role it played in our city’s history. The house was constructed by Joseph Lord in the midst of his 90-acre orange grove, which was located on the south bank of Roberts Bay. Lord played a major role in the development of the area. He eventually owned more than 50,000 acres of what would become South Sarasota County. Perhaps his most significant contribution to the local economy, however, occurred when he took out a small advertisement in a Chicago newspaper, touting the opportunities for investment in the area. His ad caught the attention of a wealthy widow named Bertha Palmer, who sailed into Sarasota Bay in 1910 for a closer look. The rest, as they say, is history.

In 1910, George and Abigail Higel moved their family into the house. In addition to managing Lord’s orange grove, George also wrote a regular column for a Sarasota newspaper, which today provides us much of what we know about life in the Venice area during those formative years.
Once restored, the first floor of the Lord-Higel House will serve as an early settler museum and welcome center. Visitors will be able to relax on rocking chairs lining the wrap-around porch while school children can experience first-hand what it was like to live in the area at the turn of the 20th Century. As part of the City’s Venice Museum & Archives, the historic house will be operated by volunteer docents as the Triangle Inn is today.

Please join us in restoring this historic treasure. A special Lord-Higel House Restoration Fund has been established by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and can be accessed at: http://www.gulfcoastcf.org/lhh.php. Or, you can mail your tax-free donation to Venice Heritage at P.O. Box 1190, Venice, Florida, 34284-1190. Together, we can make this vision for Venice’s future a reality.

29th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest Call To Artist

November 5 & 6, 2016

Official Poster Design Contest

Venice MainStreet, Inc. is holding a contest for the 29th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest official poster design. The artist selected by the Design Committee will be awarded $500 for their design, along with a booth at the festival ($500 value, for a prize package worth $1,000). The winning design will be featured as the official poster, which will be showcased on merchandise* and in advertising**. The winner must be available for an unveiling event on the evening of Wednesday, November 2, 2016.

• Original (unframed) artwork must be delivered to Collector’s Gallery and Framery (114 South Nokomis Avenue) by 5pm on Saturday, September 17, 2016 (Framery will be closed 8/29-9/10).
• The winner must also submit a high-resolution editable, working digital file (for poster and merchandise production).
• Finished poster size will be 22” x 28” (original does not need to be the same size).
• Image must include at least one of “flora imagery typical of Venice.” (Copy that will be incorporated into the poster/merchandise will include “29th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest”).

*the design will be showcased on other merchandise, along with the t-shirts.
**the design will be utilized in advertising done by Venice MainStreet, Inc. Any advertising done by Howard Alan Events may not include the design.

About the Downtown Venice Art Fest
The Downtown Venice Art Fest is one of the area’s largest and finest art shows. Thousands of visitors kick-off season with this Howard Alan event that takes place along Venice Avenue in beautiful, historic downtown Venice. For more information, please call Venice MainStreet at 941.484.6722. Find out more about Howard Alan Events at www.artfestival.com.

Please include the following information with your submission:
City, State, Zip
Entry Title

Release: If the design I have submitted to the 2016 (29th Annual) Downtown Venice Art Fest Poster Design Contest is selected as the winning entry, Venice MainStreet and Howard Alan Events have the exclusive right to reproduce, sell, and distribute copies of the work. The original can be sold by me (the artist). In exchange for reproduction rights and preparation of high-resolution digital file, I will receive $500 and a booth at the festival.

Venice MainStreet Receives Business of The Year: Nonprofit

Venice MainStreet is pleased to have been chosen as a "Gem of Venice" in the 37th annual Venice Area Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year awards. The recognition of Venice MainStreet's efforts in economic vitlaity and historic preservation is greatly apprieciated. BOTY

New to Venice: Living Canvas - Not your typical “tattoo shop”

By Rob Hamilton, Owner / Professional PiercerLiving Canvas 2

When I decided the time had come to open my own tattoo studio, I couldn’t think of a better location than the art rich atmosphere on the Island of Venice. I wanted to be located in the heart of the community I had come to know and love. After months of speaking and meeting with zoning officials, we were finally able to find a great location just a few blocks away from W Venice Ave. I cannot begin to describe the overwhelming joy that came with knowing we would be the first and only tattoo studio on the Island. Nonetheless, I knew this came with great responsibility.

