Greetings from New CEO, Kara Morgan

Greetings from New CEO, Kara Morgan

Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure and excitement that I extend this greeting to you and recognized the privilege I have been given to serve as the Chief Executive Officer of Venice MainStreet. MainStreet is proud to have served our community since 1987, and has rapidly met the growing needs of the community through high quality marketing, special projects, and preservation efforts. It has become a leader in the State of Florida Main Street Districts. For these reasons, and my passion for Venice as a resident for four years, I am thrilled to be joining this team.

The work done by Venice MainStreet, its partners, and friends has impact. As we get to know one another, I will demonstrate that the work we now share is not only professional, but also personal. Preservation and beautification of historic downtown Venice are critical to the character and vitality of this area. These assets, which lie at the heart of our mission are critical tools for remaining a destination, place of business, and home.  

As part of our commitment to our community, and with the help and support of our staff, board of directors and volunteers, we continue to expand our services, receive numerous accolades and recognitions. Although Venice MainStreet appreciates these awards, we are most honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve the community.

Our focus now is to continue to distinguish historic downtown Venice as a leader in the MainStreet community. We’re committed to continuously search for new ways to improve our quality and make Venice the best place for visitors, residents, and business owners to live, work and play. On behalf of your Venice MainStreet staff, I extend our sincere thanks for all your support. This is a proud day for me and I look forward to learning from all of you and working alongside you.


Kara Morgan
Chief Executive Officer
Venice MainStreet, Inc.

Summer Events are Starting to Heat Up

Summer Events are Starting to Heat Up

The 27th Annual Downtown Venice Craft Festival will be on Saturday, June 15th and Sunday, June 16th from 10am-4pm. Located in Historic Downtown Venice, this event follows the popular March Art Classic. Some of the nation’s best crafters will converge along Miami Avenue, one of Venice’s popular downtown streets. Peruse booths filled with stained glass, photography, personalized products for both children and dogs alike, and much more! Stroll the Green Market for plants, handmade soaps, tangy BBQ sauces and live orchids.
Back by popular demand, the 2nd Annual Barstool Open will take place Saturday, June 29, 2019. Put on your knickers and your golf shirts and get ready to putt your way through Historic Downtown Venice! Teams of 2 or 4 will putt-putt through 9+ fun holes in their favorite downtown spots while participating in wacky competitions and enjoying great specials. We’re adding more holes, more games and tons of great prizes! The cost is $20 per person which includes 2 complimentary beer vouchers. You must be 21 or older to participate in this event.
Tickets for the Barstool Open can be purchased at If you prefer not to purchase online, you can also purchase tickets at the Venice MainStreet office located at 101 West Venice Ave, Suite 23.
Come July, you can forget your stresses and get in the spirit at the Downtown Venice “Christmas in July” event on July 19th and 20th from 10am-5pm. Get a jump on your Christmas shopping while you catch Santa and Mrs. Claus riding the trolley and visiting the shops. Attendees can ride the trolley on both days from 11am to 4pm. We will also be raffling off large gift baskets and you can pick up your free raffle tickets at many of the participating downtown businesses. The raffle drawing will be done on Tuesday, July 23rd and winners will be contacted at that time.
For more information on any of these great events, visit our website:, email us at, or find us on Facebook @VeniceMainStreet.

Loveland Center Expands ADT Program

Loveland Center Expands ADT Program

Almost 60 years ago in 1962, a group of parents in the Venice area sought to be the voice for children with disabilities and advocate for educational and community services. That was the beginning the organization known as the Loveland Center. Today, the Loveland Center, located at 157 S Havana Road, includes a planned residential community tailored specifically for adults with developmental disabilities and programs such as The Supported Employment and Adult Day Training.

A major program of the Loveland center, the Adult Day Training, has expanded tremendously and now offers 31 unique classes for individuals to choose from, including gardening, news and cooking. The goal of the ADT Program is to strengthen the participants’ daily life in ways including communication and social skills. The program also strives to improve independence, decision making and self-advocacy. Participants are able to fully customize their schedules by choosing classes and experiential learning opportunities that interest them and help to achieve their personal goals. To further enhance the learning experience, each class has unique community integration opportunities.

