The Sweat-Hogs or Team KVB by Maria Baskin

The Sweat-Hogs or Team KVB by Maria Baskin

The Sweat-Hogs or Team KVB
by Maria Baskin

Team Keep Venice Beautiful (KVB) is an offshoot of Venice Area Beautification, Inc. (VABI).  Team KVB is a diversified group of 33 men and women of all ages who come from different professional backgrounds.  KVB’s goal is not to organize ribbon cuttings or hold charity balls or line the streets with pretty flowers, although there is nothing wrong with any of these activities.  Their goal is to literally “make a difference on the ground,” says Corky Dalton, Leader of Team KVB.
KVB’s mission is to:

* Remove invasive species (only goal when Team KVB first formed 12 years ago known as Brazilian Pepper Patrol)
* Clean and remove leaves and branches from around bushes and trees
* Remove “human” trash around plant beds

Doesn’t sound like glitz and glamour, does it?  Well, ask Tim Leach, a Venice resident, who noticed “the overgrown and ugly appearance at the back of the Venice High School fence line.” Team KVB is responsible for cleaning up truck loads of invasive bushes and carting them away from the Venice High School fence.  People notice when green spaces are neglected and they also notice when the vegetation cared for and thriving.

KVB requires its volunteers to get their hands dirty and break a sweat. That’s how they became known as the Sweat-hogs.

Why should you consider volunteering?  Here are some of the reasons the members of Team KVB joined the team:

“When I finish our Thursday work, I can see the difference my fellow-KVBers and I have made, and I can feel it in my muscles.”

“When I work with this group and share some sweat, a little dirt, and a pinch of humor, it strengthens my sense of belonging in Venice.”

“As I go about my work, I appreciate the immediate Thank you’s received from passersby. It reinforces my reason for being part of KVB.”

Partnering with the Department of Public Works and Sarasota County this little-big army of helpers from Team KVB care for the following green areas along with many others:

Venice downtown, Heritage Park, Centennial Park, Fountains, Festival grounds at the airport, Venice Museum, and the Arboretum

Next time you are driving around Venice, look for the yellow T-Shirts with Team KVB written on them.  You may even discover the inner Sweat-hog you didn’t know you had in you. Bring your own implements or use those provided by Team KVP, and join Team: Keeping Venice Beautiful.  If you would like more information call 941-207-8224 or email

Preserve the Past, Enjoy the Present, Plan for the Future by Maria Baskin

Preserve the Past, Enjoy the Present, Plan for the Future by Maria Baskin

What do all these organizations have in common?

The Venice-Nokomis Woman’s Club (VNWC) is a group of more than 100 dedicated  women who don’t just talk about working for and supporting our community, they “walk-the-walk.”

The VNWC began in 1926 when  Mrs. Albee, wife of the world renowned  surgeon Dr. Fred  Albee, along with Mrs. Kehr Higel co-founded and presided over the  first VNWC.  Our Downtown Library, currently under construction, came out of the efforts of the VNWC, spearheaded by the Albees in the mid 1900s.

Still today, the Club’s giving touches the lives of the aged, the poor, and families in need within our community.  The Club’s work extends beyond providing the basics. VNWC raises money to fight hunger and provide clothing  and shelter  by supporting such organizations as the Salvation Arm and the Campaign Against Hunger. This year, the VNWC is actively involved in Our Mother’s House and the Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Project taking place October 24-28. Women from all walks of lifewill join together to build a home in North Port.  For details , call Ann at 941-412-7639.

VNWC supports academic success and awards scholarships to students at Venice High School and Suncoast Community College.  The Club is also aware that those most vulnerable in our community are the mentally challenged who, in an era of constant cut-backs to social programs, need urgent financial support.  The Loveland Center is a perfect example.