Our studio needed to be more than your basic “tattoo shop”. It became very important to me to be able to overcome the stigma that surrounds the industry. We developed and implemented a business plan that created a true family friendly Art, Tattoo, and Piercing Studio. We created a warm, clean, and inviting studio so that we can serve people from all walks of life in the City of Venice, whether they are 6 or 96.

I am truly overwhelmed by the support we had at our ribbon cutting ceremony. We had over 70 clients, business owners, community leaders, friends, and family that came out to welcome us to the Island. Their positive words and feedback about our studio were more than we could have ever hoped for. This was affirmation that we had made the right decision by opening on the Island and creating a different kind of environment than most tattoo shops.
However, opening on the Island was about more than that. We joined, and became very active in, the Chamber of Commerce, the Venice Area Young Professionals, Venice MainStreet, and a local BNI chapter (Money in the Morning), and jumped on every opportunity we could to get involved. Our mission is not only to provide a unique experience in the studio, but also, to give back to the community that has already shown us so much support.

One of the most important ways we give back is by giving local artists a place to display and sell their works of art without the high consignment fees (usually 40-50%) that most galleries charge. We proudly display art from eight different local artists with plans to incorporate work from many more in the years to come. This also allows us the opportunity to host charity art events benefitting small, local nonprofits through Beauty and the Beards Charities, Inc. The first of which raised over $1200 for Face-Autism, Inc. More information about Beauty and the Beards, and the event, can be found at facebook.com/bandbcharities.

I couldn’t be more proud to be part of such an amazing, eclectic community. Being located on the Island provides an amazing opportunity to be part of something bigger than ourselves and to give support to other great local businesses and organizations. We would love for you to come in and experience the difference for yourself, 241 S Tamiami Trail.



Venice MainStreet has been designated as an accredited Main Street America™ program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center. Each year, the National Main Street Center and its Coordinating Program partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach®.

“Once again, we are thrilled to recognize this year’s nationally accredited Main Street America communities for their outstanding work,” says Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “We are experiencing an exciting era for America’s cities and towns, with a growing recognition of the importance of strong local enterprise, distinctive character, engaged residents, and sense of place. These are things that Main Street America programs have been working to protect and advance for years, strengthening the economic, social, and cultural fabric of communities across the country.”

The organization’s performance is annually evaluated by Florida Main Street, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.

Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,000 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $65.6 billion in new public and private investment, generated 556,960 net new jobs and 126,476 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 260,000 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Young Professionals Week

Venice Area Young Professionals was initiated by a small group of members active in the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce who shared a vision that Venice would benefit from a Young Professionals group. In 2006, the VAYP was formed as a committee of the Chamber and since then has become a large and vital organization in the community.

Today, the Venice Area Young Professionals, provides professional development opportunities for members, volunteer activities that make an impact on our community, and social activities for individuals and families to share in. VAYP’s mission is to unite, lead and encourage involvement to create a vibrant and prosperous community.

As VAYP celebrates its 10 years anniversary, they invite all to participate in a weeklong Young Professionals Week celebration in Venice. Yearly Young Professional weeks have become community staples across the nation. Please join us as we celebrate the successes of the Venice Area Young Professionals and continue our mission in the prosperity of our community. The week events follow, check out VAYP Facebook page for more details:

June 11th- Beach Bash at Venice North Jetty Pavilion from 4 pm - 8 pm (Family Friendly event) BBQ provided by Backwoods BBQ and Catering

June 12th- Stone Crab Picnic and a Game at Port Charlotte Stone Crabs $20/person includes food and ticket. Pre-registration required at Venice Chamber of Commerce website. 12:35 pm Game

June 15th- Wake up Venice with Venice Area Chamber of Commerce at HarborChase of Venice 7:30-9:00 am

June 16th- Leverage with LinkedIn Lunch and Learn with Gretchen Miscik at Venice Area Chamber of Commerce 11:30-1:00 pm.

June 17th- VAYP Rise N Grind Networking at Venice Wine & Coffee 7:30-9:00 am.

For more information contacted the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce: (941) 488-2236

A Sweet Taste of Italy


By Maria Baskin

If you have eaten at one of our fine downtown Venice restaurants, you have probably found your way to Ciao Gelato for one of their heavenly gelatos, Italy’s version of ice cream. I recently interviewed one of the owners of Ciao Gelato and a power house of a woman, Daria Nafziger. I asked her how she and her husband/business partner, RJ, made their way from their former life in print/tech sales to owning this cozy little gelato shop on West Venice Avenue.

