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Gumbo Fest returns to Shell Factory this Sunday

By Staff | Jan 21, 2015

It has become one of the premier events in the area, and once again the Shell Factory & Nature Park will play host.

The 13th annual Gumbo Fest is coming Sunday, Jan. 25, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., sponsored by Sam Galloway Ford, and there promises to be more gumbo than the expected thousands in attendance can possibly eat.

Unlike last year, when two eateries offered gumbo (and eventually ran out), there will be seven restaurants offering the dish, according to Rick Tupper, CFO and marketing director of the Shell Factory.

Among those offering gumbo will be the Cajun Bowl, the Shrimp Lady, Blue Crawfish (which served it up last year), and Fisherman’s Pub, Tupper said.

“We’ll be making our gumbo, too, but this year we wanted a few more restaurants involved,” Tupper said. “There will be a couple making wings, pulled pork sliders and Spam sliders (which John Finstrom will offer).”

Captain Fishbone’s will be open, offering a limited menu, Tupper said. There will also be all sorts of traditional festival food, such as kettle corn.

The Cajun dish may be the star, but there also will be all sorts of specials and activities throughout the day.

This year’s event will feature two live bands headlined by the Bayou Boys with special guest Shake, Rattle & Soul.

Admission is free with lots of children’s activities and a great day of fun for the entire family.

There will also be a bounce house and caramel apples for the kids, and the Fun Park and the popular Soaring Eagle Zip Line will be open.

Children will also have free admission to the Nature Park with a paid adult or senior admission. As usual, all proceeds benefit The Nature Park Environmental Foundation which provides transportation for Lee County school students to visit the park.

It is during Gumbo Fest that the new Nature Park aviary is expected to be open and dedicated to Sam Galloway, who has been a huge supporter of the event, Tupper said.

“I believe this will be our largest Gumbo Fest ever,” Tupper said. “Gumbo Fest has become a real family event and we will continue with our strategy as the No. 1 family entertainment destination in Southwest Florida,”

Tupper said he’s sure they won’t run out of gumbo this year after last year’s 450 gallons all got eaten, not including what Blue Crawfish made.

“We plan for about 4,000 and I really feel we’ll exceed that this year. We had 4,000 last year and they stayed for most of it,” Tupper said.

The Shell Factory is at 2787 North Tamiami Trail

Admission and parking will be free. For more info, visit www.shellfactory.com for directions and event schedule.