Many may not be aware that the VNWC is also involved in many community events, and the woman members volunteer to lend a hand when needed.  The VNWC participates in the annual Downtown Venice Christmas in July event organized by Venice MainStreet, the VABI Tree Lighting ceremony, and the Venice Holiday Parade.  The VNWC has raised over $7,000 during the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The women in the VNWC carry on the legacy of the Club’s founders by participating in a variety of Venice and Nokomis events, and by donating thousands of dollars each year to local charities and non-profit organizations. Following in their predecessors footsteps, today’s members continue to give back and pay it forward in order to fulfill their mission to: Preserve the Past…Enjoy the Present…Plan for the future…

Answer:  Venice-Nokomis Women’s Club

Fun Things To Do in Venice

Venice is a unique small town.  Known as the “City on the Gulf,” it is a destination whereyou can indulge your senses and pamper your soul.  When you meander the Avenues of Miami, Venice and Tampa and take in the sights and sounds of children playing in the Intergenerational Fountain or just sit on one of the many shaded benches and people-watch as you plan the many other things you can do around Venice.

Fun things you can do and more…
1.    Browse the over 100 unique clothing boutiques, art galleries and gift shops.
2.    Dine around the world from Asia and back to the Americas, either indoors or out.
3.    Bring your puppies to Paw Park where all humans and dogs are welcome.
4.    Explore the longest stretch of unspoiled beaches in southwest Florida.
5.    Take your grandchildren and children to the Centennial Park’s Interactive Fountain to cool off.
6.    Expand your cultural experiences and attend a play at the Venice Theatre or grab a beach chair and take in a free concert at the Gazebo or different exhibits at the Venice Art Center.
7.    Walk, ride your bike, or rollerblade from Caspersen Beach to Sarasota on the Venetian Waterway and the Legacy Trail.
8.    Take a walking tour of Venice, historic homes, downtown avenues and the restored Venice Depot.
9.    Go bird watching at the Venice Rookery where a variety of birds make their home.
10.  Enjoy our regular FREE events at the Gazebo:

Friday, October 13 from 7-9pm, Kat and the Rhythm Gators Band
Friday, October 27, 7-9pm, Larry Yunker Band

SPECIAL EVENTS coming up soon:
~  Spooktacular Halloween Parade in downtown Venice:  Tuesday, October 31
Venice MainStreet and Venice Lions Club will once again host the “Children’s Halloween Parade” for kids of all ages, parents, neighbors, visitors and friendly ghosts.  Children, accompanied by an adult, will gather at Centennial Park Gazebo at 4:30pm along West Venice Avenue, behind “Old Betsy” the Venice Fire Truck.  At 5:00pm, children are free to Trick or Treat for more goodies at participating stores along the Avenues.

~  The Blues Crawl:  November 17, 7pm from Miami Avenue to Downtown
This event is an extension of the Venice Blues Festival and a warm up for the festival to be held the next day. This is a free event held to benefit the community.

~ The 5th Annual Venice Blues Festival:  November 18, 12-7pm, at Maxine Barritt Park
The Florida Blues Festivals have a large following and our Venice Blues Festival is no exception attracting visitors from all over.  Local restaurants and community sponsors come together to make this popular annual event memorable.  The Festival showcases internationally renowned talent in the beautiful setting of Maxine Barritt Park.  Last year over 3,000 were in attendance and we are expecting this year will be bigger and better. Tickets may be purchased at

Don’t miss out on the FUN!  We welcome locals and out-of-towners to come and enjoy the music featuring Andrew Jr., Boy Jones, Eliza Neals, Cece, Teneal, Tommy Z and the famous headliner Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio.

VMS Named Main Street of The Month

VMS Named Main Street of The Month

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced today the Venice MainStreet program has been designated the July 2017 Florida Main Street Community of the Month. Communities are selected based on their developmental achievements and participation in the Florida Main Street Program. Venice MainStreet, which started in 1988, has resulted in the development of nearly 1,000 jobs, 300 businesses and 31,000 hours of volunteer support. Remodeling and rehabilitation of the historic downtown buildings resulted in $133.7 million of investment and construction of new compatible structures led to $76.7 million in investment.

“Venice is one of our oldest Main Street organizations and its impact on the community is reflected in all of its great successes,” said Secretary Detzner. “Venice is home to many community events, concerts and fairs, and has become a model for Main Street programs in Florida.”

For more information:

Have you been to Miami lately?

Have you been to Miami lately?

Have You Been to Miami Lately?

Miami Avenue, that is, in downtown Venice.  Whatever your answer, next time you are downtown, or “on the island” as the locals say, start out on Miami Avenue as you work your way to West Venice and Tampa Avenues.  You will find unique little shops carrying everything from fossilized squid to unique fashion.

