30th Annual Downtown Venice Art Festival – Official Poster Design Contest

30th Annual Downtown Venice Art Festival – Official Poster Design Contest

30th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest
November 4 & 5, 2017

Official Poster Design Contest

Venice MainStreet, Inc. is holding a contest for the 30th 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 1, 2017.

•    Original (unframed) artwork must be delivered to Collector’s Gallery and Framery (114 South Nokomis Avenue) between September 18 and 5pm September 23, 2017.
•    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 follow a theme of “Celebrating Venice’s Historic Architecture as Venice Turns 90.” (Copy that will be incorporated into the poster/merchandise will include “30th 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.

Artist Information:
City, State, Zip:_________________________________________________________
Entry Title:_____________________________________________________________

Release:  If the design I have submitted to the 2017 (30th 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.

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.

Island Organics

Island Organics

A young entrepreneur with a vision and a background in Integrative Nutrition, Owners Alexa and her mom, Kathy Dippolito founded Island Organics in 2013. Island Organics is Venice’s organic juice bar and café, and is proud to be celebrating its third successful year in downtown Venice.

Island Organics opened their doors in March 2013 offering organic smoothies with super food add-ins, and organic fruit juices, with no sugar added. Over time and with popular demand, the menu expanded to include healthy breakfast and hearty lunch items.

Keeping in line with its mission, Island Organics offers the best quality food in a fast-casual setting. The daughter-mother duo sources local and fair trade, and everything is made in house from scratch. While Alexa thrives on being creative in the kitchen, Kathy prefers the front of the house activities, from meeting and greeting the customers to managing the register.

Alexa shows off her creativity with the baked goods and two daily homemade soups, one vegetarian and one with protein (meat, poultry). Wraps, Paninis, Salads and Quinoa Bowls appeal to a wide clientele, including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian.

At the young age of 13, Alexa developed a passion for healthy eating habits. In June 2013, she and her family moved to Nokomis from Philadelphia. Two things happened right off the bat. First, she went on a scavenger hunt to find a smoothie or organic juice, and came up empty. And second, she had a growing desire to share her knowledge of wise food choices with others.

Alexa explains. “I was always in the kitchen, and had my sights on opening a restaurant offering healthy food choices. I felt that this was crucial for a place like Venice and that’s when the vision was born to open Island Organics.”

They had thought about opening a second location, however when the space next door became available last November, it was the perfect answer to having a larger space. They removed the wall and a seating area emerged for their loyal patrons. Both women agreed, “It was the best thing we could have done. Now people can meet, sit and converse in a comfortable setting.

The open beam ceiling coupled with the exposed brick walls reveal the 100-year old sustainable building. The polished concreted floors and concrete countertops creates a natural feel ambiance. The space is light and airy with large windows looking out on to Miami Avenue. According to one local frequenter, “The personable staff will customize a smoothie, wrap, or sandwich. This place resonates with the feel of a community locale.”

Island Organics has a loyal following and a client base spanning many generations. “I am delighted by how many regulars we have,” Alexa exclaims. “It took a while in the beginning for people to find us, but now we are fortunate to receive a lot of the overflow from the festivals held on Venice Avenue. And we are looking forward to having a booth at the Chalk Festival again as that was a great venue for us.”

The staff of seven, including the owners, serves its customers daily from 9 to 5, Monday through Thursday, and 9 to 4 on Saturdays.  They are closed on Sundays.  The address is 231 Miami Avenue, Venice.

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 www.venicelionsclub.com

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 erin@venicemainstreet.com.



Venice MainStreet is proud to announce and welcome Nick Sperry as Events & Partnership Coordinator for the organization. Sperry will be responsible for organizing and conducting not only Venice MainStreet’s scheduled yearly events, such as, Eggstravaganza, Christmas in July, Children’s Halloween Parade and the Venice Blues Festival, as well as seek to expand Venice MainStreet community partnerships.

Sperry brings with him six years of experience in music production and management from his hometown of Springfield, Illinois, where he studied jazz performance at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield and Western Illinois University. He was talent and stage manager with Downtown Springfield and worked with both regional and national acts. He plans to bring national talent to Venice, not only in the capacity of organizing and booking artists for Venice MainStreet’s annual Venice Blues Festival, but by offering professional acts for other occasions. Nick is a prominent musician in Southwest Florida, as well as a touring musician.

Along with Production Management skills, Nick spent the last year with the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce honing his organizational skills for that local community. “We are excited to have Nick join our team,” says Executive Director, Erin Silk. “He is knowledgeable in creating new and exciting event ideas that bring people, music and joy together. We also look forward to his expertise in increasing relationships with merchants, benefactors and the community at large. We are excited to have him on-staff.”

Since 1987, Venice MainStreet has been a volunteer driven, nonprofit organization working to enhance the quality of life in our community by preserving, protecting and promoting historic downtown Venice. It is part of Main Street AmericaTM, which is made up of people who are passionate advocates, dedicated volunteers, influential stakeholders and community organizers who work every day to turn the tide in their communities – catalyzing reinvestment, creating jobs, and fostering pride of place in our small town communities.

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 (www.stillpointstudiocreatingart.com), 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