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2017 World Rowing Championships Kick Off In Sarasota This Weekend

The 2017 World Rowing Championships kick off at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota Saturday.

The nine-day event begins with an opening ceremony at 7 p.m.

Thousands are expected to attend Saturday's event, which spokesman Max Winitz says will be very similar to an Olympics opening ceremony.

He says it will pay homage to the 900 athletes participating in the championship and the 69 countries they hail from.

"But [the ceremony] is also telling the story of Florida's SunCoast to all of our out-of-town visitors,” Winitz said. “It will touch on the rich circus heritage that this area is famous for, and we have some of the most popular, reputable entertainment acts from the region that will be performing during the opening ceremony."

The ceremony is free to the public save for a small parking fee.

The rowing competitions begin Sunday morning and run through October 1. Tickets are nearly sold out for some of the prime races closer to the final.

Winitz says he’s excited that the local community seems to have embraced the event.

"I think they understand that you don't have to know a lot about rowing to come out here and enjoy yourself because it is a giant festival with entertainment and food, and it’s just going to be a family-friendly event for all," he said.

For those who want to check out the competition but are unsure about buying tickets, event organizers recently announced races on Wednesday are free.

Winitz says they wanted to do something to thank the public for its support, especially after Hurricane Irma.

"This community is resilient,” he said. “It's amazing we still have nearly 2,000 volunteers, some of whom were without power for days, committed to coming out and lending a helping hand during this event, so we wanted to do something special for everybody."

Winitz says Nathan Benderson Park didn't suffer any serious damage from Irma.

For more information on the 2017 World Rowing, check out the event website.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
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