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TriMonsters: The Team Sport Any Kid Can Do by Heidi Reslow

Following their first steps, toddlers will soon take off to scampering through the house beginning their lifelong quest to explore every nook and cranny.  Next comes the tricycle to the bicycle stage, complete with scrapes and bruises.  And finally, living in the Sunshine State with water all around, every kid should be able to swim, from a safety standpoint.  And there you have it, the recipe for the TriMonsters Venice Youth Triathlon Team.TriMonsters 2

The TriMonsters’ mission is to educate, inspire and empower youth about the sport of triathlon.  Parents are encouraged to introduce their children to the fastest growing sport in the U.S.  Compared to traditional youth sports like soccer, football, baseball, and basketball, the triathlon offers an individual sport within a team atmosphere.  Kids can practice on their own, on their own time, in their own space. Unlike other team sports, a triathlon is made up of different disciplines, and requires efficiency in many skill sets.

Coach Deb Peters’ credentials are extensive.  She is a USAT Certified Level 1 and Youth & Junior Triathlon Coach.  Peters is a member of ACE - American Council on Exercise, a Certified Personal Trainer, and a Certified Health Coach.  She is also the Florida Regional Youth Coordinator for the USA Triathlon.TriMonsters 1

Focused on family fitness, Peters came up with the idea in 2014 to add youth triathlon in to her DP Fitness adult business.  She placed a little ad in the local paper, and seven kids signed up.  TriMonsters is now going in to their 5th season and were the 2016 Regional Champions.

Peters explains, “Participation in youth triathlons can start a lifelong passion for a multisport lifestyle and healthy living.  We welcome the opportunity for parents to let us teach their children important life skills through the sport of triathlon!”

She continues, “We focus on safety first and always. Although the kids do compete, our priority is on technique and skills.  The kids develop healthy habits, strengthen camaraderie relationships, put their best foot forward, and just plain have fun.”
The great thing about training for and competing in a Triathlon is that people can do this from the time they start as a kid until they are well into retirement age.  Tom Brady may be the greatest quarterback of all time, but how much longer will he appear on the professional field?

So what motivates the kids to come?  Coach Deb will meet a parent out and about in the community, and explain the concept of TriMonsters. The Triathlon is a relatively new sport for kids, and once adults understand what TriMonsters is all about and that it is for kids, the lightbulb goes off, they see the benefit, and enroll their kids. TriMonsters offers a one-time complimentary 1 ½ hour practice, and invites kids to give it a try.  When the newcomers see the other kids swimming, biking and running, they want to join in on the fun and become part of the team.TriMonsters 5

Then the transition occurs, and the kids encourage their parents to start training.  Deb says, “I see this all of the time.  Now more parents are getting involved so that they can experience the same things that their kids are doing.  Just like their kids, the parents learn critical thinking, discipline, goal setting, self-confidence, capacity to push themselves to the next level, and to work their hardest.”

TriMonsters caters to kids aged 5 to 15.  The Trimonsters triathlon season runs from March to September, and kids have the option to participate in four or five triathlons during the season.  Training takes place on the weekend, one day for just 1 ½ hours.  One prerequisite is that the kids have to know how to swim. Safety is a priority, and a lot of focus is on swimming because all of the confidence is built in the water.  Plus, the kids learn all about the tides, meaning of the flag colors, open water safety, and the ocean life.                                                                             

The triathlons are age specific distances.  The 5-10 year olds swim 100 yards, bike 3 miles, and run a half mile.  At age 11, the distance doubles, which presents a new challenge for those aging up.

All of the kids, regardless of their age, have to know what to do without any assistance.  Let me walk you through the event.  You arrive at the venue race in the morning.  You push your bike into transition, all alone, and find your spot.  You set up your bike, lay down your towel, put your shoes and socks there, grab your cap and goggles, and head to the water.  You swim your race distance, exit the water, remove your cap and goggles, and run towards transition, where your bike and shoes are.  As you enter transition you have to find your bike amongst rows of other bikes, sometimes, hundreds.  You find your bike, put your helmet on, grab your bike and push it out of transition, then get on, and off you go.  After completing your ride, you head back to transition, find your spot to re-rack your bike, and then head off running to the finish line. Now imagine, a five year old doing this!  Scary and tough for an adult.  Come out and see for yourself the determination, grit and character of these kids hard at work.  

Deb says, “The kids are so proud when they finish.  No one can take away their accomplishments and their feeling of pride.  Some moms tell me that the kids will not wash off their race number written on their arm for days for it is like a badge of honor.”

Are your kids ready to be part of the sport of Triathlon? Are they ready to learn the team motto: Be Safe! Have Fun! Be Awesome!  To sign up, please call TriMonsters Head Coach, Deb Peters at 813 731 8767.  A phone call is a must, as there are pre-intake questions.  We look forward to teaching you and your children about triathlon!

TriMonsters 4

The Venice Art Walk by Leah Sherman

The Venice Art Walk, birthed in Collectors’ Gallery and Framery inArt Walk Photo 3
downtown Venice, began a third successful season on January 5th
according to Leah Sherman, proprietor of Collectors’ Gallery & Framery.

Sherman attributes the success of the Venice Art Walk to the entire community that comes together for the event. Ten local galleries and artists participated this year including Clyde Butcher Venice Gallery, Island Abstracts, Karen Ann Hitt, Venice Art Center, Stillpoint Studio, Tangi & Jess, Grey Fox Gallery, Nautical Sand Sculptures, and Mary Erickson Fine Paintings.

