Fun things to do including free activities and happenings Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Sarasota and Manatee counties including North Port.

Here’s our list of the top 5 events happening today through Sunday in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Click here for a complete list of local weekend events.


1. Thunder by the Bay


The 22nd annual Thunder by the Bay music and motorcycle festival will return to the Sarasota Fairgrounds with headlining pop-metal band Warrant performing such hits as the 1990 party anthem "Cherry Pie" on Saturday. Today-Sunday, Sarasota Fairgrounds, 3000 Ringling Blvd.; $5 daily gate admission, 12 and younger, free; three-day festival pass $12; thunderbythebay.org


2. Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival


Nestled along north Sarasota Bay, Cortez is one the few remaining commercial fishing villages in Florida and an excellent place to eat fresh seafood and hear local live music, especially during this festival that dates back to 1981 and now draws about 20,000 attendees each year. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; Cortez Village, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez; $5 (free for kids 12 and younger); cortez-fish.org


3. Braves’ ‘The Big Rally’


North Port is kicking off its first full spring training season of the Atlanta Braves by hosting "The Big Rally." The free event will start with the national anthem performed by "America’s Got Talent" alum and North Port resident Emanne Beasha followed by a pep rally featuring the local Little League, North Port schools, bands, along with local government leaders. Atlanta Braves alumni players Mike Bielecki and Michael Tucker will be at the Braves tent to sign autographs from 1-3 p.m and Ari and the Alibis will perform live music. People of all ages can enjoy big games and activities — including the Doxie Dash, a race for dachshunds — and there will be food and beverage vendors. 1-4 p.m. Saturday; City Center Front Green, 4970 City Hall Boulevard, North Port; free; cityofnorthport.com/thebigrally


4. Orioles’ Springfest


Baseball fans are invited to celebrate the start of spring training at the Orioles’ fifth annual Springfest. The free-admission event will feature Orioles practice, fan games, souvenir photos, local food trucks, and more. Attendees will also once again have opportunities to "have a catch" on the Ed Smith Stadium field, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the ballpark and participate in a "Pitch for Charity" event to benefit Miracle League of Manasota. The event will conclude with a question and answer session with a player at approximately 12:45 p.m. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday; Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St., Sarasota; free; mlb.com/orioles/spring-training/springfest


5. Pirates Pep Rally


The 11th Annual Pirates Pep Rally in downtown Bradenton will include a photo booth, autograph sessions with current Pirates players as well as games operated by the Pirates, team sponsors, and community organizations. Classic rock and pop cover band Yesterdayze will perform along with an appearance by The Manatee High School drumline. 5-9 p.m. Saturday; Old Main Street between Third Avenue and Manatee Avenue in downtown Bradenton; free; pirates.com/springtraining


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Read more stories by Wade Tatangelo