"This is the After-Hours Card Exchange that is also our MangoMania Kick-Off event," Jennifer Jennings, Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center director and MangoMania coordinator, said last Thursday. "The purpose today is to get all of our vendors in place, and to alert the community and to offer an opportunity to re-introduce our new Mango Queen - Valerie Hedman - to the Greater Pine Island area."
The hosts of the kick-off were CW Fudge Factory, Modern Woodmen, Olde Fish House and the Perfect Cup.
"This is very exciting for me," Hedman said. "You have to be nominated by a chamber member, Jennifer Jennings nominated me, then you go for an interview before the whole Board, and then they vote."
Mango Queen Valerie Hedman
Hedman is a full-time resident of Bokeelia and lives on her family's farm where they raise palm trees, livestock and, of course, mango trees. She has participated in MangoMania 2013, local Farmers Markets and events as a vendor selling her Island Mom's Jams.
"We love growing mangos on our land and making our delectable fruit into jams to share with everyone. Pine Island has the best mangos ever" Hedman said.
"This year MangoMania will be held Saturday, July 19, and Sunday, July 20," Jennings said. "Both days are just full of events for children and adults beginning with lectures on mangos, hat decorating and, of course, the hat parade, food contests (both professional and amateur), Hula- hoop contests, mango juggling contests and everybody's favorite, the Mango Pie eating contest."
She went on to say, "This year's entertainment includes Hot Flashz Dancers, Hipnauticals, Gators in the Sawgrass, Bonham528 and Calendar Girls. Everyone has worked very hard to make this year's events a success and it's all coming together nicely."