Most families have watched LeBron James score by putting the ball in the net, but for 2019 City of Venice employees stage the first basketball contest. A challenging test when a back hoe or digger driver demonstrates lifting a basketball off the ground with the extended arm bucket and skillfully placing it into the net.

It is just one of the competing equipment demonstrations by 30 Venice Public Works Department employees in their first ROAD-E-O. For the first time Venice Nokomis Rotary Club Annual Arts & Crafts Festival welcomes city employees in their first ROAD-E-O at this event.

The festival is the first major two-day show for the entire community in 2019 on Jan. 19-20 at the Venice Airport festival grounds. It will be more than double the size of previous festivals to accommodate the ROAD-E-O and have all the usual popular activities.

It opens from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan.19 for the Art & Crafts Festival with the Saturday only ROAD-E-O from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Bandana Band Show from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Continuing on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with all the annual family festivities.

Win a cruise on the ‘Pluck A Duck’ from the pond, meet the proud owners of the vintage cars on display from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. Enjoy fresh food from local food vendors, hot and cold drinks, beer and wine, ice cream and kettle corn. For kids there is a playground with bounce houses, slides and much more.

Vendors will be exhibiting their fine art and craft works and visitors can see the annual exhibition of scholar’s artwork and enjoy entertainment on the stage during both days.

On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Venice Public Works Department stages their first competitive ROAD-E-O where city department employees skillfully operate heavy equipment and provide a large staging area for families to experience equipment demonstrations and interactive booths.

“We want to have something exciting going on all day,” said Travis Holt of the Public Works Department who is coordinating arrangements for the city. “All displays take place in an arena with viewing area and an announcer will explain what is taking place throughout the day,” Holt continues.

Local drivers will enthrall the audiences with their maneuvering skills challenging obstacle courses and more in nine events. With demonstrations of handling a fire engine, solid waste front loader, backhoe, mini hoe, vac-con, truck crane, claw truck and police obstacle course.

In the skill tests an operator using a backhoe excavator or digger will control the digging bucket on the two-part articulated arm attempting to take a tennis ball off a cone and be judged on his maneuvering tactics.

Venice Police officers will compete on an obstacle driving course showcasing their skills. Courses will be set-up to test the skills of competing garbage truck drivers and fire trucks drivers competing in stages of a national competition.

In the ROAD-E-O area youngsters can climb into the police cars, fire truck and other vehicles. They will be able to meet the skilled drivers who use this equipment daily in and around Venice.

At the showground parking is free and admission for adults is $3, children 12 and under are free.

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