I recently visited with Don and Draeanne Rivette, owners of a new store, Earth’s Treasures.  It’s a mini museum of natural history filled with, as their sign reads: shark teeth, minerals and crystals, fossils, gators, real insect jewelry and wire wrapping services.  Don is a self-taught geology and paleontology enthusiast and Draeanne “wire wraps” shark teeth into jewelry.  “We sell sharks teeth, but customers can bring us their own finds for me to wrap,” she says.

The store has a little of the Australian outback feel.  As I waited for a break in customer traffic, I spotted a huge shark jaw that took up the entire width of one of the front windows.  Making my way around the store, I find a variety of minerals, such as, agatized coral, which Draeanne tells me is “the official Florida state stone found in Tampa Bay.”  There are healing stones too such as Rose quartz, Malachite and Herkimer diamonds that look like “real” diamonds but are in fact a form of quartz.

You will also find beaded necklaces made of Amethyst, Lapis, Ammonite (petrified nautilus), just to name a few. But the most interesting piece Draeanne shows me is a two-foot by one foot-and-a-half slab of fossilized squid. It looks like black granite squid embedded in a rock solid plate.

Don and Draeanne hope to expand the activities in the store to include presentations by the locals.  For example, author/diver, Robert L. Fuqua, who wrote Fossil Shark Teeth of Venice, Florida is willing to share interesting anecdotes and little known tidbits of his experiences and discoveries.  Drop by Earth’s Treasures and let them walk you through a fun and fascinating world.

And now let’s talk fashion on Miami Avenue.  Venice in Vogue, formerly on West Venice Avenue, as owner Lynn Napieralski rightly calls it, is “A fine fabulous funky boutique.” As you enter the shop, cast your gaze upwards and enjoy the picturesque scenery of parasols hanging from the fifth wall, as the ceiling is often referred to. You cannot help but admire these functional umbrellas, beautifully displayed to show off their colorful artwork. This is the type of item you either treat yourself with or give to the person who has everything. The shop features all a woman needs to dress up or down depending on the occasion. There are no-iron casual dresses and sun-dresses to suit every size and every taste. I found her special occasion dresses, by designer Samuel Dong, feminine and smart.  I can count on the lycra fabric of Dong’s creation to expand or shrink with me, offering superb comfort while looking fine and fabulous.  The selection of ZAND Amsterdam reversible 4-in-1 skirts with a matching purse are a must-have for any wardrobe.

My favorite pieces, though, were the easy to wear silk tops made in Italy. Some are white-on-white or sky blue, each accessorized with lace trim or embroidered silk. I promised myself I would come back to the shop and purchase at least one of the tops.

Need a pair of stylish yet comfortable shoes? The multi-colored offerings are unique and whimsical, with a feminine style.  As the interview was coming to a close, I scanned the jewelry section and a leather and pearl necklace caught my eye. Lynn explained that, “It is made by a local artist, Claudia Bowers, and that it can transform into a bracelet or anklet.”

When asked how she approaches her customers when they come into her shop, she quickly responds, “I treat them as I want to be treated, with respect.  I offer a friendly greeting and personal assistance when someone asks for help.  I love helping a woman find what fits her body and personality.”

So, whether you have or haven’t been to the Avenue of Miami lately, give yourself the experience of Earth’s Treasures and the fashion of Venice in Vogue where cash purchases get you a 10% discount any day.  Happy shopping!

Made in Italy

Made in Italy

Made in Italy, a restaurant located near the entrance to downtown Venice, has new owners.  I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Rachel, Andrea and Hector, three of the managing partners, for what I thought would be a typical interview.

We sat in the Martini Bar area, one of four dining rooms available.  The room has a bit of the Miami Chic vibe with music from about 9:00pm attracting vacationers, locals and young professionals.  The other three dining areas are: the outside café surrounded by local fauna, an inside family style dining room where their Pizza-by-the-yard in baked in a wood-burning oven, and for a laid-back or trendy backyard feel there is the Garden area at the back of the restaurant often used for catered affairs.