“Our gelato is such a good product and we feel so passionate about the process. We make our gelato fresh everyday with whole milk not fat, making four ounces of espresso gelato, for example, 160 calories. We also use fresh fruit no purees and we don’t whip it we mix it by hand which makes the gelato richer.” They get their base ingredients, which includes Amaretto (as in Saronno Italian liquor), and their equipment, Carpigiani, from Italy. “We get such satisfaction out of introducing our customers to the authentic experience of our gelato,” she tells me beaming. Whenever possible they make the effort to use local vendors such as Dakin Dairy in Myakka City, Sea Salt Florida out of Bradenton, J and M Herbs from Arcadia and Yummies Donuts in Venice.

“Who creates the different flavors?” I ask. “My husband, RJ, is the genius behind the twenty flavors we carry everyday and more than half change each day.” There are always the eight traditional flavors – Tiramisu`, Pistachio, Peanut Butter, Stracciatella made with Chantilly cream laced with ribbons of chocolate. And then there are the twelve non-traditional flavors – Oreo, mint-chocolate, festive seasonal Peppermint and Candy Cane, Spring Cake, Al Gusto Chocolate, Caramel Sea Salt and Rum Raisin… to mention a few.
As Daria and I talked about Ciao` Gelato, I noticed a group of young women sitting at one of the little café tables in the shop each enjoying a different flavored cone. I walked over, introduced myself and asked, “Why do you come to Ciao Gelato?” “Honestly?” said Emma Szablowski. “It tastes better!” Her friend, Mercedez Weigelt, then added, “Their flavors are so different.” By the time I wrote down their responses, their gelatos were gone but they had that boy-was-that-good look on their faces.
As I turned back to Daria I asked, “How was business this season?”
“Great!” calls out one of her associates, Alessandro, a young man from Italy whom they met at one of the culinary classes RJ attended on the art of making gelato.
“What do the tourists/visitors say about Venice?”
“They love downtown Venice and would love to shop all day!”
“Where are your customers coming from?”
“There is a younger population starting to come and not just tourists from Washington, Colorado, France, Germany, Canada and England. The locals who live, work and shop in Venice are a big part of the growth of downtown. We make sure not to forget them.” During the off season, Ciao Gelato offers a one-dollar-off coupon twice a week in the Gondolier Sun.

I visit Ciao Gelato often and I am never disappointed. If you haven’t stopped in for one of their rich luscious gelatos, you’re denying your taste buds a bit of the divine!

Vote for Venice MainStreet!

By Emilio Carlesimo

It may be confusing, as many people think of Venice MainStreet as a merchant organization. However, VMS is not solely an organization of downtown business owners and its mission is far broader than helping businesses thrive. It is an organization created 28 years ago by a group of forward thinking business leaders, downtown merchants and city fathers who knew that to preserve our downtown we needed to do more.

In the mid-1980's downtown Venice was at a crossroads. It could have fallen into disrepair, as apathy and new retail options entered the market. Or it could flourish and become the town we celebrate today.
In 1988 Venice Main Street was accepted into the National Main Street organization. No small feat, as the application process took over two years and required that the applicant (Venice) showed a full community partnership between the city, chamber of commerce, business people, merchants, property owners, service organizations and citizens. It was an incredible task to bring all of these diverse groups together to support a plan to revitalize and stabilize downtown Venice. Can you envision Venice without its welcoming downtown avenues and gateway to the beaches?

The Main Street designation has allowed VMS to do more than could be accomplished by just a downtown business association. Its non-profit (501C3) designation gives it many advantages and allows all contributions to be tax deductible.

In welcoming Venice into the National Main Street program, the judges recognized Venice’s great sense of history and its desire to see the downtown remain a viable part of the community. They also added that Venice still maintains a belief in the "hometown" concept and concluded, "It is a special place, with a special heritage and most of all, special people." That is still true thanks to the efforts of Venice Mainstreet.
Venice MainStreet deserves your support always, but needs your help just a little extra this month. Venice MainSreet joins 24 other Main Streets across the country in the final stages of America’s Main Street Contest. Online voting takes place May 2nd - May 29th and Venice MainStreet could win a grant of $25,000! If VMS receives these much, needed funds it will help tremendously in its work of keeping the magic of Venice alive.
Vote for Venice MainStreet: http://mainstreetcontest.com/profile.php?id=46

Venice MainStreet Named Quarterfinalist for “America’s Main Streets” Contest

The national small business movement, Independent We Stand, announces the quarterfinalists, including Venice MainStreet, of the 2016 Independent We Stand “America’s Main Streets” contest. As the lifeblood of our cities and towns, Main Streets play an important role in the long-term success of communities and help build a sense of place. Venice Main Street is calling on the public to vote for help move VMS one step closer to the grand prize of $25,000.

