Huge crowd turns out for MangoMania
One of the largest crowds ever for the event filled the German American Social Club grounds Saturday for Pine Island’s 22nd annual MangoMania Tropical Fruit Festival.
“Even though the temperatures are in the 90s, it seems we have a huge crowd,” Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Jennings said. “We have so many things planned and some great entertainment this year, I’m really excited at the turnout.
“It’s all about the mango and with the tasting tables this year, we have a great representation of Pine Island mangoes and tropical fruits,” Jennings added. “We have a number of new growers here and people seem to be gathering around to taste the different flavors of mangoes.”
This year the free tasting table was sponsored by The Gathering Grove in Bokeelia and people were lined up to taste mango. Karen Forkey and her husband, Lloyd, purchased 25 acres in Bokeelia and named the farm Gathering Groves.
“I’ve been away from Southwest Florida for 30 years,” Karen Forkey said. “I grew up in Naples and then left, married my husband and returned recently. Southwest Florida has changed so much since I’ve been away, I was looking for what I remember as ‘Old Florida’ and I found it here on Pine Island.
The Forkeys had a variety of mangos available.
“We are offering as many varieties and flavors of mangoes as we can,” Karen Forkey said. “We grow 28 flavors of mango on our farm in Bokeelia and have 9 or 10 different varieties and flavors here today.”
“I’ve heard of mango but had never tasted them before,” festival-goer Nancy Ward said. “We don’t have these in the Midwest and they’re really quite different and delicious.”
Guests were able to sample the best mangoes and were able to purchase different varieties of mangoes, fresh baked mango products, mangoes on a stick, mango tea, mango fudge, mango jams and even mango ice cream.
Mango Queen Kayla McGuire joined regional favorite Hot Flashz in a dance routine.
The Hot Flashz is an “over 45” dance troupe that is always a hit. Dancers spent 30 minutes entertaining the MangoMania crowd with maracas, song and dances. McGuire joined the dance team as its celebrity guest dancer.
“This is also the second year the Greater Pine Island Kiwanis Club is having its Mango Drop,” Jennings said. “Mango Drop tickets sold very fast and this year’s winner is Matlacha Hooker DJ Ruscik.
“I can’t tell you how happy we are with this year’s MangoMania,” Jennings said. “I love how well Pine Island has been represented and how so many people from our community are here today supporting this event and Pine Island.”