Sherman attributes her own Gallery’s successful 2018 debut to the support provided by so many.  “The entrepreneurial axiom, ‘customers are golden and should be treated as such’, is true says Sherman but adds that the Gallery’s customers, friends and family are a special kind of “GOLD” due to their commitment and contributions to the Gallery.  

Family members and friends “catered” the first event, making and serving many tasty munchies and beverages for Gallery visitors to enjoy. Different regional artists are featured in Collectors’ Gallery each month and are frequently hosted while in Venice by Gallery patrons.  

Especially generous in welcoming visiting artists into their Venice homes during Art Walk have been Bea Holt and Larry and Tracy Ivey who will host Mai Yap for the upcoming February 1 Art Walk. “There are already collectors of Mai’s work in Venice and there is no doubt that her appearance this season will garner her many more”, according to Sherman.

The March 1 Art Walk will find the work of the Florida Highwaymen featured in Collectors’ Gallery.  “The art of generous local collectors will be on loan to the Gallery and displayed during the Art Walk,” says Sherman.

On April 5, the last Art Walk for the season Collectors’ Gallery will feature the work of local artist, Deb Wicks whose expressive, contemporary style is refreshing and a crowd pleaser!

The Venice Art Walk is held on the first Thursday of each month, January through April.

Below are featured two paintings by Yap.  (top) Meditations #40, Palette Knife oil on Canvas and (bottom) Cloudscape #36, Palette Knife oil on CanvasPhoto

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The Story Behind the Brush by Heidi Reslow

The walls of An Original Hitt, Fine Art and Atelier, literally paint the story of nationally acclaimed artist, Karen Ann Hitt.  Referred to KAH 2as her Miracle Studio, it is indeed a working studio.  Her door signage reads, If not in, gone painting.  If she and her husband are not taking the road less traveled around the states, then you can find her in the studio, donning her paint-splattered wardrobe: jeans with a matching long vest, working Cowboy boots, and Cowboy hat atop her long flowing radiant curls.

As a child she would do anything to stay home and take summer art classes in lieu of partaking in family vacations.  She only wanted to paint, and subsequently submit her artwork in to local shows in her native Columbus, Ohio.  Even today she delights in being a judge for the annual children’s art festivals in Venice, and gives a big thank you and shout out to Sister Maureen of Still Point Studio.  

She arrived in Florida in 1975 where her family settled on the other coast, and she attended high school in Ft Lauderdale.  While she took classes at the Vo Tech, she asked the teacher where she should go to college.  The teacher gave her only one response, Parsons School of Design in New York, and that was it.  She applied, was accepted and would later major in illustration.

In the mid-90’s, she moved to Venice, became a single mom, and raised her three children here.  In 2015 she married her soulmate and together they spend many months of the year traversing the USA in their dream home-away-from-home on wheels.  She paints and he hikes.

Her photos are captured on a nearby laptop for easy display and reference.  Blank canvases and canvases in various stages hang from a wall-sized easel where she stands, brushes in hand, and lets her vision come to life.  She explains, “A photograph cannot read everything that the human eye can read.  But a painting shows more of the At that moment… experience”.

     The open air ‘Plein Air’ work (painting on location outside) is an essential resource for many Studio Works.  Oils are her preferred medium of choice, and she does paint with acrylics and watercolors too.  From a still life to a landscape, from a single palm tree to a beach scene, or a town view, each work tells a story.


KAH 1   One of my personal favorites is Artist Studio Life with Lemon and Blues Choices. Created in 2014, this oil on linen was featured in ine Art Connoisseur.  The artist incorporated three of her other paintings into background of this painting, along with a still life of a glass jar of honey, lemons, and berries.  Her inspiration came from lemon-like and bluesy news which she transformed in to a work of art.  The jar of honey was provided by local bee keeper, Ron Goulet.  He even gave her a dead bee that had stung him that day. The heart-shaped rock depicted in the lower right-hand corner was found as she stepped out of her vehicle to paint along the Merced River on the way to Yosemite National Park.


   Karen Ann has long been known for her portraits of children and still paints them today.  Mary Lou Dunn-Rankin, says, "One of our most treasured possessions is the portrait Karen painted of our children when they were small.  She painted the portrait from a candid photo she took of them reading together, and it really captures their personalities. 

 As the artist explains, “When you paint kids, it is from photos, therefore you spend time in the studio by yourself painting.  While I enjoy doing portraits, I told myself that I need to get out more, and so I do just that.” 

Founder of Venice Plein Air Group, she thrives on being outside, taking in the scenery, and making it come to life on the canvas.  As this article was being penned, Karen Ann was working on A New Day Dawning, the view of a sunrise on the Intracoastal Waterway in Venice.  Presently, Karen Ann is compiling her studio paintings for Women’s Impressions group exhibit opening on January 17, 2018 at Hughes Gallery in Boca Grande, FL. The Opening Reception is scheduled for January 17 at 5pm.  

 She shares, “One of the things I learned while studying at college in NYC, is the importance of supporting your neighborhood.  Because I quickly learned that if I want things to stay nice and appreciate what I love about my neighborhood, then I have to support my neighborhood and the local merchants, or they won’t be there in the future.”  An active participant in Venice’s local art walks, Karen Ann buys the wine she serves from Venice Wine & Coffee, and passes out their business cards because she wants them to succeed and to always be there to supply the wine for her events.  And if you want to support your local artists, come on down to An Original Hitt…and support the neighborhood.

