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18th annual Gumbofest returns to Shell Factory Sunday

By Staff | Jan 22, 2020

Gumbofest returns to the Shell Factory for its 18th year this Sunday, running from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with live music, raffles and, of course, gumbo options aplenty.

“We have been pretty lucky. We went 17 years without a rainout. So, we’re hoping for good luck this year,” general manager Anne Sheridan said.

During its best years, Gumbofest has brought in as many as 7,000 people, making it the biggest event of the year at the North Fort Myers attraction.

Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers will again headline the music, with The Porchdogs (Spicy Accordion-Driven Zydeco Music) opening the show.

Also, B103.9-FM’s Big Mama will broadcast live from noon to 2 p.m., a first for the event. Also new this year, children and adults can enjoy a carousel ride for $1. Also, one child admission is free to the Nature Park with a paid adult or senior admission.

The event will also feature a $5,000 reverse raffle, meaning the last person drawn is the winner. The first ticket will be drawn at 1 p.m. and continue until the last is drawn. Tom Cronin started the reverse raffle four years ago as a fundraiser for the Nature Park Education Foundation.

Tickets for the raffle are $100 and includes admission for two adults to the sponsors tent, which includes food and adult beverages. You need not be present to win.

But the main attraction, of course will be that roux-based dish loaded in shellfish, chicken or sausage that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century.

Thousands are expected to come out to work up a sweat eating the spicy goodness of crawdaddies, okra and the “holy trinity” of vegetables – celery, bell peppers, and onions.

Not only will Capt ‘n Fishbones be serving gumbo, but so will 10 other food vendors, meaning there should be plenty of gumbo for everybody, not to mention jambalaya from Jambaliars, along with jello shots.

“In order to be at Gumbofest, you have to make gumbo, and we expect to have more gumbo than ever,” Sheridan said. “We had a year where we ran out of gumbo, we were so busy. We shouldn’t have that this year.”

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Nature Park Education Foundation, which keeps the nature park in prime condition and pays for buses for field trips for elementary school students. The event is sponsored by Sam Galloway Ford.

Admission is free. The Shell Factory is at 16554 N. Cleveland Ave. For more information, call 995-2141.