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Residents get ready to celebrate the 24th annual Baileyfest on Oct. 25

By Staff | Oct 22, 2009

Get togethers, food and fun and games are a way of life on the Sanibel and Captiva.

Island patriarch Sam Bailey has found a way to combine all of these into one all-islands event – Baileyfest.

The 24th annual Baileyfest will be held on Sunday, Oct. 25 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Bailey’s Center, located on the corner of Periwinkle Way and Tarpon Bay Road.

The stage will run from 1 p.m. and feature acts from local performers such as The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theatre, BIG ARTS, The Sanibel School Steel Drum Band, Ring of Emerald dancers, Jennifer Valiquette (saxophone player) and more.

Joe Feeney, a name known to many islanders will be the MC of the event.

The family-oriented event will include food and beverages, crowning of the Baileyfest King and Queen, mule and wagon rides, a bounce house, miniature golf and traditional games, including an egg and spoon race, cornhole, hula hoop contest, tin can alley and fastest pitch.

A pumpkin carving contest is being sponsoring at this year’s Baileyfest.

Anyone who participates in the Baileyfest 2009 Pumpkin Carving Contest will receive a free pumpkin. Contestants need to buy a pumpkin from Bailey’s General Store between now and Sunday, Oct. 25 and keep their receipt. Contestants are asked to bring their carved pumpkin and receipt to the customer service desk inside Bailey’s for a full refund any time on Saturday or Sunday morning.

The winner will be announced at 3:30 p.m. at Baileyfest and will receive a freshly cooked turkey from Bailey’s General Store.

“It’s like an old-fashioned picnic,” Sam Bailey said.

Bailey’s no nonsense voice softened as he recalled years of celebrating Baileyfest. He said the children delight over the Sanibel and Captiva Fire Department trucks. Firefighters bring the trucks to the event as a display for the children. There are pony rides for the children as well.

“Anytime someone is enjoying something it makes me happy,” Bailey said.

And Bailey focuses his energies to keep Baileyfest, a fun island event.

“That’s who we look for the islanders,” he said.

For islanders like Helen Taylor Baileyfest represents a time when she can socialize and see lots of friendly faces.

“It’s a community thing,” she said. “That’s what wonderful about it.”

Lindsay Rizzo’s eyes lit up at hearing Baileyfest. The little girl looks forward to one part in particular.

“I like the ponies,” she said.

Baileyfest is also a time for merchants in the Bailey Center to spend time together and have fun with their customers.

Queenie Viglione will be bringing pints of her ice cream to the event. Queenie typically delivers her ice cream to selected outlets including Bailey’s but rarely gets to interact with customers – except at Baileyfest.

“I love it because it gives me the chance to meet the customers,” she said.

Dan Schuyler and Karen Bell, co-owners of Lily & Co. Jewelers, are the newest members of the Bailey’s Center Merchant Association.

This year Schuyler said they are in charge of the pony rides – a duty he considers and honor – even the clean-up.

“The kids get so excited seeing the ponies,” Schuyler said.

All proceeds gathering during the event will benefit Sanibel and Captiva non-profit organizations such as CROW, F.I.S.H. and SCCF.