It’s that time of year again – the annual De Soto Heritage Festival kicks off on April 15th! This month’s events include two parades, a capture of the city, a grand ball, and more. There are events for kids and adults alike and you’re sure to find something that appeals to you. Here’s what you need to know.
De Soto Children’s Parade & Party in the Park – Friday, April 15th
This fun kid-friendly annual event features creations made by our local elementary school children. This year’s theme is Dive Into Reading, so the kids will build floats and costumes to emulate their favorite book, author, or book character.
During this event, friends and family line the streets anxiously waiting to see what the children’s imaginations have created. The adorable entries will make their way down the streets of Palmetto to historic Sutton Park, where you can stick around and enjoy fun, family-friendly activities at “Party in the Park,” sponsored by the Early Learning Coalition.
This free community event attracts about 2,000 people and is your chance to enjoy creative floats and outstanding school and team spirit. It kicks off at Palmetto High School / Manatee County Fairgrounds at 10 am. Party in the Park continues until 2 pm.
Crewe Landing & City Capture – Saturday, April 23rd
On Saturday, April 23rd at 1 pm, Don Hernando de Soto and his crewe will land on the historic downtown riverfront pier and make their way to City Hall.
When they arrive, Mayor Gene Brown will gladly give the “Key to the City” to these Conquistadors in exchange for fun and entertainment they’ll be providing during the following week.
Whether you’re young or young-at-heart, you won’t want to miss this exhilarating day on the streets of downtown Bradenton. Come out and join in on the fun as the Conquistadors and the 2022 Queen’s Court throw beads to all the onlookers.
Queen Selection Program – Wednesday, April 27th
Bring the entire family out for a night of entertainment as you watch one of the oldest traditions in Manatee County history – the selection of the De Soto Queen. The 2022 Queen’s Court will model the latest attire and answer questions as they vie for the title of Queen and Princess. The night will feature an appearance by Miss Florida and local schools will perform amazing dance routines.
This event begins at 6 pm and is held at the Manatee Convention Center. Tickets are $20. You can purchase them here.
The De Soto Ball – Friday, April 29th
Come dance the night away at Manatee County’s most prestigious social event. Join the Hernando De Soto Society and hundreds of Krewe members from throughout the country as they celebrate the Investiture of Don Hernando de Soto and the Coronation of the Queen. This promises to be an incredible evening you won’t soon forget.
This event runs from 7 pm to 11 pm and is held at the Bradenton Convention Center. Tickets are $100 for the ball only and $175 for the ball with dinner. You can purchase your tickets here.
Do Soto Grand Parade – Saturday, April 30th
With over 150 entries, the De Soto Grand Parade is one of the largest and oldest parades in the Southeastern United States.
More than 100,000 people will line the streets of Bradenton to view the illuminated floats and catch a glimpse of the new Hernando de Soto, Captain of the Crewe, and their newly crowned Queen and Princess.
Beads, coins, and other fun items are handed to the crowd throughout the night. The Parade steps off at 7:00 pm from Manatee High School. This is an extremely popular event, so make sure you get there early to enjoy the best possible view.
About the Hernando De Soto Historical Society
The Hernando de Soto Historical Society, Inc. is a not-for-profit, community organization of 225 Conquistadors (volunteer members) who celebrate the historical significance of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto’s landing near the mouth of the Manatee River in May 1539.
The organization has more than 20 committees that commit hundreds of hours to planning and producing events, many of which have received regional and national recognition.
There are two major organizations in the Society: the Hernando De Soto Historical Foundation and the Crewe of De Soto. The Society raises significant funds, which are redistributed back into the community to facilitate activities that are consistent with the organization’s mission.
The Crewe is the most visible arm of the Hernando de Soto Historical Society. You’ll often see them around town, dressed in authentic 16th century Spanish attire. They provide educational outreach, visiting local schools, hospitals, senior citizen homes, civic organizations, and businesses.