Thousand of Southwest Floridians are expected to bring an open mind and an empty stomach to the Shell Factory this Sunday for the Taste of Fort Myers from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Hyatt Place of Fort Myers at the Forum presents the Taste of North Fort Myers, which is also sponsored by the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce.
Event-goers will be able to sample dozens of local specialties from area vendors, and even vote on their favorites. Awards will be given for best overall, the favorite sweet treat, and the best decorated vending booth.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Jackson said he will have between 12 and 15 restaurants at the event, showing off their wares.
"This is a wonderful, family friendly event. When you throw in some of the area's finest restaurants it becomes even more wonderful," Jackson said. "We'll have places like the Firehouse Sports Grill, Cimini's, and the chefs from Seminole Casino in Immokalee."
The event will provide these eateries a chance to build more clientele by making their favorite dishes - with most being priced at $5 or less - and passing out coupons and other incentives to bring customers in the door, Jackson said.
"It's great for the restaurants because they get to showcase their finest food items and people find out they like this restaurant so let's go there," Jackson said. "We want to make sure they can afford a taste of a roast beef sandwich or lasagna."
Wanda Wise, co-owner of Firehouse Sports Grill, believes this will definitely be a plus.
"This will give us more exposure, let people know what we're about and what we have to offer," Wise said. "We are involved in a lot of fund-raisers for kids in the area."
There also will be free games and activities for the kids including a bounce house, balloon guy, petting zoo and more.
The free entertainment will be provided by DaBomb Productions, plus the famed Calendar Girls, a group of 50+ dancers, will be doing a fun salute to NASCAR.
A collector car show also will be on site, as well as a local business expo and Bingo for prizes, and raffles.
Also, the Shell Factory shops will be open.
Among the prizes will be trips on the Key West Express.
"We try to keep it in mind to keep it fun and inexpensive. We have the petting zoo from the Nature Center, the Huffmasters Center of Music, and Learning will perform for an hour," Jackson said.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lee County.
The Shell Factory will also be open throughout the day, with beer, wine and mixed drinks available at the four bars of the Shell Factory.
Admission is $2, with children under 10 free.
For additional information, contact the chamber at 997-9111.