The Sarasota Highland Games & Celtic Festival (Mar.) is a pretty big event featuring a variety of athletic competitions (caber tossing, stone putting, hammer throwing) as well as musical ones (solo and group bagpiping, Highland dancing). Throughout the day there are folk musicians, pipe-and-drum corps, spinning and weaving demonstrations, food, and whisky.
The beaches in Venice, 26 miles south of Sarasota , are well known as good places to find sharks’ teeth, and the Venice Sharks Tooth Festival (Apr.) is an appropriate celebration of that fact. The three-day festival takes place at the Airport Festival Grounds, with live music, arts, crafts, and food vendors, and of course folks showing off fossils and shark choppers.
Every year, kids and adults (but mostly adults) descend on the beach at Siesta Key  to compete in the Siesta Key Sand Sculpture Contest (May). The contest has been featured on several cable travel shows, and for good reason; the soft white sand at Siesta Key packs quite well, but it is also malleable enough to allow for considerable detail. These are no ordinary sandcastles. If you don’t have the patience to watch folks pack, wet, carve, and repeat for hours on end, the judging usually takes place around lunchtime.