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Shell Festival sizzles

By Staff | Mar 15, 2013

SHANNEN HAYES Volunteer Ann DiRico stands watch over the Shell Festival goodies on display.

Island residents, visitors and guests flocked to the Sanibel Community House grounds for three days last weekend to take in the sights, sounds and artistic renderings of the 76th Sanibel Shell Festival.

“Attendance was up this year, though it is hard to count since we charge no admission outside,” said event chairman for the Sanibel Community Association Tyler Schoenherr. “The inside show was up a bit as well.”

The festival was good for the Community Association, too. It’s one of the top fundraising events of the year.

“From the aspect of fundraising, we made a little over $68,000 this year, which is more than last year,” said Schoenherr. “We are very much pleased. It was a great success.”

The Shell Festival has garnered a world wide reputation during its 76 years.

“We had three artists from Japan this year,” said Schoenherr. “Something new and different. Yasutaka Fukuda volunteered to set up a demonstration booth outside where anyone could go and make something for free. And he gave it away. He’s a wonderful gentleman. One of the other artists, who displayed their work inside the Community House, said she will bring 12 of her students to the festival next year. She is one of the few in Japan teaching shell art. It’s a new medium for them.”

The event started by Hallie “Granny” Matthews in the lobby of her hotel had been known as the Sanibel Shell Fair and Shell Show throughout its history until the name was changed this year.

The Sanibel Captiva Shell Crafters toil all year to produce the world-class, prize-winning shell items that were displayed for casual collectors, admirers and die-hard connoisseurs.