Venice MainStreet was founded in 1987. During this time businesses and downtown were struggling. Today downtown prospers due to the ongoing economic vitality and support that Venice MainStreet brings to it. The drive of Venice MainStreet is historic preservation through the context of economic vitality. “To protect what we have, we as a community must work together keep it viable.” says Erin Silk VMS Executive Director, “We are excited to be considered for the $25,000 grant from Independent We Stand. We hope you will help us by voting every day until May 29th.”

“The goal of this inaugural Independent We Stand ‘America’s Main Streets’ contest is to promote the importance and strong economic benefits of Main Streets and the small businesses that help them thrive,” says Independent We Stand co-founder Bill Brunelle. “We are so pleased to see how passionate people are about their Main Streets. It’s evident by the broad range of nominations we saw representing 44 states in the first round. Now, it’s time to rally and vote again for these terrific quarterfinalists.”

More than 150,000 votes were cast for 253 nominees during the nominations phase. The quarterfinalists in alphabetical order are:
• Ames Main Street Cultural District, Ames, Iowa
• Cedar Lee Business District Ohio, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
• Corning's Gaffer District, Corning, N.Y.
• Dover-Foxcroft Downtown, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine
• Downtown Brookings, Brookings, S.D.
• Downtown Development Authority of the City of Tifton, Tifton, Ga.
• Downtown Laurel, MS, Laurel, Miss.
• Downtown Lynden, Lynden, Wash.
• Doylestown, PA, Doylestown, Pa.
• Gateway to the Great North Woods, Millinocket, Maine
• Grapevine Historic Main Street, Grapevine, Texas
• Historic Downtown Franklin TN, Franklin, Tenn.
• Jacksonville Main Street, Jacksonville, Ill.
• Main Street Greenville, Greenville, Ohio
• Main Street Libertyville, Libertyville, Ill.
• Main Street Madison Indiana, Madison, Ind.
• McKinney Main Street, McKinney, Texas
• Moultrie Main Street, Moultrie, Ga.
• Sterling Main Street, Sterling, Ill.
• Stuart Main Street, Stuart, Fla.
• Third Street, Beaver, Pa.
• Venice Main Street, Venice, Fla.
• Water Street, Gardiner, Maine
• Wellsboro Main Street Pennsylvania, Wellsboro, Pa.
• Woodstock, Georgia, Woodstock, Ga.

Semifinalist voting began May 2 at www.MainStreetContest.com and runs through May 29. Voting can be done daily.

The winner of the 2016 “America’s Main Streets” contest will be announced June 3.



Downtown is “Lovin’ Our Locals”

by Bill Willson

Bill WillsonI am Bill Willson, President of Roberts Insurance Group, located on the island of Venice. It is my pleasure to serve as this year’s Vice President of the Venice MainStreet organization. Hopefully you are aware of this volunteer-driven, non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the historic character, beauty, community, and economic vitality of Historic downtown Venice.

My devout love for the area likely stems from a very long personal history of living in Sarasota County. After a brief, six-month stint in my birth place of New York City, my family moved to Sarasota County where I grew up, received my education, married, raised two daughters, and had only two employers during my long career here. I am married to another “almost native” Venice girl who grew up here on the island. To us, this is paradise, and fortunately we didn’t have to wait until after our working years to discover that.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be “A Local,” a full-timer who bids farewell to many of my surrounding neighbors who are dear friends ending their annual migration South for the Winter about the end of March. I truly miss golfing and socializing with them, and I’m very appreciative of the many benefits they bring to our community. But, let’s be honest, have you ever said, “it’s too busy to go downtown now, let’s wait until after season?”

Are you in luck! Our friendly downtown shops and eateries want you to know “It’s Time for Lovin’ Our Locals.” Not that they don’t love you all year long, but they know they haven’t seen some of us for awhile. We want you to rediscover your downtown. To kick off welcoming you back, participating Venice MainStreet businesses are hosting a Wine Walk.

