BRADENTON, Fla. — The roar of engines returns to the Manatee River this weekend, as the Bradenton Area River Regatta makes its return to Manatee County.
The annual powerboat race — the marquee event during a day full of live music, family activities, and fireworks — is Manatee County’s largest spectator event. According to Michael Dongilli, with the event organizer ISM/USA, the 2020 race attracted 110,000 people to the Bradenton and Palmetto areas.
"It's really a sight to see because we're so close to the shore, so you almost feel like you're right on top of what we're offering here, and you know, this is such a great place to race,” he said.
Out of an abundance of caution, the 2021 event was canceled, so Saturday’s regatta marks its return to Manatee County.
"We really think that people are just waiting to come back and enjoy, you know, a lot of the things that were kind of put on hold before the pandemic, and so our expectations are that we'll have just as many people if not more,” said Dongilli.
Dongilli said the Bradenton Area River Regatta has not only become one of the greatest events in the powerboat racing circuit but also a staple for the local economies of Bradenton and Palmetto.
"We actually do a study here afterwards to kind of quantify that. And in years past, it has shown that the economic impact here is roughly a little bit about $8 million all the way around,” he said.
The championship races — at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. — can be viewed from the Green Bridge or either side of the river Saturday. The fireworks finale is set for 7 p.m.
See the full list of activities, concerts, and events at this link or in the graphic below.