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Family focused festival attracts kudos from travel expert, area businesses

By Staff | Oct 21, 2009

The First Annual Art & Pumpkin Festival is pleased to announce that Jill Martin, Family Travel Expert at VisitFlorida.com, our official state tourism board Web site, will be a celebrity judge at the “Howl-O-Ween Kids & Pets Costume Parade and Contest” as well as the “Golden Gourds: Southwest Florida Has Talent” competition on Saturday, Oct. 24 and Sunday, Oct. 25.

Martin, who joins fellow judges Local Representatives to Miss Florida USA and Miss Florida Teen USA, is a Florida native and freelance writer; tireless in her efforts to discover – and report – the best places for families to stay and play in the state. With two young sons that accompany her on her travels, Martin is able to draw on her own experiences to give realistic insight to travelers. This will be her second trip to Southwest Florida in recent days.

“We are all so excited to be welcomed back to Paradise!” said Martin, who read about Pumpkin Fest and knew she “had to be involved.” She contacted planners, who didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity to make her a celebrity judge.

Lighthouse Island Resort on Fort Myers Beach stepped forward to offer accommodations. The Beached Whale, a popular restaurant also on Fort Myers Beach, was the first to offer complimentary meals to the family.

“We feel it is important to support family events in the Fort Myers Beach area,” said Beached Whale manager Eric Beck.

As if the Festival alone isn’t enough for Martin to write about, Salty Sam’s Pirate Cruise is sending the Martin Family on their Haunted Pirate Cruise. The friendly crew of pirates aboard the Pieces of Eight Pirate Ship is kicking off Pumpkin Fest with 90-minute cruises full of thrills, chills, music and fun appropriate for all ages.

“We’re certainly a well-rounded family travel experience to write about,” said Festival organizer Lesley Marr, who has two boys of her own. “Our hope is that everyone comes down to show Jill that you support family fun on Fort Myers Beach.”

Pumpkin Fest planners have been very pleased with the interest and spirit of community shown by all of the Fort Myers Beach businesses, but by hotels, motels and condo vacation resorts in particular. Bringing these accommodations together to run a Florida internet marketing campaign has proven so successful that the campaign has been extended to run through the International Sand Sculpting Festival in November.

Dennis Greenspon, owner of Cottages of Paradise Point, is one of the participants in the internet campaign. Recognizing the great opportunity, he called within minutes of the initial announcement to join.

“The internet campaign does give more value to my advertising dollar, but more importantly, by involving a number of Fort Myers Beach accommodations we are giving potential guests a wonderful variety to choose from. Add to that a unifying of the Beach, and this is a ‘win’ situation for everyone.” Greenspon said. “As far as Pumpkin Fest goes, I’m looking forward to it. This is a great opportunity for families to spend time together and have some fun.”

And that is what the Beach is all about.

The First Annual Fort Myers Beach Art & Pumpkin Festival will be located on Fort Myers Beach, in the bay area of Times Square by Fountain Park. Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, with evening events at local establishments.

For more information, please visit www.PumpkinFestontheBeach.com.