BRADENTON, Fla. — This month, residents will have the opportunity to meet some of Manatee County’s early pioneers while learning more about the development of the area from 1840 to the turn of the century during the annual “Spirit Voices from Old Manatee” at the Manatee Village Historical Park, which is maintained by the Manatee County Clerk’s Office.
This year marks the seventh and final season for the outdoor historical drama presented by the Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. The immersive play and cemetery tour premiered in 2011 as an original living history production. The historical drama began Oct. 6, with performances offered every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 22 with the exception of Oct. 8.
The drama will draw to a close due to the struggle to fill all of the roles necessary to put on the performance.
“The program has been a real labor of love for all involved since its inception,” said
Phaedra Carter, supervisor at the Manatee Village Historical Park. “We are thankful for the dedication exhibited by the cast, crew, stage managers, directors and volunteers of each season. Each and every one contributed to the popularity and success of Spirit Voices as a way to bring the history of our community to life as well as a way to ensure the preservation of structures at Manatee Village through the funds raised during this seven-year program.”
Manatee County originated in the mid 1800s when pioneers made their way into the area, shaping its formation and evolution. Costumed thespians bring to life early pioneers of the Village of Manatee, veteran soldiers of the Seminole and Civil Wars and other prominent people in the area.
“It gives people a sense of history of their area,” said Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Angel Colonneso, who saw the production for the first time five years ago. “It tells how Bradenton got its start even with all of the things they went through. It describes how life was, and gives you a real sense of place and a sense of history.”
For the duration of the historical production, the early settlers, portrayed by costumed actors, will share riveting graveside stories based on archives, descendants, diaries, military logs, books and legend.
Tickets are $20 per person and space is limited. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. with Act I scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Due to the interactive nature of the performances, all attendees will be required to sign a waiver at the gate.
Guests will be ushered into the 1887 Meeting House Church where a simulated Victorian wake is being held for a child. After gathering together, the minister will say a few words before leading everyone in a torchlight processional to the 1850 Manatee Burying Grounds.
“There’s humor mixed in as they share tidbits about their lives and tell the story of how they came to live in Manatee County,” said Colonneso. “It’s very interesting.”
Proceeds from “Spirit Voices from Old Manatee” will help the Manatee County Historical Commission to broaden its mission to preserve and share the heritage of Manatee County’s founding period between 1840 and 1918 while also benefiting public programming and preservation projects at Manatee Village Historical Park.
About the Manatee County Clerk’s Office
The Florida Constitution established the Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller as a public trustee, independently elected to protect public funds and public records while executing the functions of Clerk of the Circuit Court, County Comptroller, Treasurer and Auditor, Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners and County Recorder. The Clerk oversees a staff of more than 275 people, responsible for performing nearly 1,000 constitutional or statutory functions or duties, representing the broadest and most diverse mantle of responsibility of any locally elected official. The citizens of Manatee County elect the Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller to a term of four years. Currently, Angelina M. Colonneso serves as the Clerk of the Court. For more information, call 941-749-1800 or visit www.manateeclerk.com.