      The hours of An Original Hitt – Fine Art & Atelier, are not set, and appointments are always welcome.  It is worth a visit if nothing more than to find the actual bumblebee that is still on hand as a model in her gallery located at 230 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Venice. Tel # (941) 586-0287

The Gift of Time, for Yourself by Heidi Reslow

   All the money in the world cannot buy one more day on this great Earth of ours. And only You can take care of You. So now is the time for you to pay attention to your body from head to toe. Now is the time to discover your unique body type and how you were created to be. Now is the time to gain a sense of well-being and feel true inner peace. Now is the time to develop a deep connection within yourself.  Now is the time to learn how to balance the pace of your life with a new way of living and being.  Isn’t it time to treat your health as an investment, and not as an expense?

    Annette Broy, Owner of Dragonfly Ayurveda and Yoga, has designed the Dragonfly 60 Day Transform Your Life Program. Annette is a Registered Nurse, Certified Case Manager, Yoga Alliance 500 hr Yoga Instructor, International Certified Yoga Therapist, and National Ayurvedic Medical Association Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner.Dragonfly Photo a

    Annette describes the program as, “A complete lifestyle and wellness makeover that treats the body as a tripartite being, made up of the body, mind and spirit. The program incorporates the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda and yogic principles combined with modern knowledge for a radical life transformation.”

    A primary component of this health-focused program (not weight- focused) will be to discover your specific make-up. Noodle on that for a minute. You will learn how to honor your unique body type, and you will receive a customized program to meet your specific needs.  The ultimate goal is to feel more balanced - physically, mentally and spiritually.
This will be accomplished through the Ancient Wisdom (Ayurvedic) Principles to sync the body in line with the earth’s natural rhythms.

    Questionnaires will be used to determine your original makeup, and to bring you back to balance to your true nature. One set of questions is focused on pre-puberty, and your likes / dislikes to hone in on your personality type. The second set of questions pertains to how you are today, your body type, build, and any chronic illnesses you may be experiencing. Character exercises will be given to see how you responded to situations as a child versus how you respond now as an adult.
    Maybe it’s time for you to incorporate famed motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar’s motto, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”, and embark on the Dragonfly Transformation Program.  Annette explains, “It is a truly doable, life changing experience. Attendees will develop a deep sense of inner awareness to make better life choices. I want everyone to come away with a common sense approach to live authentically and lead an optimal life. This program is for people who are committed to making a radical transformation of their health. Anyone can do this, including vegans, vegetarians, meat-eaters, and even those with diabetes.”

    Which category do you fall in to: Eat to Live or Live to Eat? Do your sweet tooth taste buds trump your willpower for healthy snacks?  It’s a given – we all have to feed our bodies.  But we also have to nourish our mind and spirit. Take the time to dedicate 60 days to yourself and learn how to customize food, physical activity, and daily living according to your unique makeup.  

    In this program, you will learn how to revamp your nutritional intake to make choices for the foods that are right for your body. You will explore spirituality to lead a balanced and more fulfilling life, regardless of your spiritual beliefs. And you will receive unlimited access to all yoga classes at Dragonfly for the entire 60-day program. The ultimate goal is for you to gain empowerment over your life.Dragonfly Photo b

    The 60-day program kicks off on Saturday January 13, 2017 from 9:00am to 2:00pm, and continues for 8 consecutive Tuesdays from 5:30pm to 8:00pm, beginning January 16 through March 13. Lunch will be served at the kickoff meeting and dinner will be served on all Tuesday evening meetings. All meetings will take place at the Dragonfly Studio located at 439 Tamiami Trail South, #202.

    Participants will receive the following:
•    Products, supplements, herbs and super greens to get you started on your new life
•    3-day supply of Kitchari cleanse supplies (rice, beans and herbs)
•    Daily routine products: Neti pot, Nasal oil, Tongue scraper, Body Brush, Personal body oil (ahbyanga oil)
•    Transform Your Life book, Dragonfly Journal, personalized Food Guide with recipes
•    Weekly Tuesday evening meetings, including a meal, cooking demonstrations, and educational talks on how to incorporate healthy habits in to your daily wellness routine
•    Daily Access to online private Facebook Support Group to ensure success and find inspiration throughout your journey
•    Unlimited access to all yoga classes at Dragonfly during 60 days

Are you ready to give yourself the Gift of Time?
To register, go to or call the studio at (941) 222-0777

Hammocks, Chairs, and a Beach Load of Fun-itures! by Heidi Reslow

     When Mark and Laura arrived in Venice, their mouths dropped at the sight of the palm trees lining the avenues of the City on the Gulf.  As they took in the sights and sounds of the area, they realized no one was selling hammocks, and the light bulb went off.  Mark explains excitedly, “We looked at each other and said let’s sell hammocks in paradise.”  Since that vision, his goal has been to sell a hammock a day, and he has pretty much met that goal since opening Island Life Hammock Co. three years ago.

     Island Life Hammock Photo 6
     This boutique store offers hammocks from all over the world.  One being Pawley’s Island hammock which was created over 125 years ago.  Pawley’s set the standard for the original American hammock.  In fact they are so well made, the duracord part of the hammock is animal-resistant; squirrels and their furry cousins do not like the taste.  Plus Mark tells of one American-made hammock that was hung on a Banyan tree on the Island.  Unfortunately, Irma toppled the tree, but the hammock did not sustain any damage from the 110 mph winds and was able to be re-hung.

     Another type are the Brazilian Hammocks which are named after famous beaches such as Jericoacoara, Maharaja, and Impanema.  “In fact,” Mark exclaims, “I sold one to a lady who came to the shop, and she was actually from Impanema. But I am just waiting,” he continues, “to sell one to Robert Plant, former lead singer of Led Zeppelin.  The day he comes in to buy one, I can say: mission accomplished.”