One of the opportunities offered by Loveland’s Adult Day Training Program is a cooking class. Participants begin by browsing through grocery store circulars to see what items are on sale that week. They make their shopping lists based off the sale items and the amount of money they have to spend. The community integration opportunity in this class comes when the group actually takes a trip to Publix to shop for their ingredients before coming back to the Loveland campus to further learn about the cooking process.

To learn more about Loveland Center and their Adult Day Training Program, please visit or call 941-493-0016. Stay up-to-date with the Loveland Center by following them on

Crate & Marrow is Striving for Healthier Pets

Crate & Marrow is Striving for Healthier Pets

Owners Sean Julian and Karen Quillen opened their first location of Crate & Marrow almost five years ago in Charlottesville, Virginia, after an extensive 20+ years in dog training. After moving to Venice last year, they saw a need in town for a second location and opened up shop on West Miami Avenue.
Crate & Marrow offers a wide array of dog and cat products, including food, treats, toys, shampoo, cleaning products, supplements and handmade collars. They pride themselves on selling mostly organic and all-natural products and make their own cookie treats.
“Shopping for pet food can be overwhelming and misleading,” said Quillen. A majority of the well-known dog food brands on the market contain chemicals and glyphosate. “I believe that a real food diet is important. Feeding raw is easier than you think and could mean a longer lifespan for your pet.”
A raw diet, including real bone, is a good source of minerals for dogs, especially calcium and phosphorus. “Adding some sweet potato […] or a premade meal mixer can help stretch your meat and make feeding raw a more affordable option.” Crate & Marrow stocks various meal mixers, as well as beef bones, turkey necks and chicken and duck feet. In February, Crate & Marrow hosted a Raw and Cooked Food Workshop in which they made a small demonstration and answered questions from attendees. “People come to us looking for information and we offer them transformation,” said Quillen. They plan to host another Workshop in mid-April.
Dogs that eat a poor diet have “sweet blood” from all the unnatural additives in most dry foods, which attracts parasites like fleas and ticks. A real food and raw diet also benefits an animal by preventing tooth decay.
Crate & Marrow is located at 235 W Miami Ave in Venice and is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm. Call the store at 941-218-6770 for more information or visit them on Facebook. If you’ve found a product you love but are headed back home for the summer, don’t fret – Crate & Marrow also offers shipping! Visit their website,, for product listings and information about shipping.


Greetings from New CEO, Kara Morgan

Call to Artist: Historic Downtown Interactive Mural

Venice MainStreet, Inc. is holding a contest for an interactive mural in Historic Downtown Venice. The mural will be located predominately downtown for hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors to see. Work must be completed by June 14, 2019. A Visit Florida grant will pay for a portion of this project.

Purpose:  To create an interactive mural that encourages people to take a picture with the image and share on social media. It must fit in with the ambiance of Historic Downtown Venice and advertise Venice, FL.
Theme: “3-D action image fitting to Venice in the time period of 1920s and the 1930s”


  • The wall is located at 303 W Venice Avenue Venice, FL 34285. The total wall space is 25’ by 7.5’. The entire wall does not need to be used for the mural. Because of the road location a space of 13’ by 7.5’ can be captured within one picture. The area would allow for up to two photo ops. See the attached diagram.
  • Concept and this completed form must be delivered to the Venice MainStreet office (101 W Venice Ave #23 Venice, FL 34285) by March 29, 2019
  • Concept should include details on scope of pay, maintenance expectations, artist bio with images of past work and the materials to be used.
  • A committee will choose the winning artwork by April 5, 2019
  • Once approved by the City of Venice work can begin. All work must be complete and billed to Venice MainStreet by June 10, 2019.

Artist Information:





Entry Title:_________________________________________________________

Cost to produce: ____________________________________________________

Materials to be provided by Venice MainStreet: ___________________________


Release:  If the design I have submitted is selected as the winning entry, Venice MainStreet has the exclusive right to reproduce, sell and distribute images of the work.

