SRQ Magazine Celebrates 20 Years With the Community

Festival

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY OCT 23, 2018

In a celebration of community—and 20 years celebrating that community—SRQ Media shut down Dolphin Avenue this past Saturday for the first annual La Strada street festival. Featuring food trucks, local bands, street performances and even a special event for a special guest of honor, the town danced, gabbed and ate well into the evening, making this inaugural celebration a roaring success and sure to return.

A celebration of 20 years of SRQ magazine—and the vibrant local business and arts and culture community that has supported it through the years and made its existence possible by making the region the exciting place to live that it is—the La Strada street festival highlighted all the aspects that make this region its own particular paradise.

With the weather being unseasonally cooperative, the event began at 6pm (though eager guests arrived as early as 5:30pm) with food trucks circling the Dolphin area and posting up in the parking lots. Festival-goers enjoyed gourmet gastronomical creations from the folks at FIllaburger, killer tacos with all the options from Tamiami Tacos, classics made new from PB & Jelly Deli and Venezuelan flavors from Kuwai Venezuelan Street Food—and then cooled off with smoothies from SaraFresh Juice and shaved ice from Kona Ice.

Folks got a taste of the arts and culture scene that earns this region the title of Creative Coast, with performances from several of the area’s notable institutions. Circus Arts Conservatory brought jugglers, aerialists and more, performing without a net over the blacktop to the gasps of the gathered crowd. Florida Studio Theatre Improv sent performers through the crowd for a kid-friendly scavenger hunt, Sarasota Contemporary Dance showcased cutting edge dance and even improv beatboxing, and violin wunderkind Elijah of the Sarasota Youth Orchestra graced the night with virtuosic performance. In a special highlight, students of Sarasota High School Theater brought Michael Jackson’s Thriller to life with a dance performance and zombie walk.

And while the kids flexed their artsy muscles with craft boxes, mural painting, face painting and balloon art, a special group gathered inside the SRQ Studios for a special tribute to the man of the hour—Dr. Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art and Design. Also celebrating his 20th anniversary in Sarasota, friends and colleagues convened to enjoy a special performance from FST Improv and a celebration that included the unveiling of a digital portrait of Thompson, created by artist Danica Jokic. Suitably surprised (and embarrassed), Thompson took it all in stride, even as friends and board members gave him a bit of a playful roast. “I didn’t have a clue,” he said, before continuing to celebrate the 20-year relationship between the college and the magazine. “It’s a match made in heaven,” he said. “The magazine has had such a great impact on the community.”

Inside, guitar virtuoso Jami Gee finger-picked her way through the evening, while, outside, the party wound down with final musical performances from The Divebombers and The Heather Downie & Friends Band, following Bri Rivera and Cahoots.

"La Strada wildly exceeded our hopes,” says SRQ magazine publisher Wes Roberts. “When Lisl [Liang] and I started SRQ magazine 20 years ago, we decided to always tell stories and create experiences that reflected the best that our community has to offer. Celebrating our 20th anniversary with a roaring street festival was a perfect distillation of that give-and-take that we love—that exchange of energy between the people of Sarasota and Bradenton, and the SRQ events and publications.”

Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.

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