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Large crowd turns out for MangoMania Tropical Fruit Festival

By Staff | Jul 17, 2019

There was a large turnout over the weekend at the German American Club in Cape Coral for the 23rd annual MangoMania Tropical Fruit Festival.

“We are having temperatures in the 90s but it seems we won’t have any rain this year and we have a huge crowd,” Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce executive director Jennifer Jennings said on opening day. “We have so many things planned and some great entertainment this year I’m really excited at the great turnout.”

The slogan is “It’s all about the Mango” and this year the free tasting table was sponsored by The Gathering Grove in Bokeelia. 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 tasting table was quite busy as people lined up to taste mango, some for the first time.

“I’m from New Jersey and I don’t think I’ve ever tasted mango before,” Susan Wright said. “We have lots of other fruit but this is different. Some of them are very sweet and some are a little tart, but I like them.”

“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.”

Mango Queen DJ Ruscik, wearing her “Pine Island Reeboks,” greeted the crowd.

“We’re having a beautiful day and I’m having a wonderful time,” Ruscik said. “The weather is cooperating and I’ve met so many nice people.”

“This is also the third year the Greater Pine Island Kiwanis Club is having their Mango Drop,” Jennings said. “Mango Drop tickets sold very fast and this year’s winner is John Betts.”

“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.”

The annual event includes amateur and professional food contests, world’s largest mango contest, mango pie eating contest and several other contests. .