Venice MainStreet, a Brief History and Overview

Venice MainStreet, a Brief History and Overview

As we look ahead at the future of Downtown Venice, it is important to remember our past. In 1987, the Downtown Venice Association, a merchant’s organization, formed a non-profit corporation, Venice Main Street Association, enabling them to apply for the Florida Main Street Program. Venice City Council committed to contributing $15,000 per year in support for three years if Venice was accepted into the Florida Main Street program. In March 1988, Venice was chosen as a Florida Main Street City and selected its first Main Street manager. Today Venice MainStreet celebrates 32 years as an accredited Main Street program.

Florida Main Street is an assistance program administered by the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, and Florida Department of State focusing on traditional historic commercial corridors. The Bureau conducts statewide programs aimed at identifying, evaluating and preserving Florida’s historic resources. Main Street, with its emphasis on preservation, has proven to be an effective strategy in achieving these goals in Florida’s historic retail districts. In the past, the word “downtown” brought to mind an image of a bustling center of commerce and activity. Too often, however, many small Florida downtown districts provided images of vacant, deteriorating buildings and struggling businesses. Communities have now discovered that with help from Florida Main Street, downtowns can thrive again. Venice MainStreet strives to develop and maintain strong relationships with its Business and Community Partners. Downtown Venice is testimony to the success of these relationships and the importance of common goals.

Today, Venice MainStreet is a volunteer driven non-profit dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in our Venice community. Venice MainStreet strives to collaborate with the City of Venice and other community groups to preserve and enhance the historic character, while also promoting and encouraging the economic and community vitality of Historic Downtown Venice. This goal is achieved by bringing engaging and entertaining events attracting visitors and enhancing the lifestyle of our local residents, and also investing in amenities, marketing and infrastructure for Historic Downtown Venice. To learn more about Venice MainStreet find us on Facebook or go to

Downtown Beautification – Here’s the latest

Downtown Beautification – Here’s the latest

By Jennifer Dorning
January 10, 2019

The Venice Beautification Project is moving forward in full force! Over the holidays the contractor opened all areas of downtown while the crews took a much-needed break and spent time with their families.

Crews continue installing landscaping and pavers on West Venice and Miami Avenues with the streets and sidewalks open. Some single lane closures may be needed for crews to safely do this work. All the major parking lots are open and on-street parking not effected by the current work is open. For now, the majority of streets received only one layer of asphalt due to heavy equipment and trucks that still need to drive on it, which could cause damage. At the end of the project, the contractor will return to install the final layer of asphalt on all streets except for eastbound West Venice Avenue which was paved with full depth asphalt.

Last week work began on the 200 and 300 blocks of Tampa Avenue (between Nokomis Ave. and Harbor Dr.) and Nassau Street (north of W. Venice Ave.). Tampa Avenue is currently closed from St. Augustine Street to Nassau Street and is open to LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY from Nassau Street to Harbor Drive to allow access to the post office and business parking. To complete the work on Tampa Avenue, scheduled for January 16th, St. Augustine Avenue will temporarily return to a two-way street so that customers can access the KMI Building/Venice Centre Mall from the parking lot on St. Augustine Avenue. Harbor Drive will remain open throughout the project.

The contractor will be completing underground drainage work on Nassau Street and Tampa Avenue. No trees are anticipated to be removed from Tampa Avenue at this time. Additional trees are scheduled to be planted to complement the existing trees. Pavers will be added on the 200 block and the sidewalks will be replaced. Crews will also install irrigation and electrical conduit on Tampa Avenue.

On January 3, 2019 a third public meeting was held for this project to provide a project update and to discuss the planned sequence of work for Tampa Avenue. The construction team met with property owners and/or their representatives on Tampa Avenue to discuss individual needs and to coordinate access. The anticipated completion for this work is March 2019. The downtown businesses are open and accessible and there is plenty of parking so please support them. If you have project questions, please contact Jennifer Dorning, Project Public Information Officer at or at (239) 338-7723.