     The couple just recently updated their website, and they do a fair amount of business just from the website.  But foot traffic is always the best for as Mark says, “The magic happens in the shop, and we truly have the nicest customers, whether they are the locals who support our business or the seasonal visitors.  We just enjoy helping our customers furnish their little slice of paradise, whether it be here in Venice or elsewhere.”
     Of course we all remember our Dads resting in the typical green canvas hammock on a metal stand after mowing the grass.  Mark wants today’s generation to experience and treasure those same memories of yesteryear.  “Every yard looks great from the hammock’s view.” However, hammocks have come a long way over the years and they aren’t just for outside anymore. Today there are even more styles and varieties to choose from.  Island Life carries hanging chairs and swings that look great in your living room, den, or even the kids’ bedrooms!  Mark will even make local deliveries and assist with proper installation.  And like a bicycle, once you master getting in and out of a hammock, it stays with you forever.

     While Mark’s passion are the hammocks, wife Laura wants our readers to know that their shop offers everything for the home with a beach house flair, all made by local artisans.ILH 4

   ILH 2 She says, “Our shop is more than just a hammock store.  We offer pillows, wall art, jewelry, home decor, and even funky, colorful birdhouses.ILH 3 The old recycled metal art and lit beach signs are very popular.  A top seller are the Real Deal hats and backpacks made from the canvas of trucks and come via way of Brazil. Customers love the old original patches on these tarp hats and bags.”

One visitor stopped to admire the brightly colored Adirondack chairs displayed in front of the store.  After a quick peak inside, she beaconed her husband to come in and check out the variety of wall art.
     The Adirondack Chairs are the perfect gift for Mom or Dad. They have a lifetime warranty and will not split, rot or mildew.  They are UV-protected, and come in an assortment of vibrant colors, including orange, blue, green and teal.  Following a bit of light assembly, your chair is ready for a lifetime of enjoyment. 

So the next time you are meandering the avenues, be sure to stop in and be greeted with a smile by Mark and Laura at Island Life Hammock Co. located in the 300 block on West Venice Avenue.

Venice MainStreet: An Influential Voice for the City on the Gulf by Heidi Reslow

    We have all heard the famous line by Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail…”Don't you think that daisies are the friendliest flowers?"  For all of the people connected to Venice MainSteet - Board of Directors, Business and Community Partners, Downtowners, a slew of volunteers, and the staff – we like to think that Venice MainStreet promotes the friendliest kind of fun on the island.

    The City on the Gulf can’t speak for itself, but the people can.  Throughout its 30-year history, Venice MainStreet (VMS) has set its sight on bringing people to beautiful Historic Downtown Venice to have fun.  From the moment travelers land at Sarasota Airport, they are welcomed with an 85-foot long mural promoting Venice.  

    A robust weekly e-newsletter informs over 10,000 residents and out-of-towners about what’s happening in Venice.  Visitors are greeted with smiles by the all-volunteer Downtowners who operate the Centennial Park Information Kiosk and stroll the avenues.  These cheerful folks act as goodwill ambassadors answering questions, offering directions, and providing tidbits of Venice history and trivia.

    People come from all over to attend the Blues, Seafood, and Arts & Crafts Festivals.  A wide range of musicians entertain residents and visitors with free Friday night concerts held in the Gazebo. Kids of all ages love to partake in the annual Easter Eggstravaganza and Halloween Parade.  Passersby grin from ear to ear as they watch the children squeal with delight as they splash through the Intergenerational Fountain located in Centennial Park.

    Rod Nafziger, incoming President of VMS and The Gelato Maestro at Ciao Gelato, describes Venice MainStreet as the Social Heart of our Community. He says, “Our beauty, culture, shopping, dining and art have created an experience that enlivens the soul.”

VMS An Influential Voice Photo

    The Business Partners and Community Partners who join Venice MainStreet are proud to be a part of a fun organization that promotes, preserves and protects Downtown Historic Venice.  These Friends of VMS are committed to being an integral part of the VMS Family through their annual partnership, contributions, sponsorships, and volunteer efforts.  They find the fun in helping to fund the variety of events organized by Venice MainStreet with their financial support and their hands-on involvement.

    The relationship VMS has with its business partners is reciprocal: VMS brings the people to Venice and the shopkeepers, restaurateurs, and service organizations keep them coming back.  Randy and Lori Kendrick, Owners of Venice Print Center, have been long-time Friends of Venice MainStreet.  When asked about Venice, Randy jumps right in and says, “I grew up in Venice, and for me, this is the best place to live.  Venice has it all: friendly people, community-minded business owners, and an abundance of nature.  We get out and about, and enjoy taking our children and small granddaughters to the beautiful beaches and pristine parks.  Plus, we do our part to help VMS promote a well-rounded schedule of events.  Bringing people together to have fun and enjoy all that Venice has to offer is what matters most.”

    Likewise, the Community Partners who join VMS play a big role in the continuing success of this 501c3 non-profit organization.  They spread the word about all the good things VMS does for the City on the Gulf.  They become engaged and volunteer at the festivals and special events.  Through connecting with other community partners, they expand their friendship circle.
    Being an Influential Voice for the City on the Gulf is a tall order, and Venice MainStreet embraces its responsibility and continues to rise to the challenge.  VMS collaborates with city and county officials, business leaders, and the community as a whole to balance the expanse of business and tourism while maintaining the integrity and feel of John Nolen’s plan for Venice.  The organization has received numerous awards for its best management practices for design, promotion, and economic development enhancing the awareness of this special place we all refer to as
The City on the Gulf.  

