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Taste of the Beach returns May 2

By NATHAN MAYBERG - | Apr 29, 2021

A waiter from The Salty Crab takes a splashing during the server competition held at the 2017 Taste of the Beach festival. The server competition returns this year at Salty Sam's Marina on Main Street. FILE PHOTO

nmayberg@breezenewspapers.com

After taking a break last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 25th annual Taste of the Beach is set to return May 2 at Salty Sam’s Marina with more than a dozen local restaurants participating.

“We’re thrilled again to be able to offer an in-person event that brings people together and showcases some of the best food on the island,” Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce President Jacki Liszak said.

The popular food festival held on Fort Myers Beach will include approximately 30 vendors, a beer garden, the famous server competition and live music from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Collaboration Band will headline the musical performers, which also includes Sounds of Steel.

Local restaurants will serve samples of their best signature dishes available for purchase. They will be competing for Taste of the Beach awards including; Best Appetizer, Best Dessert, Best Chicken Entrée, Best Surf Entree, Best Turf Entree, Best Vegetarian/Vegan, Best Decorated Booth and the People’s Choice award.

A panel of “celebrity” judges will judge the food competitors. The winners will be announced on the main stage at 4 p.m.

Lee County Boating will be handling the people’s choice awards.

In addition to the food, the spirited server competition will return, pitting server teams from local Fort Myers Beach restaurants against each other, vying for the coveted Best Server Team award.

“It’s a really a fun, casual day,” Liszak said.

Liszak said the vendors will include everything from art to clothing and jewelry. Local artist Chester Rogers will be on hand.

“A lot of our nonprofits from the island are going to be there” as well, Liszak said. They include the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation, Friends of Lovers Key and Kiwanis Club, who will have informational booths set up. San Carlos Bay Power Squadron will be on hand to speak about boating safety.

The Fort Myers Beach Tastes of the Beach festival has been held at various locations on San Carlos Island and Estero Island over the years. This year, it returns to San Carlos Island and will be held in the parking lot of the Original Shrimp Dock Bar & Grill at 2500 Main Street. Parking will be across the street in the field across from Salty Sam’s Marina.

Advance tickets and discount ticket packages will be available on the chamber’s website at https://www.fortmyersbeach.org/events/taste-of-the-beach. There are family packs, tasting packs, party packs and food lovers packs to save on costs.

Tickets will also be available on-site, at the front entrance, the day of the event. Food tickets are $1 each, with the average plate from participating restaurants costing an estimated $5. The admission fee is $5, benefiting the Chamber.

All restaurants in the Fort Myers Beach surrounding area are invited to participate. There is still time for restaurants and businesses to sign up and participate by calling the Chamber at 239-454-7500 or emailing events@fmbchamber.com.

A panel of celebrity judges will do the honors of judging the food competitors. Winners will be announced from the main stage at 4 p.m. Along with tasty treats from the competing restaurants, the “spirited and lively” competition will return, pitting server teams from local restaurants against each other, vying for the coveted “best server team” award. Liszak said the servers will have to navigate an obstacle course to serve guests as part of the competition. “It changes every year,” she said.

Liszak said the event marks the end of a “very busy” tourist season on Fort Myers Beach. She said businesses reported a better or equal year to 2019, which was considered one of the busiest on the island.