Florida Manatee

Florida’s Manatee Viewing Center Hosts Free Nature Expo Oct.15-16

A multi-faceted Nature Expo, open to the public free of charge, is planned for Friday, Oct. 15, and Saturday, Oct. 16 as part of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival

The event, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be at the Tampa Electric Company’s Manatee Viewing Center. 6990 Dickman Road, in Apollo Beach. The expo includes nature-related merchandise for sale and information from booths of representatives of environmental agencies and organizations.

Vendors include

  • Two binoculars and optics companies, Redstart Optics and Swarovski Optiks, which will provide the region’s best opportunity to “test drive” binoculars.
  • Artist Peter R. Gerbert, who will have acrylic paintings and fine art prints, realistically depicting animals and birds in their natural habitats. Gerbert is a featured artist of the Florida Wildlife Federation since 1997 and the first artist to receive an “Artist of the Year” award from Audubon Florida.
  • The Little Red Wagon Native Plant Nursery, which will have plants that host birds, butterflies, and other insects.
  • Author Dr. Marc Minno, who will sign his books, Florida Butterfly Gardening, Butterflies Through Binoculars, and Florida Butterfly Caterpillars from 11:30 to 12:30 pm. on Friday.

Information booths will be hosted by

  • Local environmental groups including Audubon chapters, the Suncoast Native Plant Society, the Sierra Club and Tampa Bay Watch
  • Agencies including the Aquatic Preserves, Hillsborough County Environmental Lands, Southwest Florida Water Management District and others.

The Manatee Viewing Center’s store with nature-based items and items for bird lovers also will be open. The Snack Bar offers lunch and refreshments. Visitors can explore the boardwalks, which overlook at the manatee viewing area.  The center will open Nov. 1 after being closed for two years because of the pandemic.

The festival includes 36 field trips to nature preserves across the six-county region, 14 bird and wildlife seminars by leading Florida naturalists, and keynote presentations by Craig Pittman, award-winning investigative reporter and author, and Clay Taylor, long-term birder, naturalist, and nature photographer. For information and registration, see www.floridabirdingandnaturefestival.org

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