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Taste of North Fort Myers draws a hungry crowd

By Staff | Apr 10, 2019

The Taste of North Fort Myers is where you not only got to taste great food, but you got a taste of live music and good ol’ Florida southern vibes this past weekend.

The North Fort Myers community is unlike any other in Southwest Florida, and you could feel the difference at the fifth annual Taste of North Fort Myers at Shell Factory held Sunday.

The event hosted local nonprofits, small businesses and corporations alike, and local restaurants. The North Fort Myers Chamber Foundation organized the event to raise scholarship funds for students in North Fort Myers.

Featured were a raffle for door prizes and baskets to go toward the scholarships.

At the same time, other vendors took the opportunity to draw awareness to their own causes as well other causes.

“Today we are doing a fundraiser for the Gulf Coast Humane Society and Autism Awareness,” said Paula Marquis with Liberty Tax in North Fort Myers.

But it also was, of course, about the food – everything from authentic Caribbean deep fry to no nonsense southern barbecue.

We’re talking about Caribbean Flair grill, owned by Jamaican natives Rupert and Marvia Powell.

“We make ours from scratch,” said Rupert Powell, while deep-frying homemade conch fritters.

The Powells are in the process of relocating their restaurant on Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers.

Also present was Smokin’ Jack’s barbecue, where Patrick Jackson showed demonstrated where the “Magic Happens” behind the grill.

Meanwhile, Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association President Josh Burdine couldn’t resist drenching his barbecue sandwich in a variety of barbecue sauces.

“I came here for the food and the awesome fun and the band is amazing and it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day, too,” he said.

And that it was.

Minus, maybe, the humongous ice cream cup melting down your arm in the hot sun.

“I should have gotten the small!” said Joann Sullivan, alongside her husband Dan Sullivan, who came to listen to music and enjoy some food.

She was referring to a Strawberry Sunday that was “way too big” from food vendor Shake Rattle and Roll.

Perhaps the best thing, besides the icecream and pastries at Lake Placid’s Shake Rattle and Roll, was that it was run by two sister-in-laws with almost the same name: Ginny Pack and Jenny Pack.

They are sweet, sunshiny, and can run a mean food truck.

While there’s nothing officially country about that, it just felt “country.”

And it’s not the Taste of North Fort Myers unless there’s a classic rock cover band made up of retired public safety servants and officials. We’re referring to classic rock band “Cray Z Joe,” who informed event-goers that it was actually “National Beer Day.”

Lance and Conny Curran came out from Port Charlotte just to see Cray-Z-Joe play.

Okay, and for food too.

“I heard the band was going to be there, there’s going to be music, and there’s going to be food from North Fort Myers, so we came to see it all,” said Curran. “We just love live music so we came to check it out.”

Also posted up at the event was the Amvet Post 81 North Fort Myers.

“We help veterans that come in and need furniture, wheelchairs, food. We also have a drive every Thursday where we get free food brought in,” said 2nd Vice Commander Lee Gordon.

“Any veteran that needs help can come and knock on our door. We have the stuff that can help them and if we don’t, we can find the phone numbers and personnel that we need that get it taken care of,” said Gordan, surrounded by his fellow veterans.

Do you ever notice these heroes are never alone? They always travel in packs, no man left behind. This is the kind of community that make you feel at home in these tiny pockets of Southwest Florida.

Longtime North Fort Myers locals are proud of their place of origin, and they want to keep it that way.

One of them is Vice President Danny Ballard of the North Fort Myers Civic Association.

“Our mission is to help North Fort Myers try to get back to North Fort Myers. To try to keep North Fort Myers like it’s been over the years,” said Ballard. “Naturally, we understand growth and there’s things that’s going to happen that’s out of our control.”

All told, the event featured 12 business vendors and seven food vendors as well as three sponsors.