There’s good reason that Venice is the Shark Tooth Capital of the World.

At the annual Shark’s Tooth Festival, April 12-14, you can learn all about it from experts on the subject while feasting on carnival foods and buying specimen teeth and even whole jaws.

Consider that sharks have seven rows of teeth and that the largest of the giant sharks have individual teeth as large as a human hand.

Eat your heart out Moby Dick. By comparison, the great white whale doesn’t seem quite so menacing.

While diehard shark tooth seekers still find some nice teeth along Venice beaches, the giant teeth are found farther from shore by divers.

Not only will visitors to the festival be able to see every size and talk to experts, children will have a special area of sand laced with teeth which should guarantee successful hunting.

Also to be found at the festival are experts on shells, especially fossil shells and other items that one might find along area beaches.

Crafters will be present with items made from their own beach findings and, for many festival visitors, most important of all — festival food. There will be 110 juried craft and collector vendors plus at least 20 food vendors and plenty of entertainment including a carnival area for kids of all ages and a parade of Special Olympics athletes.

On April 12, opening ceremonies begin at 5 p.m. The Gator Creek Band, a five-piece country music band featuring vocalist Heather Frank, Michael Frank on guitar, John Danaher on drums, Dennis Johnson on rhythm guitar and vocals and Cindy Hand on bass, will play from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

On April 13, DJ Danny opens the festival at 10 a.m. He will be followed by the Trinidudes steel drum band from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

As Venice is known as much for being a giving city as for being the Sharks Tooth Capital, this festival benefits Special Olympics Florida — Sarasota County. Special Olympics athletes will be the real stars of this festival.

At 1:45 p.m. the Special Olympics Florida Athlete Celebration begins. It will include a fishing presentation by Paul Joyce from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

DJ Danny returns from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., followed by Bandana from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Bandana, led by Butch Gerace, plays good ol’ rock ‘n roll that gets most everyone up and dancing to such favorites as “Wooly Bully,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and many more.

Maiden Cane follows from 6:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. with more rock music from a six-piece high-energy group that recreates arena rock shows of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Think Journey, Bon Jovi, Styx, Def Leppard, Kansas, Boston and the like.

On April 14, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., the Brown Campbell Blues Band, a local group, will provide its soulful blues sound. “American Idol” finalist Sam Wolf from the show’s 13th season where he placed in the top five, takes the stage from 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

The Big Red Bus will be at the festival for blood donations from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The festival will be open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 12; from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 13 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 14.

Admission is $5 per person at the gate, children 12 and under free. Free parking. No pets.

The Shark’s Tooth Festival is a project of Special Olympics Florida, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency. Proceeds of the festival benefit our local Special Olympics Florida — Sarasota County athletes and programs, including 14 sports, Young Athletes and Little ELITES, Healthy Athletes, Unified Champion Schools, Unified Sports, Motor Skills Training, Athlete Leadership and the Inclusion Revolution.

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