This first taste of welcome occurs on Thursday, April 21st between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. where participating stores will offer free wine while you shop and restaurants will have dining specials. To enjoy this free event, simply go to either the Burgundy Square Breezeway on Miami Ave. or the kiosk in Centennial Park to receive your wrist band, and a list of participating businesses.

This is the first of several opportunities presented by Venice MainStreet for “Lovin’ Our Locals” events designed to reacquaint you with Your Downtown. Don’t be a stranger. Our beloved snowbirds may have once again flown the coop, but that makes it a great time for our locals to flock downtown. Come enjoy what you love, quaint downtown Venice. You’re bound to find some sizzling hot deals for summer, and even some parking, too.

Visit these participating shops during the Wine Walk: Ciao Gelato, DanaTyler, Dick's Shoes, Down Island Way Boutique, Eyes on You, La Bella Interiors, Modern Woodmen of America, Shirt Stop, Sirena Island Day Spa, SunBug, Tarpon Bay Trading Co, Tommy's Fine Men's Consignment, Venice, In Vogue, Venice Wine & Coffee, Zak's Clothing Boutique.

Enjoy additional Wine Walk specials when you dine at: Café Venice, Ristorante San Marco, and Trattoria Da Mino.

Meet Tommy's Fine Men's Consignment


Two years ago, what started out as a suggestion over dinner, Tommy’s Fine Men’s Consignment became a reality. Tommy Steckel opened his fine men’s consignment shop at 101 West Venice Avenue, where it remains today.

An entirely men’s consignment shop may be a new concept for the area, but it’s one that is catching on with the support from Venice MainStreet, the Venice Chamber of Commerce and local residents and businesses. Word of mouth, online and print advertising have brought business from as far north as the Tampa Bay area and as far south as Naples.

With over 40 years’ experience in designer and contemporary clothing and accessories, Tommy can help you with your men’s wear needs. Whether you are going to a black tie affair, social engagement, or just hanging out, you don’t have to break the bank to have a great outfit.

Tommy takes great pride in building relationships with both customers and consignors. When you visit this boutique shop, you will see some of the best men’s fashions at consignment prices. You will enjoy a fantastic selection of men’s clothing from some very recognizable names such as Tommy Bahama, Tori Richard, Polo, Robert Graham, Bugatchi and many more. He also has a selection of leather jackets, hats, travel accessories, sport jackets, jewelry and watches along with other men’s items.

Tommy has established partnerships with Agape Flights, Habitat for Humanity, The Bridge Church, Loveland Center and other local charities. His business is about more than helping men dress well; he wants to help spread well-being. Tommy is a firm believer of paying it forward. So, when the consignment period is over, the items go to these organizations to help others.

Discover a gentleman’s store that is a one-of-a-kind consignment establishment at 101 West Venice Avenue in downtown Venice. Their telephone number is 941-786-1850 or you can take a quick tour of the store at their website at www.tommysfinemensconsignment.com.

Tommy’s accepts new and gently worn clothing, accessories, and shoes for consignment by appointment. Call 941-786-1850.

It's Great Downtown!

