Fall events in Venice, North Port and Englewood

Accompanied by neither falling leaves to rake nor piles of snow to shovel, the shift in the seasons may feel almost imperceptible in Florida—but the moment those first autumn breezes blow south, the locals take notice.

Locals know that autumn breezes whisper farmers’ markets to life; that October heralds the moment when daytime temperatures drop to the meteorological definition of “perfect,” when outdoor festivals and activities that indulge in the weather should be enjoyed to the fullest—and as frequently as possible.

The social calendar in Venice, North Port and Englewood takes advantage of the breeze by piling up the opportunities to get out and enjoy the autumn on Florida’s sunny Gulf Coast. See what the season has to offer:

Have a Spooktacular South County Halloween

Halloween is a big event in Sarasota’s south county region. The historic towns of Venice, Englewood and Osprey are steeped in Old Florida history—and thus, surely, haunted by Old Florida ghosts.

Among the most haunted of spots in Sarasota County is Historic Spanish Point. As one of the largest and most actively preserved archaeological sites on Florida’s Gulf coast, Spanish Point is home to more than 5,000 years of local prehistory. It is also the site where pioneering businesswoman, Bertha Palmer, settled in 1910, and, where she died in 1918. Reserve your spot early, as space is limited on the popular annual Ghost Hunting Tour at Spanish Point, taking place on Oct. 23.

If the ghost tours fail to give you goosebumps, get in touch with the Victorian gothic at the spooky Victorian Funeral being held at Spanish Point’s Mary’s Chapel on Oct. 30, just in time for All Hallow’s Eve. History buffs and fans of the macabre will delight in this unique look at the traditions of a bygone era.

Meanwhile, in the 21st century, Oscar Scherer Park in Venice is scheduled to host its 3rd annual Haunted Trails on Oct. 23 to 24, featuring a ghoulish, haunted outdoor hiking path for those who dare to be scared. The park’s Haunted Trails event also features a trick-or-treat trail for the little ones, costume contests, and games and activities for kids.

The Italian American Club of Venice has two events lined up so that adults and kids can enjoy their own spooky celebrations. On Oct. 24, the club will host a Halloween Party for Adults that features grown-up fun, including a costume contest and Halloween spirits—of the cocktail variety, that is. On the 25th, the club celebrates with a Halloween Children’s Bash for kids 10 and under, with trick-or-treating, kids activities, pony rides and more.

On Oct. 31, Venice hosts its annual Children’s Costume and Halloween Parade and trick-or-treat event on Venice Main Street. The event kicks off at Centennial Park, where kids can begin to gather at 4 p.m. The parade begins at 4:30 p.m.

In North Port, the Mummies and Goblins Party gives pre-K aged kids a chance to get in on the Halloween festivities with age-appropriate activities. The party takes place on Oct. 22 at the George Mullen Activity Center, and features a morning filled with tyke-oriented activities including cookie decorating, a costume contest, and Halloween-themed photo opportunities. This event is appropriate for preschool age children, ages 2-5.

Trick-or-Treat at North Port City Hall on Oct. 30 from 5 to 8 p.m. For the special occasion, city officials and staff will haunt three levels of City Hall, creating spooky scenes full of treats and goodies for costumed kids and their parents. Please note that no pets or strollers are allowed in City Hall.

In Englewood, the 20th annual Dearborn Street Halloween Safe Walk trick-or-treating event takes place on Halloween night from 5 to 7 p.m. Trick-or-treating on Dearborn Street features live music, a pet costume contest, pumpkin patch photo props, and, of course, ghoulish goodies and treats.

More Fall Fun in Venice, Osprey, and Englewood

The haunting season may end when Halloween draws to a close and the skeletons climb back into their coffins, but Halloween is just part of the fun that comes with fall in south Sarasota County.

Here’s what else the months of October and November give us a chance to look forward to in south Sarasota:

The Englewood Farmer’s Market launched its season on Oct. 1. The market takes place every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features fresh, local produce in the Old Englewood Village on the 300 block of West Dearborn Street. On Saturday mornings, the Venice Farmer’s Market springs to life with local farmers and bakers, fishermen, craftsmen and artists at the heart of downtown Venice. From fresh produce, seafood and locally roasted coffee to handcrafted soaps and jewelry, you can find it all in this lively farmers’ markets on Thursdays and Saturdays.

