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Shell Shocked: Creating new crowd pleasing events on Sanibel

By ART STEVENS - | Nov 3, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Art Stevens

“Guys, we’re running out of ideas for fairs, art shows and exhibits. We’re dealing with a fickle public and visitors are forever demanding exciting new events. We’ve simply got to come up with more ideas if we’re to compete with other Florida tourist hot spots,” said the exasperated Sanibel Chamber of Commerce board member.

“Yes, it’s been a very strange year so far. Most of our usual arts and crafts, antiques, shell fairs and taste of the islands have either been postponed or turned into virtual presentations. Despite this we’ve got to find ways to attract visitors to Sanibel this coming winter to get our totals up. But the rumble is that other Florida tourist attractions are also coming up with similar venues. We’ve got to be inventive and come up with new ones.”

The board had set up a special meeting to plan ahead for next year. The members felt that Sanibel needed to be ahead of the curve and come up with new attractions to keep feeding the tourist and visitor pipeline. The board had established a special committee to come up with new ideas and the chairman of the committee addressed the board.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I feel your pain. Sanibel needs those visitor dollars. We’ve conducted research on the best attended events in the world and have come up with two that we want to do for Sanibel next year.”

The board leaned forward in anticipation. “The first event we want to put on the 2021 winter calendar is a Sanibel snoring exhibition.”

Total silence. A pin dropped and made no sound. The chairman of the committee looked around nervously. “Ladies and gentlemen, please don’t prejudge. You’ve got to hear us out. Snoring exhibitions are very popular in many parts of the world, including Russia, France and Italy.

“Here’s the way it works. After a huge mid-day meal, amplified with many glasses of wine, the participants quickly fall asleep and strut their stuff. The snoring talent quickly rises to the surface. The sounds range from trumpeting elephants to claps of thunder. They’re enthralling and attract crowds from throughout the area.”

One of the board members was unconvinced. “You’re telling us that a snoring exhibition would attract more crowds than arts and crafts and shells?”

The committee chairman began to feel a bit uneasy. “Well in Bulgaria they do. But we have a backup plan. We propose a special exhibit that has attracted record visitors in Kenya. It’s an exhibit of island mosquitoes. Mosquitoes play a proud part in Sanibel heritage and we don’t think the public appreciates the role of mosquitoes as much as it should.

“Our job will be to educate the public on how important mosquitoes are to the Sanibel environmental balance and put on display the various mosquito species that exist here. We’ll pack them in.”

The Sanibel Chamber of Commerce board politely asked the special committee to leave the room so that it could deliberate on the two options presented to it. The board quickly made a decision. It was unanimous. The special committee was disbanded and its members were whisked aboard a private jet and taken to a crazy idea protection program in Montana.