    VMS is united with over 2,000 Main Street Organizations across the country, and supports the association’s nationwide mission of historic preservation, community vitality, beautification and economic vitality.  We invite you, The Reader, to become a Friend of Venice MainStreet and join us in our passion and vision to Keep the Magic Alive.  Won’t you do your part to become a Community or Business Partner with Venice MainStreet?  Call us at the VMS Office: 941-484-6722.  You can also visit us at


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.Team KVB Photo for News

    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
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Team KVB Photo 4 Venice Waterway Park Trail

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

What do all these organizations have in common?

VNWC Photo

    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 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

Venice Nokomis Womens Club Ad 2017

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.

Lovin’ Our Locals: Venice Beach Party 2017 by Heidi Reslow

Venice MainStreet would like to extend an invitation to locals, friends, neighbors and visitors to attend a FREE music festival.  Venice Honda and Venice Toyota present Venice Beach Party 2017 to be held on September 23 from 2:45pm-7:45pm on Venice Public Beach.  It is a small token of our appreciation to thank our locals for their support of our small business community.  Whether you visit downtown Venice on a regular basis or come once in a blue moon to this unique downtown, you will not want to miss this a one-of-a-kind event.  So come and enjoy the beach, great food, and music, and experience all those good feelings of being a part of a small town community.Hula Hooper photo
Start the day with lunch at one of our fine restaurants offering unique delectable selections from brick oven pizza to fresh fish and seafood.  Several new international restaurants have recently opened featuring traditional Greek, French, and Turkish menus.  After lunch, drop by one of Venice’s many trendy boutiques where you are sure to find a special trinket or bauble for yourself, your home or souvenirs for your children and grandchildren. The downtown shop owners are always showcasing interesting knickknacks, wardrobe pieces, and whimsical treasures to stir the imagination. And for you people-watchers, there are plenty of benches outside the shops where you can just sit and relax while enjoying a delicious ice cream cone from one of the local soda fountain stops.
So now your taste buds and satisfied and you are all-shopped-out, what next?  Hop the FREE shuttle from the downtown parking lots to Venice Public Beach and be part of the fun at the Venice Beach Party.  

Beach Party Sunset Photo

At the beach parking lot, local businesses will showcase “all things local”.  There will be 7 food vendors, 2 beer wagons, a shark tooth dig, and games in the family fun zone.  Come and enjoy some good food, sip some wine, and enjoy Budweiser beer products sponsored by Gold Coast Eagle.  More beverages are in the works.  Bring your own chair and relax under the shaded tent to listen to the steel drums by Sarasota Steel Pan Band (2:45pm), jam band and classic rock by Kettle of Fish (4:45pm), and beach music by Tropical Ave (6:45pm).

Come join the party - and bring your family and friends.


Thank you to this year’s Venice Beach Party sponsors:  Budweiser, Culligan, Florida Bike & Beach, Gulf Coast Medical Group, PGT, Publix, Sharky’s on the Pier, WaterNative, and the Venice Gondolier Sun.
Important information:
No coolers or pets.

Two shuttles will run the ten minutes loop around the island from 3:00pm-8:30pm.                                             

Check the map.  Signs will alert you to preferred parking.

Beach Party Shuttle Map

Venice on the Island: What’s New on the Menu? by Maria Baskin

There is a restaurant to satisfy everyone’s tastes on the island.  I recently visited two of them:  Bordrum and Popi’s Place on the Isle.

If you want to taste fine TurkBodrum 1ish cuisine you can go to the coast of the Aegean Sea to the city of Bodrum  or  you can make reservation  downtown Venice at the new Turkish restaurant by the same name, Bodrum, located on Miami Avenue.  The restaurant is tucked inside Burgundy Square across from the parking lot on Miami.  Chef-Owner, Ersen Irsel, comes to Venice via New York City where he trained with some of the best Turkish chefs in the industry.  Juliya, his co-owner and lovely, soft-spoken wife of two years, also worked alongside her husband for several years at New York establishments.  

As I waited for the owners to begin the interview, the white and royal blue décor and the crisp white tablecloths gave me the feeling of sitting at a beachside restaurant not on the Aegean coast but our very own Gulf coast.  I asked Ersen, “How is the restaurant doing?”  He hesitated a little and then smiled. “I would rather let my customers speak for the restaurant.   You can read their comments on Trip Advisor.  We are so pleased that they keep coming back.”  I did check and the reviews are great.  Their food is as authentic as they are.  They purchase all the ingredients from local vendors, their meats are grass fed, free range and, whenever possible, organic.  “But the spices and condiments” Ersen tells me, “are all imported from Turkey since they are not available in our area.”

Last Saturday, I invited a couple of friends to try out some of the interesting dishesBodrum 2 on the menu.  We were blown away at how finely prepared and fresh everything is.    I had the “lollipop” lamb chops which were melt-in-your-mouth perfect.  My friend, a vegan, had the Mediterranean Salad with a scoop of hummus on top.  It was light, fresh and delicious.  I regretted not ordering the “Sample Mezze Platter” so that I could have tasted a variety of traditional appetizers –stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh, and baba ghanoush, to name a few.  My husband had the salmon, which he said was prepared to perfection.  Another friend ordered the “Bodrum Kofte Kebab” a char-grilled grass-fed lamb and beef dish.  There was not a morsel left on any of our dishes.  When we left the restaurant, we all agreed Bodrum is a keeper.

