The German American Social Club was bursting at the seams Saturday as visitors flooded into the 12th Annual Southwest Florida Seafood Festival and Car Show, making it the best attended event since its inception.
"This is phenomenal," Matlacha Mariner Larry Scharnberger said. "Couldn't be better."
He said it is the largest attended festival and car show the Mariners have hosted.
NASCAR driver Geoffrey Bodine visits with an attendee of the Southwest Florida Seafood Festival and Car Show Saturday afternoon, as well as sign autographs and take photographs with those who brought a camera.
"Very pleased," Scharnberger said.
This year the event was held a month earlier than in previous years, which he said helped with the increased attendance because more people are visiting the area.
Individuals who attended the event had the opportunity to stroll through many rows of cars of various makes and models, as well as time periods, grab a bite to eat from one of the many food vendors, listen to live music by Deb & the Dynamics and Soapbox and visit one of the many vendors.
This year Miceli's Restaurant and Red's Fresh Seafood House & Tavern were the two Pine Island restaurants who participated in the event. Scharnberger said there was a constant line of people waiting to try Red's food all day.
He said he believes having Deb & the Dynamics also attracted the large crowd because of their followers, as well as Soapbox.
In addition, NASCAR fans had the opportunity to talk to driver Geoffrey Bodine, get his autograph and have a picture taken with him during the event Saturday afternoon.
Wounded Warrior Angler Founder David Souders said the event had been a great success for them.
"One of our best days," he said of the boat raffle ticket sales.
The non-profit organization sold raffle tickets for an 18-foot Nautic Star, 1810 Nautic Bay boat, courtesy of the owner of Fort Myers Marine, during the event.
"It's good to see a lot of people come out," he said.
Cape Coral resident Patty Dobbins, who used to live on Pine Island for many years, waited in traffic on Pine Island Road for 45 minutes before entering the event Saturday.
The Cape Coral Police helped control traffic into the German American Social Club due to the crowd and asked the Matlacha Mariners to open every entry to help the flow of traffic.
Dobbins said she has attended the event every year since it began.
"I love it," she said. "It started off so small and has gotten so big."
Dobbins said she enjoys the event because of the great food, great music and great people.
"What the Mariners do with the money is so tremendous," she said of the profits made during the event.
Cape Coral resident Ken Smith has also attended the event for many years.
"I come to this every year," he said. "The weather, people, cars, food, it's the whole package."
Although he was disappointed that that tap beer ran out during the event, Smith said the event was great.
Dave Winfield, a Cape Coral resident, decided to attend the event for the second time on Saturday. He said the cars are what attracts him to the event because he owns a couple older cars back in Michigan.
"A great event," he said of the 12th Annual Southwest Florida Seafood Festival and Car Show. "This is real good."
Although he enjoys the older Fords, he said he enjoyed looking at the mixture of older and newer cars featured at the show as well.