TracyHello, my name is Tracy and I'm a Venice MainStreet 'Downtowner' (a roving ambassador).  Venice MainStreet is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and promoting, Historic Downtown Venice. Let me show you around town!  Let's have a seat in Fountain Park and I'll tell you a little about Venice.  This park is one of several pocket parks that John Nolen and Prentiss French established while designing the City.  Venice was first settled in 1870 by Robert Rickford Roberts (Roberts Bay).  In 1884, Frank Higel bought part of Roberts' holdings and established a citrus operation.  Venice was originally called Horse and Chaise but was changed to Venice when the settlers applied for a post office designation.  In 1911, Bertha Honore Palmer moved to the area and lobbied for the railroad line to extend to Venice.  Dr. Fred Albee, a well-known orthopedic surgeon, hired John Nolen in 1925 to design a city plan for Venice.  In 1931, the Kentucky Military Institute (KMI) settled on Venice as its winter headquarters and was part of the Venice community until 1970.  World War II brought the construction of the Venice Army Air Base to train fighter pilots and ground crewmen.  It is now the Venice Municipal Airport.  The Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus came to town in 1960 to establish their winter headquarters until 1992.  The Army Corps of Engineers dredged the Intracoastal Waterway connecting Roberts and Lemon Bay, finishing in 1967.  The canal created an artificial island of downtown Venice to the Gulf that can only be reached by bridges.  Well, that's enough history.  If you are still interested stop by the Venice Museum & Archives on Nassau Street.  Come on, we'll walk around a bit before lunch.  Over at the Merchants of Venice building you can pick up spices or sign up for a cooking class, or get your favorite piece of art framed.  Here on Miami Avenue, are several shops where you can purchase everything from coastal items to bamboo sheets and linens.  You can also enjoy a glass of wine or eat at the restaurants.  Miami Avenue is where Venice MainStreet hosts crafts fairs during the year.  Over on Tampa Avenue, we have the KMI building which has various shops and memorabilia from its days as dorms and class rooms for the Kentucky Military Institute’s cadets.  Also on Tampa, is the Venice Theater which has twice hosted the International Association of Community Theaters.  Saturday mornings the Farmer's Market is held here.  On Venice Avenue, we have art festivals in March and November and shops, restaurants, oh my, we have a something for everybody!  There are also free concerts at the gazebo in Centennial Park and the Sun Fiesta with bed races down Venice Avenue.  And parades; Halloween, Holiday and boat parades and the Eggstravaganza at Easter.  So much more.  Don't forget the beach!  Well, I'd say we had a pretty full day and only scratched the surface.  You'll have to come back soon and enjoy all that Venice has to offer.

Emilio Carlesimo and Venice MainStreet Team Up For Downtown Vitality

Emilio PictureVenice MainStreet, Venice’s proud promoter of preservation and economic vitality for all things Downtown Venice, has named Emilio Carlesimo, former City of Venice Councilmember, to head an extensive membership initiative for the organization. 

Founded in 1987, Venice MainStreet is a volunteer driven organization that is accredited through Florida and National Main Street Programs. VMS is united with over 1,000 other Main Street Communities across the country.

In coordination with Venice MainStreet mission, Emilio will steward the way to enlist more downtown merchants on the “Avenues”, business owners outside the downtown district, and ask for community memberships to form a more united Historic Downtown Venice.

Emilio and his wife Brenda Lee Carlesimo have lived in Venice 28 years. Elected to City Council in 2009, Emilio served two three year terms. He is currently a member of Epiphany Cathedral Catholic Church, serves on the Board of Trustees of Venice Regional Bayfront Health, as well as serves on the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army. Emilio is a retired Firefighter from the Detroit Fire Department after 28 years of service and a 13 year veteran of the Sarasota County Fire Department.

“Emilio’s commitment to Venice makes him the perfect candidate for the role of Membership Committee Chair,” says Erin Silk, Executive Director of Venice MainStreet. She adds, “Emilio has an enthusiasm for the preservation and promotion of our beautiful downtown that is obvious when he communicates the mission of Venice MainStreet.”

Venice MainStreet membership is comprised of supporting business members and community members. With a long list of yearly events and promotional activities, as well as the constant beautification efforts of the Avenues, the supporting members play a huge role in the prosperity of downtown.

So next time you see Emilio around town ask him about how you too can support Historic Downtown Venice through a yearly membership and help keep the magic of Venice alive.

Receives 2015 National Main Street Accreditation

Venice MainStreet has been designated as an accredited National Main Street Program for meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Main Street Center®, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street® programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to historic preservation and community revitalization through the Main Street Four Point Approach®.

"We congratulate this year's nationally accredited Main Street programs for their outstanding accomplishment in meeting the National Main Street Center's 10 Standards of Performance," says Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. "As the National Main Street Center celebrates its 35thAnniversary, it is also important to celebrate the achievements of the local Main Street programs across the country, some of whom have been around since the beginning. These local programs work hard every day to make their communities great places to work, live, play and visit while still preserving their historic character."

The organization's performance is annually evaluated by the Florida Main Street Program, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten performance standards. These standards set the benchmarks for measuring an individual Main Street program's application of the Main Street Four Point Approach® to commercial district revitalization. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.

"We are proud of our longevity of accreditation with the National Main Street Program and we look forward to a strong partnership for years to come. Venice MainStreet has been an accredited Main Street Program since 1987. We are proud of the success Venice has seen due to this partnership," says Erin Silk, Venice MainStreet Executive Director. She continues, "We look forward to pressing on with our mission of enhancing the quality of life in our community by preserving, protecting, and promoting historic downtown Venice."