A few days later, I sat down with Jay Odem, a former Navy veteran, and Sheryl  Flint, Owners of Popi’s Place on the Isle, a chef-family-owned restaurant where it’s all about American home-style cooking with Greek influence.   

From the moment I shook hands with Jay and Sheryl, I Popi 1felt as though I was being welcomed into their home.  And no wonder, Jay built all the tables and booths and, with Sheryl’s help, gave the restaurant, from floor to ceiling, its easy open down-home feel.   “How does the Greek culture influence your food?”  I ask Sheryl.  “Many years ago, we lived next door to the owner of the original Popi’s Place Greek restaurant.  Once our families got to know each other, we became part of their extended family and that’s when Popi taught Jay how to cook Greek food.   Later, Jay added all-American favorites you see on the menu and the rest is history.”  She hands me a menu and I can’t believe the choices. 

Next time you are hungry and can’t think of what you want to eat, check out Popi’s Place on the Isle.  There are traditional Greek dishes like – gyros, spanakopita, cabbage rolls and homemade, baked in-house desserts like their scrumptious “baklava cheesecake.”   But if that day, Greek food is not doing it for you, you can select from one of their 17 varieties of club sandwiches, meatloaf, biscuits and gravy, and they even offer 13 gluten-free salads.  

My favorite meal to eat out is breakfast-brunch.   At Popi’s on the Isle, you can have their knock-out French toast made with ham-turkey-swiss cheese topped with powdered sugar and raspberry jam!   And don’t forget to add one of their Blackberry Kiss or Lavender infused mimosas or their popular ultimate breakfast/brunch Bloody Mary made with celery, olive and bacon.  But if it’s something else you crave there is a full liquor bar that serves up everything from Italian Prosecco to Greek featured wines to beer - draft, bottle, local and seasonal to Sangrias along with signature cocktails like –Oh My Agave Margarita and Peach Spiked Tea. 

This generous couple also gives back to families and the community as a whole. Any child under the age of twelve and accompanied by an adult customer eats free.  On teacher work-days, Jay and Sheryl send free trays of food to the nearby Venice High School, as a gesture of appreciation and as a way to give back.  

Popi’s Place on the Isle is a family eatery where, not only, are you welcome, but you will feel as though you are eating at your very own Popi’s place.  It is perfect for Venice Foodies or members of HOA groups, dinner or luncheon clubs or golfing buddies. There are many restaurant choices on the Island serving national and international dishes, make sure you put Bodrum and Popi’s Place on the Isle on your must try list.

  Popi 2 

Lovin’ Our Locals: Wine Walk!

   During Season, downtown loves its visitors, but on Thursday, August 17 we will take the time to thank our locals for supporting us all year long.

   In recent months, it is refreshing and exciting to see many new boutiques and restaurants opening up on Tampa, Venice and Miami Avenues.  Plus, Venice Area Beautification, Inc. has dressed up downtown Venice with a mix of flowering potted plants, new shrubbery, and many well placed and cared for baskets hanging off the prominent light posts.Wine Walk Photo 2 2017

   Of course the best thing about the Wine Walk is meeting the many welcoming and easy going personalities of the Avenue Shopkeepers, and learning about their specialties. Anyone who enters Mother’s Cupboard Spice Shoppe located on West Miami Avenue, will become an instant friend of Owner, Suzanne Andrews.  Suzanne is excited for this year’s Wine Walk, and says, “For this year’s Wine Walk, visitors will receive a complimentary recipe book with the tea version of summer coolers. Plus, our visitors will receive tips on combining iced hibiscus and rosehips tea with a hint of orange for the perfect mixer to accompany their preferred spirit.  Sample the alcohol-free version during the Wine Walk.”

   Joyce McCaffrey, Proprietor of Eyes on You located on West Venice Avenue, offers a personalized and professional approach to eyewear selection and custom lingerie fitting. She eagerly boasts, “Historic Downtown Venice is a very special place.  People don’t realize how fortunate we are to have quality dining locales, unique boutiques, and a variety of cultural activities to enjoy.”    
Lynda Krause, Owner of LaBella Interiors located on West Venice Avenue, says, “The Wine Walk is something the participating business establishments want to do for the locals.  People can come and enjoy a fun night out and do a little shopping.  For us, we will be showcasing the latest in window coverings, blinds and so much more.”   

   On Thursday, August 17 at 5:00pm, Wine Walkers can pick up their free wristband at the kiosk in Centennial Park or the breezeway in the Burgundy Square Building on Miami Avenue as well as a list of participating downtown businesses. The first 250 people will receive a special blue Lovin’ Our Locals wristband.  Restaurants will offer specials like buy-one-get-one-free or half price glasses of wine and shops will be offering wine or punch or some other surprising delight.  

   EWine Walk Photo 1 2017ach participating shop or restaurant will be, in its own way, Lovin’ Our Locals. During the event visit these participating businesses Café Venice, Cleopatra’s Bath & Body, DanaTyler, Dick’s Shoes (2 locations), Down Island Way Boutique, Eyes on You, Flynn’s, La Bella Interiors, Made in Italy, Moizelle, Mother’s Cupboard, Nautical Sand Sculptures, Navamaze, Needlefish Yarns, Ristorante San Marco, Shirt Stop, Sirena Island Day Spa, Tarpon Bay Trading Co., TJ Carney’s, Trattoria Da Mino, Venice Avenue Creamery, Venice in Vogue, Venice Olive Oil Company, and Venice Wine & Coffee.

