Island Chatter: August

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Crystal Classic event taking shape

Tickets and parking passes are now available for the Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival, slated for Nov. 12 through 15.

Adult tickets are $10 per day, while a child ticket (ages 5 to 17) is $5 per day for those accompanied by a paying adult.

Children under 5 are free when accompanied by a paying adult.

Active and retired military personnel receive a discount at $8 per day (ID required), as do seniors 65 and older.

A four-day value pass is also available at $30, or $15 for those ages 5 through 17 and accompanied by a paying adult (available in advance and online only).

Parking passes (does not include admission) are $40 for Nov. 12, $60 for Nov. 13, $50 for Nov. 14, and $40 for Nov. 15. They are available in advance and online only.

Sign-up is also now available for the amateur competition, set for 8 a.m. Nov. 13. Only 25 spots are available, and they are distributed on a first-come basis.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available, as are vendor slots.

Meanwhile, as many as 200 volunteers are needed to present a successful festival.

Duties include set-up, hanging banners, displaying signage, artist hospitality, operations and entertainment support, admissions, beer and merchandise sales, and event break-down.

Those interested should contact Mia Leone at (941) 349-3800 or at

Finally, on the entertainment front, organizers have announced that Fleetwood Max, the Definitive Fleetwood Mac Tribute Band, will headline the Nov. 13 music stage.

A full live-music lineup will be announced in October.

Event hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 12, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 13, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 14 and 15. 

For details on all of these opportunities, visit

New bike racks in Village

Sarasota County’s Public Works Department’s Field Services staff installed two new bike racks in Siesta Village on June 9, Lisa Cece, special district coordinator for the county, reported.

   The first was placed in front of the SunTrust bank on the east side of Ocean Boulevard, near the newspaper “condo.” The other rack was installed at the Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) bus stop on the west side of Ocean Boulevard, in front of the Whispering Sands condominium complex.

   “The new five-loop bike racks match the hardscapes and will add to the future proposed new parking area,” Cece pointed out, referring to county plans to create 22 new public parking spaces within right-of-way on the northern end of the Village.

   “Public Works is also planning a new (electric vehicle) charging station that will charge up to two vehicles, next to the ADA parking space,” as part of that plan, Cece added.

More police presence requested for Siesta Key

  When Sheriff Kurt Hoffman and members of his senior staff appeared before the Sarasota County Commission on June 23 for their budget presentation, Hoffman talked briefly about what he called “increased activity” on the island this year.

   That was the reason, he noted, that he was asking for funding for two more deputies to assign to Siesta Key during the 2022 fiscal year, which will start on Oct. 1.

   Commissioner Christian Ziegler talked about the fact that Siesta Public Beach “really drives our economic activity.”

   Ziegler added that when he visits his constituents on Siesta, the need for more law enforcement presence “is one of the top issues that I hear.”

   Ziegler holds the commission’s District 2 seat, whose boundaries include the northern part of the island.

   Hoffman noted that Ziegler had called him a couple of times to voice those constituents’ concerns.

   Hoffman also pointed out that he and Major Brian Woodring, the new commander of the Sheriff’s Office’s Law Enforcement Division, had met several times with representatives of Siesta organizations.

   He and his wife, Hoffman continued, recently spent a weekend on Siesta. During that time, he said, he saw a deputy go by probably nine or 10 times a day — on horseback, on an all-terrain vehicle, or in an SUV.

   Nonetheless, Hoffman said, “You just don’t see the seasonal change that we used to see in Sarasota County,” noting that more visitors are present year-round.

Seaweed cleanup needed, red tide warnings emerge

   Although unrelated to the red tide conditions on the shoreline, seaweed became a problem on the Key in mid-July.

   On July 13, county staff reported “large quantities of seaweed have accumulated on Siesta Key,” so workers conducted seaweed cleanup on the public beach and at the beach accesses.

   Mote Marine Laboratory’s Beach Conditions Reporting System noted red macroalgae on Siesta Public Beach on July 13. Warning signs were posted that day, but no substantial fish kill was reported.

   A July 14 post on the county government Facebook page said workers removed an estimated 19 tons of seaweed and marine debris from Siesta Beach the previous day.

However, starting July 21, dead fish did begin to appear on many stretches of the beach.

Siesta Sand
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