Shrimp Festival activities on Fort Myers Beach begin today
Start checking your watch because the 51st annual Lion’s Club Shrimp Festival is right around the corner.
And this year’s festival is not just a weekend event anymore.
This long-standing local tradition kicks off with the Queen’s Ball today, Feb. 28, continues with the 37th annual shrimp run Saturday, March 7, and beefs up with an action-packed weekend March 13-14 featuring the Shrimp Festival Parade, crowning of the queen, and a two-day exposition of food and arts and crafts vendors at Lynn Hall Memorial Park.
“We’re about where we were at this time last year in terms of preparation,” said Ted Clifton, president of the Lion’s Club. “We’ve had good luck in the past and every year we try to do better. The vendors are full in spite of the economy and t-shirts are still available. We’re just busy dotting the ‘i’s’ and crossing the ‘t’s.”
This year’s weather appears to be more favorable than 2008. Last year, rain and strong winds threatened the festivities.
“The vendors did real well last year because of the weather, except for the ones whose tents were flying around,” said Clifton. “The cooler temperature didn’t stop people from visiting them at the park.”
Clifton met with his club members Thursday night at St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church on Williams Drive to finalize plans.
“That is a regular meeting for the Lions,” he said. “But, it’s pretty much devoted to the shrimp fest. It’ll be nice to meet some of the ‘snowbirds’ who are Lions members up north and help volunteer for this event.”
The revival of the ‘Queens Ball’
The Fort Myers Beach Lions Club will be hosting a “Queens Ball” today from 7 to 10 p.m. at St. Raphael’s.
The contestants for this year’s Shrimp Queen and their sponsors will be in attendance for this festive event, according to Lion Carolyn Van Duzer.
“We did (the Queen’s Ball) years and years ago and we’re bringing it back this year,” she said. “We’d like to host a big event and get the whole community involved.”
Come and dance with DAZ, meet the contestants and vote for your favorite princess to become a queen.
Tickets are a $10 tax deductible donation to the Lions.
“There’s a limited amount of advance tickets,” said Van Duzer. “It’s a party atmosphere for the girls. It gives them something to remember other than the parade and ceremony.”
For ticket availability call 463-6986 or 463-9738.
37th annual children’s shrimp run
The Fort Myers Beach Lions Club will hold the 37th annual Shrimp Run for children in kindergarten through fifth grade on Saturday, March 7.
The running event begins on the beachfront at Gulf Beach Road (across from Topps Supermarket) with an 8 a.m. check-in time and an 8:30 a.m. start.
There will be gold, silver, and bronze medals for boy and girl winners in each grade and ribbons will be given to all other runners.
Be sure to wear good running shoes.
This race is the second kickoff event for the 51st annual Shrimp Festival.
Parade, queen ceremony, exposition
The 51st annual Lions Club Shrimp Festival will continue on March 14 at 10 a.m. with a parade down Estero Boulevard from School Street to the Matanzas Bridge and the crowning of the 2009 Shrimp Queen at Lynn Hall Park by the pier.
Keep in mind that the skybridge will be officially closed from 9 a.m. to noon to clear a path for the parade.
During and after the parade, check out the exposition at Lynn Hall Memorial Park. You can enjoy the Lions Club famous shrimp dinners as well many other different varieties of food and view the many vendors selling arts and crafts in the park Saturday and Sunday.
All proceeds raised by the Lions Club go to different charities including local eye examinations; the Fort Myers Beach Library for large print and books on tape; Beach Elementary School projects; plus many local sports teams. Lions also support State projects including the Florida Lions Camp, Southeast Guide Dogs, the Eye Banks and the Conklin Center to help train those with handicaps.
T-shirts for sale
The Fort Myers Beach Lion’s Club 2009 Shrimp Festival shirts and tank tops are still available for sale at Sun Hardware, Beach Paints, the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce office and Erickson and Jenson.
For a full listing of events and contacts, go to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Carolyn at 463-9738 or Ted at 454-0043.