Come & Sail with Venice Youth Boating Association!

The more exposure a student receives in learning how to sail, the better equipped they become to increase their skill level.  Challenging themselves builds their confidence level and keeps them interested in the sailing arena.
The kids sail from Roberts Bay, travel by the Jetty, and head out to the Gulf.  Each child is assigned to a boat, and with that comes the responsibility to care for and perform the proper maintenance on their assigned boat at the end of each session.  VBYA 1a

In April 2017, Tara Foster became the first female Program Director for the organization. She joined VYBA in 2016 as a Coach.  Tara is the perfect complement to VYBA, bringing a wealth of knowledge, innovative ideas, and her love-of-the-water experiences.

Tara has called Florida her home since middle school and graduated from Pine View High School.  A graduate of Denison University, she was an active member of the university’s sailing team as Captain, then Commodore, and finally Alumni Advisor following her graduation with a major in theatre and minor in physics. The VYBA is fortunate to have Tara on board to share her extraordinary talent, skills, sailing knowledge, and experiences.  

She has a sincere passion for helping sailors of all skill levels to gain an in-depth knowledge about sailing.  Building the kids’ confidence level while keeping sailing fun and inviting is a primary goal. She is excited to continue to share her love of the sport and to inspire that passion in others through the VYBA.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have found such a fantastic Youth Sailing Program that cares so deeply about the young sailors from our area. The commitment and dedication of our sailors is a wonderful complement to the time and care put forth by our Board, the community, and all of the Program Parents that help us to participate and be involved in so many aspects of the sailing world. It's truly a gift to be the Program Director and Coach for so many bright, capable kids and I look forward to seeing all that they can offer to the VYBA and the Venice community as they continue to grow through our Program.”    

Blake Dominy, a young, energetic sailor clearly knows the importance of caring for his boat as he carried his assigned vessel to its proper place of storage.  When asked, what he likes best about VYBA, he eagerly responded, “Everything!”


VYBA’s School Year Race Program and School Year Adventure Program run from late August through late May. The Race Program requires that young sailors complete the Beginner and Advanced Course over the summer for the Fleet they intend to join. This year, VYBA added the Adventure Program which requires successfully completing a Beginner Course or two weeks of Pollywogs. The core focus of all the VYBA programs is to keep the area-youth engaged in sailing activities.

The Summer Program runs June 12 through August 11, and is open to all youth in the Greater Venice Area.  The summer program classes are half day, either 9am to noon or 1pm to 4pm, Monday through Friday.  All skill levels are welcome.  To be participate in sailing classes during the school year, the students must first successfully complete the Beginner and Advanced levels. The VYBA sailing program has become a family affair, and parents of the young sailors are encouraged to participate by observing and photographing the action from the dock.  

The VYBA supports the Venice High School Sailing team, formed in 2016.  The team uses the VYBA’s C420 boats and coaches travel with the team to all of the regattas.  The team received high fives from the Venice Community after they placed 17th out of 40 in the SAISA Division in their first year.  


The Adult Learn To Sail Program offers the opportunity for area adults to see what this youth sailing craze is all about. Geared towards adults who have none to some sailing experience, classes are taught on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6pm to 9pm. Each Adult Session includes 6 classes, and this summer 3 sessions are being offered. Registration and more information about all of the Programs can be found on the website at

The Boston Whalers used to travel with and monitor the student sailors are equipped with first aid kits, and the instructors carry VHF radios and cell phones.  In the event assistance is required at any time on the water, the instructors can easily have immediate contact with the Venice Yacht Club Dock Master or the Venice Marine Patrol.

VYBA is a 501©(3) non-profit organization that is governed by an all-volunteer board of directors chartered with exercising a serious fiduciary responsibility to insure vitality of the organization now and for the future. Tuition fees cover only a portion of the coaching costs.  Other expenditures must be covered by community donations and fund-raising activities.

VMS Named Main Street of The Month

FL Department of State

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:

Christmas In July - Sat & Sun, July 21-21 from 10am to 5pm

Downtown Venice: “Christmas in July”
By Maria Baskin

Don’t panic!  Don’t wrack you brains out because you don’t know what to get for the kids or your husband or the friend who has everything for Christmas. Come to Downtown Venice on Friday and Saturday,

Christmas in July Photo 1a

July 21-22 from 10:00am-5:00pm where you can experience stress-free shopping in the true spirit of Christmas. It will be a fun event with gifts, a raffle, decorations, and new stores, on all the avenues and some of the alleys in between!


We all remember the Christmas decorations, the lights, the ornaments and the Christmas villages. Many of Venice’s finest stores will help to get you in to the spirit with all the Christmas trappings including delectable goodies. When we think of each Christmas past, most of us remember the last minute shopping, stores running out of items, the long lines at the registers, and the mountains of gift wrapping.  Where does all the Christmas “spirit” go?  The downtown Venice two-day Christmas in July event will put the “Merry-ment” back into your Christmas shopping adventure. The local vendors of the avenues will offer special discounts storewide or on selected items, and some will remain open later on the Friday, the 21st. At 10am on Saturday, the 22nd, Santa will join the Venice Fire Department for a ride on Venice’s newest fire truck around the Avenues, starting at the West end of the Venice Farmer’s Market.

