By ED FRANKS
More than 7,500 people are expected to flock to the German American Social Club for the 20th annual MangoMania Tropical Fruit Fair this weekend. The two-day event is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“MangoMania celebrates the harvest of Pine Island’s mangoes and other tropical fruit,” Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce Director Jennifer Jennings said. “We’ve spent the last several months planning and getting ready for these incredibly fun-filled days for the entire family.
“The two-day event features more than 100 vendors and contests for ‘kids of all ages,'” Jennings said. “We have adult and kids’ pie eating contests, contests for the largest mango, mango hat decorating contests, Mr. Mango Head decorating, a mango throw and professional and amateur food contests.
“Among the vendors, we will have a wide variety of foods,” Jennings continued. “Everything from smoked mullet (smoked by Olde Fish House in Matlacha), fish tacos and other great foods. For those who are not seafood people, we have Polish sausage, hamburgers, BBQ chicken, pulled pork and pizza.”
The festival will feature a variety of “adult” beverages as well.
“For the adults, we have some ‘cool’ sweet-tasting mango drinks this year,” Jennings said. “Back by popular demand we have our ‘adult beverages’ that were very popular last year. Budweiser’s specially mixed Mango Beer and other draft beers will be available. This year you will also be able to enjoy an ice cold craft beer by Budweiser and Dr. Watson’s special mixture of mango drinks plus non-alcohol smoothies for the kids.”
MangoMania always kicks off Saturday morning with the singing of the national anthem followed by the “Pledge of Allegiance” and the Color Guard from the Pine Island American Legion Post #136.
Entertainment this year includes a mix of blues/rock and Latin music. Saturday’s artists will be Trailer Park Barbie and the Boys, Ben Jarrell & The Wildwood Weeds, Chasing Dallas and the Hot Flashz Dancers. Sunday’s lineup will be Ben Prestage, Pine Island Dance and more.
The mango tasting tent is always very busy with many varieties of freshly cut Pine Island mangoes.
“Pine Island grows about 50 of the best- tasting varieties right here on the island,” Jennings said. “Make sure to stop by, try them and select your favorite mango flavor.
“We also always have educational talks about tropical plants, palms, art and lots more,” Jennings said. “And, we’ll have tropical plants and trees for sale.”
After enjoying a little music, food and drink, attendees will be able to check out a number of vendors selling goods: Traders Hitching Post with unique Native American jewelry, turquoise and silver bracelets that are all handcrafted; Great Licks Ice Cream with special recipe of Mango Ice Cream; Paradise Garden with fresh jams and jellies, C & W Fudge will be offering homemade Mango Popcorn and Mango Fudge; and JMC Landscaping will offer mango trees, tropical trees, citrus trees and other beautiful plants.
Mango Queen Summer Dooley will greet attendees and run all of the kid’s contests. Event tickets are only $6 at the gate, $5 in advance, with kids 10 and under free.
Advance tickets can be purchased on the event website www.MangoManiaFL.net or at the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce office at 3640 Pine Island Road, Matlacha, Florida 33993. Program guides will be distributed at the entrance.
The Chamber of Commerce and the MangoMania Committee have extended “a huge thank you” to the sponsors of this year’s event: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, LCEC, Tarpon Lodge, Budweiser, The News-Press, Ad&PrintCraft, Hole In One, Pine Island Eagle and Cape Coral Breeze, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Honc Industries.
For more information, call the GPICC at 239-283-0888 or log on to www.MangoManiaFL.net.