“What is new and what has stayed the same on the menu?” I ask.
Andrea, who is from Florence, is happy to talk about the food.  “Our Chef, Gustavo, was trained by the original owners and so our menu has stayed the same like the favorite Made in Italy antipasto –sautéed rapini, eggplant, marinated zucchini with mixed bell peppers, capers and olives. Customers can look for additional new dishes on our “Specials” board, which changes daily.”  Hector says that, “Some regulars have taken to just ordering from the board knowing Chef Gustavo is in the kitchen.  Everything is fresh and local even our fish and seafood.  Our desserts, as well as our bread, pasta and pizza dough are all homemade by us from imported finely milled flour.”

Soon the manager of the restaurant, Brian, came over.  It felt as though another “family” member came to sit at the table.  Within seconds an antipasto of Tronchetti was placed in front of me to taste – a baked brie wrapped with prosciutto topped with arugula and sliced mushrooms and a balsamic drizzle.  It was the perfect blend of flavors.  A must try.

Brian then called over Jon, the bar manager, who made sure to tell me that, by popular demand, ‘Happy Hour’ has been extended from 11am -7pm.  He described a favorite drink at the bar – Pineapple Upside-Down Cake made with fresh pineapple, infused Vanilla Vodka, and just a touch of Grenadine.  “Or ask Antonio, one of our bar tenders to make you his special Espresso Martini,” he said.  I didn’t ask what was in it, since I already knew I would come back and try it.

They have their own special house wine, not available in stores and made exclusively for Made in Italy, called Super Tuscan as well as other premium wines, with the lowest sulfites available and premium beers, which are organic and Eco friendly. “Customers can sit at the bar and order from the full restaurant menu or from the ‘Cichetti’ menu – that has a variety of Italian style tapas,” Jon says as he goes off to greet a customer.

As I was about to wrap up the interview, another waiter arrives with three of their homemade desserts – cannoli with their homemade ricotta filling, tiramisu`, my favorite, and a cheesecake made with mascarpone cheese, which makes it creamy and beautifully textured.

Before leaving, I asked Rachel to sum up what Made in Italy was all about.  She said without hesitation “premium service, top of the line fresh quality ingredients and a full homemade Italian family experience.”

There is something for everyone at Made in Italy and soon there will be more – a new catering menu on or off site and an on-line ordering webpage.

Arrivederci! Made in Italy.

A Community Treasure Marks Its 70th Anniversary

A Community Treasure Marks Its 70th Anniversary

The entire Venice MainStreet family congratulates the Venice Lions Club on their 70th Anniversary. Since 1947 this service club, one of the first in our community, has been providing needed services, mainly

focused on those needy citizens who have issues with their sight.

Venice Lions hold a monthly clinic where those in need receive primary health screening, diabetes blood sugar testing, a complete vision screening, a thorough hearing test plus free glasses, free hearing aids, even free eye surgery if needed. They collect about 24,000 used eyeglasses in our area which are then cleaned, calibrated and sent to underdeveloped countries for distribution to those in need. Hearing aids are also collected, and brand new state-of-the-art hearing aids are fitted to those in need. These free services are provided by this 52-member club.

But wait, there are more reasons Venice MainStreet is excited about the Venice Lions.

Every Spring for years, along with Venice MainStreet, the Venice Lions Club has managed the wildly popular Easter Eggstravaganza at the Gazebo. Some 7,000 eggs are distributed, some with prizes, some with toys, some with candy. Children line up an hour ahead of time for this annual event. Mark your calendars for April 15th for this year’s Eggstravaganza!

Then, in the Fall, ghosts and goblins roam downtown Venice in the annual Halloween Parade, which the Venice Lions have hosted since its inception. This gala parade features hundreds of kids dressed up in their best costumes, accompanied by costumed adults – all to the delight of hundreds of watching parents and grandparents.

These events contribute to the wonderful community atmosphere that characterizes Venice, a great place to live, work, play and shop.

There is another service the Lions provide that makes Venice the wonderful town it is — for 68 years the Venice Lions Club has sponsored a Little League team. Once a year, on Opening Day, club members work the concession stand at the Little League park so that parents of the players can attend the festivities.

Add a regular Waterway Clean-Up, the popular Shark Tooth Scramble at the Shark Tooth Festival, and you have a vital, valuable and respected community service organization.

So, Venice MainStreet salutes Venice Lions Club for 70 years of service – and we look forward to more from this dedicated group of citizens in the future.

