The 18th annual MangoMania Tropical Fruit Fair will be held Saturday, July 19, and Sunday July 20, at the German American Social Club on Pine Island Road. Saturday's hours will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday's hours will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"This year we will feature Pine Island's largest mango, and lots of arts, crafts, gifts, novelties, T-shirts and recipe books," Jennifer Jennings, event coordinator, said. "Games and children activities, plus some of the best tropical fruit growers in Southwest Florida. This will be our 18th MangoMania and each year we try to make this a bigger and better event. We are here to showcase the incredible diversity that Pine Island has to offer and to promote our growers of not only mangos but all kinds of tropical fruit."
Jennings re-configured the layout last year by keeping the vendors along the walking paths.
One of the entries in last year’s Hat Contest at MangoMania.
"This way we were able to accommodate more vendors and offer a wider variety of merchandise and services," Jennings said. "It also made it easier for people to get to everything." All Pine Island residents will receive a $1 discount at the gate (from $6 to $5) must show ID.
More than 100 vendors will line the walkways this year. There will be mango and tropical fruit specialties and tastings and this year's Mango Queen Valerie Hedman will be in attendance.
A new feature at this year's MangoMania is the Dizzy Mango Mania Spin Raffle - one ticket for $5 or five tickets for $20. The grand prize winner gets $1,000, second place $500 and third place gets $250... and you don't need to be present to win.
Opening ceremonies will be conducted by the American Legion's Doug Floweree on Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m.
Saturday's entertainment will include: Trailer Park Barbie & The Boys, Mr. Mango head, Flashz Dancers, Mango Hoola Hoop contest & kids pie eating contest, Generation Gap Relay, HipNauticals Band & Mango Juggling.
Sundays entertainment will include: It's All about the Mango, Hat Decorating contest, Strange Arrangement, Wholetones, Hoola Hoop contest, Mango Corn Hole contest, Calendar Girls, Mango Pie Eating contest, Bonham 528 and Mango Spin Raffle.
There will be several familiar food contests: Amateur Jellies and Jams, Chutney/Relish/Salsa
Professional restaurants will compete with appetizers, entrees and desserts, and there will be the "world famous" mango pie eating contest.
As always, Pine Island's culinary delights will be served. Mulletville will be serving coconut shrimp, slaw, cheesecake mango, crab cakes, bacon wrap shrimp and shrimp tacos.
Saltwater Smokehouse will be serving its seafood gumbo, smoked pork sliders with mango barbecue sauce, coconut shrimp tacos with mango salsa and key lime-mango pie.
Olde Fish House will serve gator gumbo, shrimp cakes with mango salsa, snapper tacos with chipolte mango sauce, lobster salad sliders, smoked fish dip, smoked mullet, crab cakes and mango cheesecake with strawberry sauce.
Educating consumers is a big part of MangoMania and several tropical fruit vendors will offer educational sessions. Doug Floweree will present "It's All About the Mango" Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10:30.
Last year, Steve Cucura, a native of Virginia who moved to Pine Island to grow mangos about 16 years ago, answered questions about mangos. His mango farm is Fruit Scapes, at 92 Ficus Tree Lane, Bokeelia. He explained why mangos grow so well here in Florida.
"Mangos grow well in Southwest Florida because the climate here is similar to their native climates in India and Southeast Asia." Cucura said. "There are thousands of varieties worldwide and maybe a hundred here on Pine Island. I grow about 50 of the best tasting varieties. Some taste like pineapple, some taste like peach and some taste like coconut or lemon. My favorite is Him-Sager but the one I sell the most of is Valencia Pride."
The 2014 Mango Mania Tropical Fruit Festival is sponsored by J.M.C. Landscaping, Lee County Electric Cooperative, Budweiser, the News Media Group, Fort Myers-Sanibel Tourist Development Council, Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce, Tarpon Lodge, Waste Pro, Honc Industries, The Pine Island Eagle Cape Coral Breeze, Ad Print Craft, Royal Tee Golf Club.