VENICE — In 2019, more than 20,000 people took part in the Suncoast BBQ & Bluegrass Bash.
Taking the Venice event into account for the last decade, it has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Suncoast Foundation for Handicapped Children and had an economic impact to the community into the millions of dollars.
It didn’t take place in 2020 because of COVID-19.
But it returned April 17 through a fundraising dinner called the BBQ & Bluegrass Hoot ‘n’ Annie held at Fox Lea Farm.
It was held outdoors with safety protocols met, according to a news release.
“Champion BBQ pitmaster Dana “Big Papa” Hillis, who has participated in the Venice event since its inception, catered the three-course meal,” it said. “A good time was had by all.”
The Grascals, an award-winning bluegrass band, performed along with local bluegrass band Swinging Bridge.
In the release, event founder Don Fisher was pleased with the turnout and the night that raises thousands of dollars to support the Suncoast Foundation’s facilities.
“The people loved the food and bluegrass entertainment,” Fisher said. “We put on an event that was genuine Americana. We were able to hold this successful event in spite of all the restrictions and challenges.”
The Suncoast Foundation provides more than $20 million worth of facilities in Sarasota County in Sarasota, Venice and North Port, the news release said.
“Currently, the facilities are occupied by Special Olympics, The Florida Center, The Haven, Children’s First, Boys and Girls Club, Challenger Baseball, Sertoma Speech Clinic, and the Loveland Center,” the news release said. “Each year, they serve more than 5,000 children and families with disabilities.”
Fisher thanked FCCI Insurance Group and Gulf Coast Community Foundation for sponsoring the night along with other supporters and volunteers.
“The net proceeds from the Hoot ‘n’ Annie and Sporting Clays Fun Shoot held earlier will be used to support and maintain all the facilities now and in the future, ensuring the legacies of Kevin Brown, Tom Brown, John Cox, Cal Erb, Tim Erickson, Kathy Hazard, Lt. Gen. Rolland Heiser, Gary Jones, Ken Linguard, John Olliver, Orville Ray, Bob Ritz, John Ryan, Bill Sirios, Bob Stanton, Hollis Trucker Jr., Gene Whipp, Steve Zagony, Dave Jaques and Robert Woods, who were instrumental in supporting the foundation’s mission.”