For more information on the Venice Lions Club visit

VMS & VHI to Be Recognized

VMS & VHI to Be Recognized

Venice MainStreet and Venice Heritage Inc will be recognized by the History and Preservation Coalition of Sarasota County at an Awards Luncheon on Saturday, February 25th.

At its first Awards Luncheon, the Coalition will recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the preservation and understanding of Sarasota County’s prehistoric and historical resources. Besides honoring those who have devoted themselves to maintaining the integrity of our remaining architectural, archaeological, and historical assets and educating the public to their importance, the Heritage Awards aim to raise the level of public support for governmental and citizen-based efforts to preserve our common past so future generations may learn from it.

Venice Heritage Inc and Venice MainStreet have been awarded the Public Education Award for their joint project to install sign toppers on city street posts to identify the “John Nolen Plan of Venice Historic District” that was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 8, 2010.

Following are the four award categories that will be presented on February 25th:
HISTORICAL RESEARCH: Contributions through research and publication to increase knowledge of Sarasota County’s past.
PUBLIC EDUCATION: Programs or individual efforts to inform the public about Sarasota County’s history and its significance.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONSERVANCY: Work to preserve and document prehistoric sites and/or effective advocacy of archaeological conservation.
HISTORIC PRESERVATION: Efforts to preserve historical sites and/or effective advocacy of historical preservation efforts in the county.

John Nolen planned Venice in 1926. Staying true to that plan has helped Venice maintain its charm and livability. Erin Silk, Executive Director of Venice MainStreet said, “Venice MainStreet is proud to partner with Venice Heritage Inc on this project. The sign toppers have been a nice addition to our community, showing the pride we have for the John Nolen Plan, which sets us apart from other communities.”



Venice MainStreet, Inc. is a community and volunteer driven 501c3 nonprofit organization committed to the mission of promoting economic vitality, historic preservation and beautification, and enhancement of the character of our Historic Downtown Venice community.

In support of that mission, Venice MainStreet, along with the help of supporting grants from Visit Florida, the Ehrhart Family Foundation and our advertising partners, has installed a mural entitled “Venice Is” at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) sharing all the various amenities Venice has to offer visitors and the community.

At the dimension of seven (7) feet in height and eighty-five (85) feet in length, the “Venice Is” mural is displayed prominently in the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport Baggage Claim area, number 2.

Sarasota International Airport reports serving more than 1.3 Million air travelers yearly. Enticing those travelers to visit our historic downtown Venice will have great economic impact on the community at large. Venice MainStreet is proud to have the opportunity to present “Venice Is” to such a diverse and enthusiastic group of regional travelers.

If you would like more information about our project, please contact Erin Silk, Executive Director
at Venice MainStreet, Inc. Email

2016 Children’s Art Show Winners

2016 Children’s Art Show Winners

Each year the November Art Festival hosts a Children’s Art Show. Chaired by the very dedicated and hardworking Sister Maureen of Stillpoint Studios (, area students display their artwork for a chance to win the show. We are proud to announce the winners here. Congratulations to all our talented local students.

November 5-6, 2016

BEST OF SHOW MacKenzie Reiss, Venice High School
PEOPLES CHOICE MacKenzie Reiss, Venice High School

1st PLACE Rylee McEachin, North Port High School
Zachary Kralik, North Port High School
Paola Angeles Lopez, Venice High School
2nd PLACE Madison Miller, Pine View High School
Giavanna Bassi, Venice High School
Evianna Gianopoulas, Pine View High School

1st PLACE McKayla Cantrell, Epiphany Catholic Middle School
2nd PLACE Jacob Hyer, Student Leadership Academy

1st PLACE Austin Maksimowicz, Venice Elementary School
Xkye Cordero, Venice Elementary School
2nd PLACE Lily Fessenden, Venice Elementary School
Olivia Whittaker, Venice Elementary School

Hnat Ho, Venice High School
Davidson Jean, Baptiste North Port High School
Elena Jones, Laurel-Nokomis Middle School
Samantha Lippencoff, Laurel-Nokomis Middle School

The Peoples’ Choice award is new and was made possible by a sponsor from out of state,
Jim Morog. 242 people voted.

Venice Elementary
Venice High
Laurel-Nokomis Middle
Taylor Ranch
Epiphany Cathedral
North Port High
Heron Creek Middle
Pine View High
Student Leadership Academy