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Events: Meet the Team

Upcoming Production at Manatee Village

 The Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. and The Hat Theater Collective are proud to announce The Ballad of Old Manatee, a new immersive historical drama with original folk music inspired by true events from the Village of Manatee’s origins.

The Ballad of Old Manatee tells the dynamic love story of James C. Vanderipe and Sarah Lee—and an intense conflict between James and Sarah's father, the Reverend Edmund Lee. This conflict, shrouded in mystery and intrigue, leads to James' death and burial in what is called

"The Lonesome Grave." History meets mystery in this unique theatrical experience!

Inspired by true events and the early settlers of Manatee County, audiences will experience this World Premiere Musical among the historic buildings and grounds at Manatee Village Historical Park, including a Florida pioneer farmhouse built in a "Cracker Gothic-style," Manatee County's first courthouse (1860), a one-room schoolhouse (1905), and the Church (1887).

Produced and created by Danae DeShazer and Derek Brookens, under their new company The Hat Theater Collective, this interactive and unique theatrical experience will also serve as a fundraiser for the Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. maintains the historically significant buildings within the Manatee Village Historical Park in order to preserve and share the heritage of Manatee County’s founding period (1840-1918). 

Tickets are on sale for $27 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Manatee County Historical Commission, Inc. These proceeds will assist in the repairs and maintenance of the 1887 Church. Tickets can be purchased by visiting

The production is approximately 75 minutes with no intermission and will have a limited run on Fridays and Saturdays, April 21 - May 6, 2023. Several scenes will take place outdoors and the audience will move locations throughout the performance. 

Performance Calendar:

Friday, April 21 at 4:15PM and 6PM
Saturday, April 22 at 4:15PM and 6PM
Friday, April 28 at 4:15PM and 6PM
Saturday, April 29 at 2PM, 4:15PM and 6PM
Friday, May 5 at 4:15PM and 6PM
Saturday, May 6 at 2PM, 4:15PM and 6PM

Lecture Series

Lectures will be held in the Wiggins Store Conference Room starting at 2 PM on the 4th Saturday, 
February to October, unless otherwise noted. Seating is limited, filled on a first come basis.

Admission is free!

LoC Women mourning by a tomb lithograph of DW Kellogg and Co 1840s- No known restrictions.

Transformative Mourning

Saturday, March 25, 2 PM

Mourning during the Victorian era was a ritualized and necessary process to effectively grieve loved ones but, like many other aspects, the bloodshed caused by the American Civil War changed how mourning was carried out. From dog tags to embalming, many of the changes forced by the Civil War are still felt today and show how people adapt even in the most devastating circumstances to find a meaning in loss. 

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Living Off the Land

Saturday, April 22, 2 PM

Sugar production was the principal industry in this area during the early pioneering period. As Florida's population continued to grow, other industries began to flourish, including commercial fishing, turpentine, cow hunting, and agriculture.


Explore how settlers in the mid-1800s through the early 1900s took advantage of readily available natural resources of the land and sea.

Cemetery Tours

Select Saturdays February - May

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Join us for a free hour-long tour of the 1850 Manatee Burying Grounds led by a member of Manatee Village's staff. Tours cover different facets of life during Manatee's Founding Period (1840-1918) as well as stories of those buried in the burying grounds. Topics vary depending on the staff member leading the tour.

All tours begin at 10 AM on select Saturdays from February-May (see specific dates below). Space is limited and filled on a first come, first served basis. All members of your party must be present to receive a wristband. Check in at the Wiggins General Store at Manatee Village Historical Park on the morning of the tour to receive your free wrist band.

Please note that this is an outdoor event. Participants will traverse over curbs and uneven terrain. There will be no seating during the tour. Tours may be canceled due to inclement weather and rain dates will not be given. For the most up to date information, please follow us on social media or call 941-749-7165.


Upcoming Tour Schedule: 

Saturday, February 11 at 10 AM 

Saturday, March 11 at 10 AM 

Saturday, April 22 at 10 AM 

Saturday, May 13 at 10 AM 

Unable to make a tour or would like to go on your own? Visit the Wiggins Store during our normal operating hours and ask for a key and a map.

Special Events

An Old Florida Christmas

Saturday, December 9, 2023

10 AM–3 PM

Experience an old-fashioned Florida holiday celebration. “An Old Florida Christmas” features food, music, free "make and take" seasonal crafts, and vendors selling handmade goods.


Stroll the grounds to see the buildings decked out in Victorian and Florida pioneer inspired décor. Explore landmarks like the Old Cabbage Head locomotive, Junior Junction playground, museum exhibits, and the Whistle Stop Gift Shop. 

More event and vendor information will be provided at a later date.

Please note that this is an outdoor event and may be canceled due to inclement weather.

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