Mark your calendar, the 2014 Taste of Pine Island is this weekend Jan. 25 and 26. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The event takes place at the Bobby Holloway Memorial Baseball Field at Phillips Park, 5675 Sesame Drive, Bokeelia. Single day passes are $5 and two-day passes are $8. Children 10 and under are free.
There is also free onsite handicap parking and free offsite parking with bus transportation to and from the event.
The Taste of Pine Island is the primary fund-raiser for the Kiwanis Club of Greater Pine Island Youth Scholarship Fund. This year the club hopes to raise over $25,000 at the event to assist Pine Island students with their higher education costs. Since 1985, the Kiwanis Club has provided over $200,000 in scholarships and has helped other island organizations.
"The entertainment this year is exceptional," said Taste chairman Pat Burman. "Our feature band for Saturday is the Grayson Rogers Band. This band was named the 2013 Country Band of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Band of the Year at the Spot Magazine Awards in Southwest Florida. We are very excited that they were able to fit us in to their busy schedule."
Burman also highlighted the other scheduled performers.
"Strange Arrangement is back this year," Burman said. "These are two brothers Gregory and Warren, that perform 'local island Hip Hoppin Dance Music' for the masses. This is a group of friends and musicians experimenting with music and putting on a great show. This is a family-oriented performance for all ages.
"Back by popular demand we have the Wholetones," Burman said. "They are a Southwest Florida band that originated on Marco Island in 2007. They play a unique mix of Bluegrass, Folk, Jazz, and Metal all with acoustic instruments. They put on a captivating show."
Burman went on to say, "Pine Islander's will remember Pine Island Steel Drum from last year. Cameron Swartz at just 17 years old is one of the youngest performers to play at the Taste of Pine Island. Cameron attends North Fort Myers Middle School Academy and this is the second year he will be playing at the Taste.
"WildCaught band started as a duet last May featuring Brett Emerson and Michelle Bundy," Burman said. "They quickly grew to a six piece band. This is WildCaught's first time playing at the Taste of Pine Island! Their music is composed of original material, classic, country, bluegrass and everything in between.
In addition to the great entertainment, the Taste of Pine Island will feature over 100 local restaurants and craft vendors.
Some of the restaurants attending this year's event, and their dishes, are:
n Olde Fish House with all local fresh off the boat - smoked mullet, fish dip, crab cakes, lobster chowder, lobster salad sliders, fish tacos, gator gumbo, fried shrimp, buffalo shrimp.
n Red's Restaurant - still working on the menu but will have some of Pine Island best dishes. (Red's was the winner of the Chowder and Chili Cook-off contact in 2013)
n Jonesez - famous BBQ, chicken, ribs, pulled pork, dirty rice, collard greens, baked beans and cole slaw.
n Little Joe's - sausages, Philly steak, corn dogs, burgers, chicken on a stick, fries, hot dogs and gyros, chicken kebabs, Med rice, Greek salads and spinach pies
n Cabot Cheese - "The World's Best Cheddar." Sample Cabot Cheeses while supplies last.
"We have Fish Drop Tickets on sale," Burman said. "We also have a few arts and crafts spots open and want to encourage local businesses to participate in this year's event."
The annual seafood Chowder Cook-off contest will be held Saturday and the Chili Cook-off contest Sunday. This is where the professional cooks vie for cash prizes. Tickets to the event automatically make guests a judge in this well received contest, while supplies last.
Each participant will provide a sample of his/her chowder and chili for judging. Once the votes are tallied, the winner of the "People's Choice" award will be announced. Past winners of the People's Choice Award were the Waterfront Restaurant, which won in 2004, '05 and '06; the Lazy Flamingo restaurant in 2007; The Perfect Cup from Matlacha, Bokeelia Cracker Cafe and Reds Fresh Seafood in Bokeelia.
"We will also have the Kiwanis Tervis Tumbler this year," Burman said. "They are only $12 each. If you purchase the Kiwanis Tervis Tumbler along with the Kiwanis Famous Drink 'IWANAKIWANA' its only $16. You receive a beautiful Tervis Tumbler and a cool refreshing adult drink. Extra beverage when served with the tumbler. Stop by the 'IWANAKIWANA' Booth in the back of the park and let Carlyn Herring and her staff mix you one of the BEST drinks you have ever had. Proceeds from the sale of the Tervis Tumblers and also the 'IWANAKIWANA' goes to the Greater Pine Island Kiwanis Club Scholarship Program and other Island Youth Programs."
Some of the benefactors have included Pine Island Elementary School Junior Olympic, Student Educational Trips, Pine Island Little League, Mariner High School Project Graduation, Mariner High School Band, Pine Island Elementary Outstanding Student Awards, Pine Island Bike Path Oasis, Church Youth Groups, Pine Island Boy Scouts, Kiwanis Annual Youth Pool Party, Kiwanis Fall Festival, Pine Island Elementary School World Atlas Program, Pine Island Student Educational Trips and Robotics Team Octopi.
Lots of other vendors and organizations will be on hand. Firefighters from the Matlacha-Pine Island Fire Control District will be serving margaritas; Calusa Land Trust with island information; Capt. Dick May with Easy Rider Charters; Paradise Gardens with jarred tropical fruits; Pine Island Community Church youth group, who will be selling water; Tooth Fairy, Douglas Loccisano with fashion and sports; and so many more.?The Kiwanis offers a full field of games and rides for the kids. Spotlight Amusements will have bounce houses, rock climbing, strongman machine, bungie jumping, water ball racing and more. ?Among the highlights of the two-day event will be the Fish Drop. At 4 p.m Sunday, those holding tickets for this event will gather near a bullseye when more than a thousand brightly colored, numbered fish will be hoisted to the top of a crane and then dropped to the ground below. The person holding the numbered ticket of the fish that lands closest to the bullseye will be declared the winner. First place is $1,000, second place is $500 and third place is $250!
For more information visit: www.TasteofPineIsland.com
Sponsors for the 2014 Taste of Pine Island are: Kiwanis Club of Greater Pine Island Inc. Co-Sponsors are: Cambio Dermatology, Cabot Cheddar Cheeses, 96.9 More FM, 93X, 94.5 The Arrow, SunTrust Bank, Lee County Electric Co-op, Pine Island Water Assoc., Adams & Brinson, Attys., Champion Self Storage, Ad&PrintCraft Marketing & Printing, Budweiser, , Honc Industries, Capital Bank, Pine Island Realty, Inc., Pine Island Eagle, Cove Farms, Island Visions, Stonegate Bank and Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce.
The Kiwanis Club of Greater Pine Island has incorporated a canned food drive to be held at Taste of Pine Island. Burman is asking those who can to bring a few nonperishable food items or canned food for the local food pantry.
Burman would like to thank all who have helped make this event possible. The Pine Island Boy Scouts Troop 20 who have always done a very dirty job (trash removal for the two days event). To the Pine Island Community Youth Group who has always volunteered to help with park setup and final park cleanup. To those residents of Pine Island and the surrounding area who volunteer during the two day event. To the Kiwanis Members who setup and help at the event and to all of the people who come to the event and support our local Kiwanis Club. I hope you all enjoy yourselves at Taste of Pine Island 2014 and hope to see you all in 2015.
For information, call Burman at 239-283-0777