Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of Bradenton area entertainment 2012

Steve Carrera, a sous chef with Ocean Harvest Market, fries up some squid fries during the 2012 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. BRADENTON HERALD FILE PHOTO

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Sure, Manatee County continued to make headlines for such Florida weirdness as human flesh eating and school teacher Facebook gaffes.

But the Bradenton area also managed to bring plenty of attention to its vibrant arts and entertainment scene.

Not a week or so went by this year without a winning show, major festival or $6.2 million project opening.

There was always something to get excited about; something that made me happy, and, yes, proud, to be a resident of Bradenton.

Another perk?

Many of these great events were free.

To celebrate, here's a month-by-month look back at the biggest and best Manatee County entertainment events of 2012.

The forever fun Manatee County Fair (Jan. 12-22): The 96th edition of the Manatee County Fair proved to be another fun affair filled with everything from live country music to livestock to midway madness. My favorite part? Enjoying the various sights, sounds and smells with the amazing woman who recently became my wife.

Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival turns 30 (Feb. 18-19)
: The 30th anniversary of the Cortezians' signature event was another sunny celebration along Sarasota Bay featuring an abundance of fresh seafood by our favorite restaurants like Ocean Harvest (see photo) plus homegrown music and clog dancing.

'Voice' finalist at Village of the Arts (March 2): The Village of the Arts' monthly ArtWalk enjoyed an extra boost when blues artist Beverly McClellan, who finished in the top four as part of Christina Aguilera's team during the first season of NBC's "The Voice," played a free show at the Blues Revue office on 11th Avenue.

Tyrese headlines Rib Fest in Palmetto (April 15)
: He played Sgt. Robert Epps in the "Transformers" franchise and returned as Roman Pearce in "Fast Five" after originating the role in "2 Fast 2 Furious." First-name-only star Tyrese then returned to music and released "Open Invitation," which shot to the top 10 on the Billboard 200 not too long before he closed the Gulfcoast Rhythm & Ribfest at the Manatee County Fairgrounds.

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