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MangoMania returning to Pine Island

By PAULETTE LeBLANC - | Jun 17, 2021

pleblanc@breezenewspapers.com

The Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce is bringing MangoMania back to the island.

The tropical fruit festival will be held Saturday, July 17, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Fishers of Men Lutheran Church, at 10360 Stringfellow Road, St James City.

According to board member Cynthia Welch, the GPICC-sponsored event is back on the island where it began over 20 years ago. The tropical fruit festival, focused on mangoes and mango-derived cuisine, was moved to the German American Club in Cape Coral a number of years ago.

In years past, proceeds from the event went a long way toward helping maintain the chamber.

“We’re a small chamber,” said Welch, “we can’t expect our members to pay high membership fees, so MangoMania was our main fundraiser.”

Because of the pandemic, the two-day event was cancelled in 2020, and has now become a “mini” one-day event this year. Since the chamber has sold the building it had on Pine Island Road, the business organization finds itself in a different position financially. Revenue now, Welch said, is primarily for promotion of both the island and chamber members.

The two-day event, Welch said, was too hard on members, who are business people with likely reduced staff for the summer, too busy with their own work to volunteer to help with the event.

“We thought if we downsize and make it smaller, we wouldn’t need as many volunteers,” said Welch. “Also, everyone has wanted us to bring the event back to the island.”

This year’s MangoMania tropical fruit festival, Welch said, will include, among other things, family activities and food contests, where you can enter your very own homemade mango-jam or mango-bread, to see if yours is the best Pine Island has to offer. There will also be, as always, a crowned Mango Queen.

“DJ Rusik is our Mango Queen,” said Welch. “She has a court of helpers. They host the contest, as well as other contests like mango juggling, mango head, like Mister Potato Head, only with mangoes.”

Normally, preparations for the event would begin in January, but they only recently received official event approval to host this as an on-island event, Welch explained. There is a maximum of 50 vendors, although the chamber would like anyone interested in being an event vendor to call the chamber office at 239-283-0888. Spaces are available indoors and outdoors. The chamber is looking for vendors selling food, plants, arts and crafts and clothing, as well as businesses advertising their services.

Because of the limited space, the chamber asks that potential vendors please sign up as soon as possible.