In 1938, the U.S. Government-appointed Swanton Commission determined that Shaw’s Point at the mouth of the Manatee River was the most likely spot for the Spanish explorer to have come ashore in Florida.
Just one year later, the Hernando de Soto Historical Society was formed to produce the first-ever De Soto Heritage Festival.
Fast-forward 76 years and the 225+ members of the Hernando de Soto Historical Society are some of the busiest volunteers in Manatee County. Our organization is responsible for producing the largest and most well attended events in the region.
The annual De Soto Heritage Festival (and several other annual special events held throughout the year) serve to unite Manatee County while educating the community about the historical significance of Hernando de Soto’s landing on the shores of the Manatee River on May 30, 1539.
Today, the Hernando de Soto Historical Society brings together a remarkable collection of committed volunteers representing a diverse cross-section of the community. More than 20 committees give hundreds of hours toward planning and producing events, many of which have received regional and national recognition.
Significant funds are raised through the Society’s efforts and redistributed back into the community to facilitate activities in keeping with the mission of the two organizations.