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East County Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2022 6 months ago

My Hometown Fest returns to Nathan Benderson Park

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The annual fundraiser festival benefits the Sertoma Club of Greater Sarasota.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

It's a fixture of My Hometown Fest, a large map of the U.S. where people can place a star on their hometown.

The hope is to get 3,000 stars or more on that map March 26 after My Hometown Fest ran a far smaller event in 2021 — My Hometown Jam — due to the pandemic.

This year it returns to the music festival people have come to expect at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota.

My Hometown Fest gives those who attend a chance to share memories of their roots with live music, food and craft beverages for the $35 admission price. The event benefits the Sertoma Club of Greater Sarasota, which provides therapy to those who face speech, language and hearing challenges.

“We get stars all over that map,” said Tim Self, a member of the Sertoma Club of Greater Sarasota. “The whole idea of My Hometown Fest is that you’re likely to experience the flavors, be it food or beverage, that is reminiscent of your hometown.” 

In January 2020, the nonprofit purchased a larger facility (2750 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota) to call home.

“Our new permanent home is almost paid for, but larger events like (My Hometown Fest) raise more money and certainly help us serve more kids, and that’s what we’re all about,” Self said. 

The festival will have between 20 and 25 restaurants to provide samples of food and more than 50 craft beverage vendors. 

Unlike past years when the festival was focused primarily on craft beer, My Hometown Fest is expanding to include several craft beverages, such as flavored seltzers, gin, bourbon and vodka. 

“Providing more variety will be more attractive,” Self said. “It will let people taste a wider variety of flavors and see what they haven’t experienced before.”

My Hometown Fest will feature live music by Ten-76, the Derek Lersch Band and the Matthew Johns Band. 

“Derek Lersch is one of my favorites, and he participated in My Hometown Jam last year," Self said. "We want to get him out to a larger audience. He tours regionally and sometimes plays out of Joyland, so people will know his name.”

Self said the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office will have its Junior SWAT Team obstacle course along with an armored vehicle to tour while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are bringing an RV that has a Madden NFL gaming station inside. 

“I’m excited we’re able to have these live events where a lot of people can gather, enjoy each other and enjoy food, music, fun and craft beverages,” Self said.

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