By Dianna Dohm
The island’s most attended and highly anticipated event, the annual Seafood & Music Festival, returns on March 24-26 to Veteran’s Community Park in the center of Marco Island.
It has been eight years since Stan Niemczyk, a Rotarian with the Marco Island Sunrise Rotary club, realized his dream for a major fundraiser, and created the Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival. Like his fellow Rotarians, Stan was always looking for new projects to raise money for charities and the less fortunate in our community.
Stan realized that his small club could not possibly organize such a large undertaking on their own. That brought the novel idea to look for cooperation with not only the other Rotary Club on the island, but also the very active Kiwanis Club. This proved to be a wise decision, and the Marco Island Seafood & Music Festival was born.
Over the years the event has grown from a two-day Seafood Festival to a three-day Seafood & Music Festival that has become the largest yearly single event on Marco Island, with some 10,000 visitors annually. The organization is handled by a small core group of voluntary members of the three service clubs and over 200 volunteers during the three-day entertainment and seafood extravaganza.
A wide variety of seafood (and some landlubbers fare) will be available. New this year will be lobster meals and lobster rolls from locally owned Bill’s Steak & Seafood in Naples, as well as offers from Pinchers Crab House on Marco Island. More than sixty handcrafters and artists will offer their wares and crafts.
Musical entertainment is planned all day long. The three headliners are the Ben Allen Band (Friday 6-9 PM), Caribbean Chillers (Saturday 6-9 PM), and Rick & The Speed Bumps (Sunday 2-5 PM).
New this year is a VIP experience, in cooperation with the Seminole Casino Hotel. For $60 seating in a reserved partially covered area with prime viewing of the entertainment is offered. The VIP ticket is valid for all three days of the festival. VIPs will receive tickets for a Maine lobster meal from the concession of Naples’ Bill’s Steak & Seafood Restaurant at the festival. The VIP ticket also includes four drink tickets.
The festival opens on Friday, March 24th at 11 AM, closing at 9.PM. It will continue on Saturday from 11 AM to 9 PM, and on Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM.
There is ample parking at the festival grounds. However, free bus transportation is offered on Friday and Saturday along Collier Boulevard from Veterans Community Park and return. Look for exact routing on the website (www.marcoislandseafoodandmusicfestival.com) and stop the bus anywhere along this route.
There will only be limited VIP tickets available and it is strongly advised to purchase them in advance from the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, or call their office at 239-394-7459.
Regular tickets are $10 for one day, or $16 for two days of your choice. Kids under 12 are free.
For more information go to www.marco