Perhaps the most important educational tools the Society offers are Crewe visits to local schools, hospitals, senior citizen homes, civic organizations and businesses.  Dressed in authentic 16th century Spanish attire, complete with chrome plated Morion helmets and plumes, full-width leather belts and corsair swords in scabbards at their sides, history lessons come to life when Hernando de Soto and his Crewe speak about the importance of our heritage. The Society’s modern day Hernando de Soto and his Crewe of Conquistadors make public appearances locally, regionally and nationally on behalf of Manatee County, educating audiences about the importance of our community’s heritage.


The Hernando de Soto Society is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1939 and consisting of over 200 volunteer members who foster and facilitate an appreciation of Manatee County’s Spanish - American heritage through fundraising events, educational opportunities and corporate sponsorships that allow them to donate over $50,000 annually to local charities, organizations and individuals. 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. Our fundraising efforts redistribute over $50,000 annually back into the community and our events generate an estimated 3 million dollars of economic stimulus to Manatee County.


Through a generous donation by De Soto member Dr. Art Engelhard, we maintain an annual student exchange program with Barcarrota, Spain (Bradenton’s Sister City). The members of the Hernando de Soto Historical Society maintain close ties with Bradenton’s Sister City – Barcarrota, Spain. For almost four decades, delegates from Barcarrota have traveled to Bradenton each year to take part in the annual Festival, and vice versa. Each year, a Bradenton resident is selected to journey to Spain for the summer (usually about 10 weeks). This individual becomes immersed in the Spanish culture and comes back home with a new appreciation of our cities’ relationship. Later in the year, a Barcarrota student travels to Bradenton to learn about our culture here in America. Former Ambassador, Trey Horne, wrote on his blog, “I have never felt so at home while being more than 4,000 miles away from home. I truly believe that every member of the Hernando de Soto Historical Society should make the trip to Barcarrota once, I know it won’t be their first and last visit to Barcarrota because the people of Barcarrota are absolutely amazing!”


Our society awards college scholarships to our De Soto Queen & Princess as well as the young ladies, ages 18-22, who annually serve on the De Soto Queen's Court. Additionally, the Vernon DeSear Friendship Award is presented to one of the ladies of the court who exemplifies qualities of outstanding friendship and attitude while her time on the court.


The Sisterhood of the Crown is an opportunity for past Queens, Princesses, and Queen's Court members to stay connected after their year. Through this group the ladies are able to continue giving back to their community. They participate in parades and organize several events and small gatherings throughout the year.