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Sarasota Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 6 months ago

Year of events planned for Sarasota County centennial

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Plans include virtual lectures and walking tours.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

County residents will sing “Happy Birthday” to their spouses, children and friends this year, but they also could sing it to the county as it rings in its 100th birthday.

Sarasota County was founded in 1921, when it split from Manatee County. Now, a year’s worth of events celebrating the history and culture of Sarasota will be held to celebrate the centennial.

The county will put on 100 days of events preceding the centennial on July 1 and the Sarasota County Centennial Steering Committee will provide various other opportunities throughout the year. Chair Frank Cassell said the steering committee is composed of historians and government officials who hope to create a celebration that is countywide.

“One of the things that had not gone well in the past was that a lot of the celebrations were in Sarasota city and did not reach out to people in other parts of the county,” Cassell said. “So we wanted to make sure people in all parts of the county could get involved if they wished to.”

Throughout the year, the committee has planned events that will focus on history, architecture, cultural assets and archaeological sites.

“Most of our plans consisted of trying to bring people together to celebrate this wonderful event,” Cassell said. “Obviously, to keep people safe from COVID-19, almost everything we had planned to do was rendered unusable, and we had to rethink the whole thing.”

However, Cassell said the committee has worked to find ways to deliver similar experiences safely.

For example, walking and driving tours of some of the county’s important archaeological sites and monuments will be offered through a smartphone app. Rather than hosting in-person lectures, the committee will offer a series that has been filmed.

Featured lectures will include:

  • The history of the county, given by Cassell, who also wrote “Creating Sarasota County;” 
  • The history of Eagle Point, given by Jim Middleton; and
  • A lecture on Rose Phillips Wilson, who established the Sarasota Times

Other sessions will be available to interested groups over Zoom, so follow-up questions can be asked.

Of course, no birthday would be complete without a gift.

The committee will present the county with two historical markers that tell the story of how it came to be. One marker will be installed at the Sarasota County Courthouse and the other at the Robert L. Anderson Administration Center in Venice.

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