The Gazebo Starlight Cinema

The Gazebo Starlight Cinema

By Michael T. Hartley

I have often marveled at how members of our community come together to enjoy the company of their friends, neighbors, and friends they haven’t yet met at programs held at the gazebo in Centennial Park. The foresight of the City of Venice officials to create this popular resource and enhance it with an earth bermed amphitheater surrounding a traditional Victorian-style gazebo near the popular water park and community restrooms is admirable.

One day I was parked on Tampa Avenue across from the gazebo and I imagined what it would look like if one side of the gazebo was a video projection screen. At that moment I could see dozens of adults and children sitting on folding chairs, on blankets, and just walking by while a family-friendly movie was playing.

As president of the Venice Institute for Performing Arts (VIPA) at the Venice Performing Arts Center (VPAC) I knew that we had the equipment that could be used to create such an event. Further, by rear-projecting video images from inside the gazebo we could overcome some of the problems of traditional outdoor cinemas that have become so popular in other cities, those being the complexity of setting up and securing a blow-up screen and keeping the projection and sound equipment safe from unforeseen weather events.

With this configuration in mind I proposed the idea to the VIPA board and staff and they thought it was worth pursuing. We wanted to make this a free event designed to encourage the citizens of Venice to come together once a month at sundown to have fun and fellowship. We also wanted to use the event to promote the programs at the VPAC, and even the existence of the VPAC since many of our seasonal visitor would not likely know of this fabulous, but mostly hidden, venue for the performing arts on our special island.

As we considered this project we also thought about strategic partnerships. We approached Erin Silk at Venice MainStreet and asked if they might want to collaborate on the development and promotion of the Gazebo Starlight Cinema as any event that prompted people in the area to visit the downtown was clearly in their mission.

The second strategic partnership we considered was with the Interclub Council at Venice High School (VHS) developed by Dr. Shari Valencic. This organization comprised the officers from several dozen clubs at VHS and serves a coordinating function. We thought that members from the various club represented by the Interclub council might wish to provide volunteer service to help setup the cinema each month in exchange for an opportunity for the clubs to promote themselves and their missions and projects to the audiences of the Cinema.

Our first event exceeded our expectations as families and groups of friends gathered with tables, chairs, crockpots, and dishes of food to enjoy a starry evening together. We invite you to join us the first Friday of month next year for a family friendly movie, many of which will be much loved classics. Two exceptions to the schedule will be in February and April. Check the VIPA or VMS Facebook for the most up to date schedule of events.

Give A Gift to Your Community – Shop Local

Give A Gift to Your Community – Shop Local

‘Tis the season for family, friends and holiday gifts. This year make your holiday shopping extra special by supporting a local business while you do it. With over 100 locally owned small businesses Historic Downtown Venice has something unique for everyone on your holiday list. You’ll find great toy stores, ladies and men’s boutiques, home décor and much more!

Today, shopping priorities are shifting towards convenience and savings. Holiday shopping online is tempting. Sites like Amazon make it easy to click and have it at your door the next day. Clicking the mouse may be saving money and time in the short run, however it is costing our community in the long run. It is depriving our community of important tax revenue and denying our local workforce income.

Local businesses mean local jobs that support local families. A study done by the Andersonville Development Corporation of Illinois found that locally owned businesses, retail and restaurant, generate 70% more local economic impact per square foot than chains. If you spend $100 at a locally owned restaurant, $73 is recirculated into the local economy, while spending $100 at a chain produces only $30.

The study concluded, “In every case, the findings have been unequivocal: independents bring substantial benefits to their local economies… The extra dollars in the local economy produce more jobs for residents, extra tax revenues for local governments, more investment in commercial and residential districts, and enhanced support for local nonprofits.”*
In a study closer to home, Venice MainStreet found that annually 44% of the participating downtown businesses give more than $2,000 a year to local charities, with the highest donations up to $25,000 in money, products and services.

Simply put, locally owned businesses create better communities. In a quickly changing retail environment every dollar counts, so let’s give a gift to our community by shopping local this holiday season

*Source: Civic Economics – Andersonville Study of Retail Economics.

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