AMI history comes to life on Heritage Day

Heritage Day fishing
Local fisherman Charles Fields explains how to attach fishing line to a bamboo pole to two attendees March 4 during the Heritage Day festivities. - Kristin Swain | Sun

ANNA MARIA — People took a step back in time at the Anna Maria Island Historical Society’s Heritage Day celebration.

Attendees flocked to the Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum on March 4 to learn how things were done decades ago from local craftsmen specializing in everything from spinning and weaving wool to gathering honey from bees.

During the day of festivities, musicians took to the stage to play folk tunes outside the museum while volunteers sold settler’s bread, baked goods and antiques.
Bonnet maker Dotti Giles stitched while attendees perused her selection of modern ladies’ hats. After losing several hats off the bow of her family’s boat, Giles was inspired to begin creating bonnets while watching “Little House on the Prairie.” This is her sixth year putting a modern twist on the traditional bonnet.

Local fisherman Charles Fields spent the day conducting talks on how to make and use a traditional bamboo fishing pole. All of the bamboo used for his poles comes from Anna Maria Island.

After sanding joints and attaching fishing line, Fields takes his creations to the Anna Maria City Pier every weekend to fish. While there, he invites passing children to join him in an old-fashioned fishing adventure.

Last year’s Tour of Homes quilt winner Mark Warren purchases raffle tickets for this year’s quilt from volunteers Joan Pettigrew and Joyce Hunt March 4 during the Heritage Day celebrations at the Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum. – Kristin Swain | Sun

Though the poles are typically used to catch lighter weight fish of up to one pound, Fields said he has accidentally caught and released a 20-pound sea turtle without breaking the rod. This year marks his 12th year making and giving away the fishing poles to young fishermen and women.
“I have fun doing this,” he said.

Joining the craftsmen in the fun were volunteers from the University of Florida and the Center of Anna Maria Island. While the volunteers from the university were there to hand out educational information on the school and the environment, the volunteers from the Center were there to bring awareness to the upcoming Tour of Homes and sell tickets for the annual quilt raffle.

The museum, located at 402 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.