On Oct. 16 to 18, the Women’s Sertoma Club of Venice hosts its annual SunFiesta festival to support the club’s scholarship fund. The celebration is a more than 20 year Venice tradition that includes a parade, live music, dancing, food, arts and crafts, and a quirky “bed race.”

On Nov. 7 to 8 the 28th annual Downtown Venice Art Festival takes over West Venice Avenue in downtown Venice. The Venice Art Festival brings more than 150 nationally-renowned artists to exhibit and sell their fine art, including paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography, glass and ceramics, and mixed-media works.

The 2015 Chalk Festival celebrates the theme, “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” in two locations in Venice. The main festival takes place at Venice Airport Fairgrounds Nov. 9 to 16, featuring hundreds of international artists, as well as 3D pavement paintings with Kurt Wenner, the festival’s “Going Vertical” and “Seniors Going Vertical” street art campaigns, the Pavement Music Festival, and more. A second location along West Miami Ave. in downtown Venice will run Nov. 13 to 16, where approximately 40 traditional pavement artists will chalk up the street with vibrant temporary masterpieces.

The 3rd annual Venice Blues Festival comes to Venice on Nov. 21 at Maxine Barritt Park. This year’s festival takes place 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and features an electric lineup of local, regional and national acts. Kettle of Fish, Deb and the Dynamics, TC Carr, Betty Padgett, Larry McCrae and Kinsey Report take the stage at this year’s festival. Tickets are $25 advance; $30 at the gate.

In Osprey, the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast hosts its free annual Fall Family Festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 7 on the shores of Little Sarasota Bay at Bay Preserve. The day includes water conservation activities, chances to try dip net fishing and kayaking, arts and crafts, live music, old fashioned games, a fire truck and face painting. The event also includes free admission to Historic Spanish Point.

At Historic Spanish Point, “Front Porch Tales—A Storytelling Event” will take place all day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 14. This day-long event brings together some of the most celebrated storytellers in the region to weave tales that delight the imaginations of all ages. Many traditions of storytelling from a variety of cultures, including oral storytelling traditions, arts and crafts, music, dance and puppetry will be represented, bringing stories that communicate messages and morals across culture and time to life.

Historic Point also hosts its annual fundraising gala in November. This year’s theme is “Party at the Point—Down the Rabbit Hole,” an Alice in Wonderland themed gala that transforms Spanish Point into a Wonderland setting, with proceeds benefitting the archaeological, historical and environmental museum. The event takes place on the enchanting White Cottage lawn, pergola and sunken garden, featuring live music, dancing and dining, as well as photo ops with characters including Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit.

On Oct. 25, the 6th annual Tour de North Port will offer 15, 35, and 65 mile on-road bike rides through the scenic Florida pine flatwoods of Sarasota’s south county region. Printed and downloadable instructions will be available, and routes will be marked with color-coded trail markers. The $40 entry fee (kids under 10 accompanied by an adult are $10) includes catered breakfast, lunch and rest stop snacks.

The Englewood Beach WaterFest arrives on Florida’s Gulf Coast with a splash this fall. Starting Nov.1,the festivities kick off with the WaterFest EcoFest at Lemon Bay Park, an eco-education oriented family event featuring more than 30 environmental groups and hands-on learning opportunities. The PaddleFest takes place at Stump Pass Beach on Nov. 14. The event features SUP racing for kids, an elite race, an open race, and a “fun paddle” event open to all forms of paddle craft.

The Englewood Beach WaterFest culminates in the RaceFest, the World Championship for the Offshore Powerboat Association, taking place Nov. 19 to 22. RaceFest kicks off on Nov. 19 with a parade of the superboats participating in the race and the renowned Budweiser Clydesdale horses. Race days will take place on Nov. 20 and 22, with an expected attendance of up to 40 boats racing at speeds up to and over 130 miles per hour at Englewood Beach.

Find Your Autumn Adventure

From goosebump-pricking haunted ghost tours to high speed, adrenaline pumping boat races, fall in south Sarasota County has something exciting to offer for everyone, so do as the locals do: Take advantage of the autumn breeze and the Gulf Coast sunshine. There’s so much to see and experience!

You’ve got some adventuring to do, so don’t forget to fill up your picnic basket at the farmers’ markets in Venice and Englewood before you hit the trail across sunny south Sarasota County.