There will be festivities to enjoy all over Venice. Paris Hair Design Salon in the KMI Building on Tampa Avenue will host a party, complete with door prizes, from 2pm to 7pm on Friday the 21st, with music, appetizers, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Be sure to make Mother’s Cupboard Spice Shoppe on Miami a must-stop on your journey. This unique nook offers all kinds of tips to spice-up a meal or pick up a new kitchen utensil that you didn’t even know you needed.  Plus, you have to pop in for a free chocolate chip cookie. Stop by Elephants Trunk at 595 South Tamiami Trail for more great deals, kids’ activities, a bake sale, popcorn, hotdogs, and more!  And don’t forget to give the Gift of Life at the available Blood Mobile.

There will be a raffle give-a-way of 4 gift baskets, full of donated items from the downtown businesses worth a total of $1,000 – shoes, Champagne, jewelry, clothing, gift certificates and much more.   Bring the children to meet Santa & Mrs. Claus from 11:00am-4:00pm and then ride the trolley that will drop you off at any stop along any of the Avenues – West Venice, Tampa and Miami.

Christmas in July Photo 2a
Get a jump on your holiday gift giving and make a day of shopping and dining in Downtown Venice.  Browse the shops and collect those really cool ideas for those on your nice list.  Items will pop out at you as you think out loud, “That would be great for Dad.” Or, “Wow, that is perfect for my sister.”  And you can’t help but add a little something for yourself to your shopping bags.

Forget your stresses and get in the spirit  at the Downtown Venice “Christmas in July” event. You can catch Santa and    Mrs. Claus on Friday, July 21 at Café Venice on West Venice Avenue at noontime or on Saturday, July 22 at   Abby’s restaurant on Miami Avenue at noontime.

Pick up your “free” raffle tickets at many of the downtown businesses. The raffle will be done on Tuesday, July 25th, and winners will be contacted. Ride the Trolley on both days from 11am to 4pm. Thank you to the merchants of Miami Avenue and the Venice Gondolier Sun for sponsoring the trolley!

Visit the many participating businesses to find great shopping and get in the holiday spirit: Aura Organic Spa + Wellness, B&B Bootery, Café Venice, Captain’s Landing, Celebration Corner, Ciao Gelato, Cleopatra’s Bath & Body, Coldwell Banker, Collector’s Gallery & Framery, Croissant & Company, DanaTyler, Dick’s Shoes, Down Island Way Boutique, DP Fitness & Wellness, Earth Treasures, Elephant’s Trunk, ERA Preferred Properties of Venice Lauren Meadows, Eyes On You, Florida Olive Oil Company, Fraser’s Island Gift Nook, Island Life Hammock Company, La Bella Interiors, Lisa’s Classic Rose, Lueanne Wood, P.A., Made in Italy, Mother’s Cupboard Spice Shoppe, Mrs. Candlewick’s Shoppe, Nana’s A Children’s Shop, Puttin’ on the Ritz, Sandy’s Designer Clothing, Scarlet Macaw Resort Wear, Seaside Chic Boutique, Sunbug, Tangi & Jess, Tarpon Bay Trading Company, The Tabletop, Treasures in Time, Venice in Vogue, Venice Olive Oil Company, Venice Stationers, Venice Trading Company, Venice Wine & Coffee, Wish On the Island

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, 2017.20th Annual Art Festival 2007 ArchwayPoster

•    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

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? 

    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 winEarth Treasuresdows.  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.      Parasols    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, 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.  

Made In Italy Photo 1

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.” 

Made In Italy Photo 2

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

A young entrepreneur with a vision and a background in Integrative Nutrition, Owners Alexa and her moIsland Organics Photo to Usem, 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.

SEAFOOD FESTIVAL Sat & Sun, May 6-7, 11am-8pm

Venice Seafood & Music Festival

Come and Experience the first inaugural Venice Seafood & Music Festival, hosted by Venice MainStreet.Seafood Poster JPEG

Locals and visitors will be raving about this event until we do it again next year!  Prize-winning seafood dishes will be served up at Centennial Park on Saturday and Sunday, May 6 and 7, from 11am to 8pm each day. Admission is free. All of you seafood aficionados are invited to savor your local favorites from Blu Island Bistro, Brew Burgers, Burgundy Square Café, Café Venice, Captain Eddie’s, Cedar Reef, Crow’s Nest, Daiquiri Deck, Made in Italy, and Saltwater Café.

The Venice Seafood & Music Festival will offer a full menu of delectable delights.  Ready, set, sample a little bit of everything -- chock-full chowder, fresh-shucked oysters, tender Group Cheeks, Ahi Tuna and many more tasty surprises.  Local restaurants and seafood purveyors will prepare their mouth-watering creations on-site from fresh ingredients sourced locally from Florida’s coast waters. Meat and vegetarian dishes will also be available, as well as both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

And while you are dining with friends and family, tune your ears to the captivating sounds of live musical performances on stage by some of Florida’s and the region’s top musical talents.  Whether you are on your first appetizer or your last bite, enjoy the variety of musical genres filling the airwaves, from R&B, jazz, rock, reggae, and soul to hip-swaying Caribbean sounds. Saturday’s band line-up will feature Ocean’s Eleven Big Band, Spark Notes, Sarasota Steel Pan Band, Jah Movement followed by Sarasota Jazz Project, Kettle of Fish, Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues, and Twinkle & Rock Soul Radio on Sunday.

We thank you in advance for your generosity as volunteers from the South County Food Pantry will be collecting non-perishable food items on both days of the Seafood Festival at the Centennial Park Kiosk from 11am to 6pm.

Join us for a weekend of delicious food and drinks and music while enjoying the camaraderie of family and friends and beauty that is downtown Venice.  We will lay the feast – all we need is you!  Visit for additional information including menus and the band performance schedule.

For more information, contact Venice MainStreet at 941-484-6722


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