Established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center helps communities of all sizes revitalize their older and historic commercial districts. Working in more than 2,000 downtowns and urban neighborhoods over the last 35 years, the Main Street program has leveraged more than $61.7 billion in new public and private investment. Participating communities have created 528,557 net new jobs and 120,510 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 251,838 buildings, leveraging an average of $26.52 in new investment for every dollar spent on their Main Street district revitalization efforts.

28th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest

28th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest
November 7& 8, 2015

  Official Poster Design Contest

  Venice MainStreet, Inc. is holding a contest for the 28th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest official poster design.  The artist selected by the Design Committee will be awarded $500 for their design, along with a booth at the festival ($500 value, for a prize package worth $1,000).  The winning design will be featured as the official poster, which will be showcased on merchandise* and in advertising**.  The winner will be expected to be available for an unveiling event on the evening of Wednesday, November 4, 2015.




  • ·Original (unframed) artwork must be delivered to Collector’s Gallery and Framery (114 South Nokomis Avenue) by 5pm on Saturday, September 19, 2015.
  • ·The winner must also submit a high-resolution editable, working digital file (for poster and merchandise production).
  • ·Finished poster size will be 22 x 28 (original does not need to be the same size).
  • ·Image must include at least one of the Venice bridges. (Copy that will be incorporated into the poster/merchandise will include “28th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest”).


*there is a possibility that the design will be showcased on other merchandise, along with the t-shirts.

 **the design will be utilized in advertising done by Venice MainStreet, Inc.  Any advertising done by Howard Alan Events may not include the design.


About the Downtown Venice Art Fest

Celebrating its 28th year in 2015, the Downtown Venice Art Fest is one of the area’s largest and finest art fairs.   Thousands of visitors kick-off season with this Howard Alan event that takes place along Venice Avenue in beautiful, historic downtown Venice.    For more information, please call Venice MainStreet at 941.484.6722.  Find out more about Howard Alan Events at www.artfestival.com.

Venice MainStreet and Venice Blue's Festival

Venice MainStreet and Venice Blue's Festival donated $3,000 to the Venice High School Band.
Venice MainStreet President, Tracy Ivey, presents a check to Jonathan Case, Venice High School Band Teacher. The donation of $3,000 was for the participation of Venice High School students in the 2013 and 2014 Venice Blue's Festival.

Voice of Venice Blog is Up!

Greetings from the Voice of Venice. Our new website has been up for a while, but there was a challenge with the Blog. It is now go go go. This will be the place for pretty pictures, reminders and info on upcoming events and the background scoop on downtown Venice. If you missed the VMS Arts & Crafts Festival this past week end, it was a great show. The humidity was down and the crowds were up. The rains held off, so everybody was happy. This was the first two days at work for Venice MainStreet's new Executive Director Cat. Yes, she has a last name which I keep forgetting. She has promised to post something soon telling about herself and posting a picture so we can all recognize her to call out a how-de-doo, welcome neighbor. VMS and Cat have all kinds of ideas for VMS downtown. If you're looking for a good place to volunteer, now is the time. If you have info to share about downtown, please send to Cat at Venice MainStreet. I'll be back real soon.


The Voice of Venice

venicearch.jpgWelcome to the first blog from the Voice of Venice. The Voice will be presenting information on downtown Venice and Venice MainStreet. Venice MainStreet is a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to the Beautification, Historic Preservation, Economic and Community Vitality of our beautiful, downtown area. We will be covering community events that happen downtown, historic preservation activities and community improvements. Expect to hear about businesses opening, closing, moving or expanding. There will be some community profiles done on persons of interest to us. Business stories on new projects or merchandise lines may be profiled. Plus I hope to be sharing many photographs, not only ours, but some of yours. This will be the place to share wonderful stories and photographs. We hope to become a Voice you’ll want to share and enjoy.

Please let us know if there is something you’d like to see us communicate in the future. Our goal is to have you take as much pleasure in our historic downtown as we do. Join us to learn all sorts of things about our home towns down town. Is anyone humming Petulia Clark’s big hit yet.” Downtown, everything’s waiting for you.”


Click Here to Read Past Issues of the Venice MainStreet Newsletter

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Ehrhart Family Foundation