Beach ‘N Brews, Welcome Center Benefit

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    If your vision of Paradise includes cold craft brews, hot music and tasty food on one of Southwest Florida’s most fantastic beaches, then the inaugural “Beach ‘N Brews” fundraiser on November 8th from 5-9pm, hosted by The Friends of Lovers Key State Park (FOLKS) to benefit the future Welcome & Discovery Center is for you!

    Beach ‘N Brews tickets are $50-per-person, and includes free craft beer samples all night, along with a commemorative cup from 6 to 9 p.m. VIP Tickets are $75-per-person for an extra hour of fun, from 5 to 9 p.m. VIP guests will be on the beach to view the sunset at 5:40 p.m., with private restrooms, gazebo seating and a gift bag, with a limited number of VIP tickets available.

    Local breweries participating are Big Blue Brewing, Coastal Dayz Brewing, Fort Myers Brewing, Millennial Brewery, Momentum Brewery, Naples Beach Brewery and Riptide Brewing, along with food trucks from Cajun Gringos and The Doghouse. All proceeds benefit the Welcome & Discovery Center that breaks ground later this fall and opens in spring 2021. The cofounders of Captains For Clean Water, Dan Andrews and Chris Wittman, will judge the Beer Competition!

    “Lovers Key State Park (LKSP) is annually between the 2nd and 4th most visited site in the entire Florida State Park System,” explained Event Chair Megan Zelenak Allers. “We average slightly more than one million visitors, yet accomplish this without any indoor facility for environmental education, history, public programs, community events, rentals or creature comforts for guests, so the Welcome & Discovery Center will fill all those necessities and more!” Tickets may be purchased at eventbrite.com. for more information, visit Facebook, email events@friendsofloverskey.org or call 239-463-4588.

    Welcome & Discovery Center  

    While the State of Florida committed $4 million to construct the Welcome & Discovery Center, FOLKS pledged to raise an additional $1.5 million for its educational exhibits from Split Rock Studios from St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as providing all the building’s necessary furnishings.

    “We designed the exhibits so visitors can follow their own individual curiosity,” said Deb Voorhees, Executive Director of FOLKS, “as each display serves as a stand-alone exhibit, meaning you never worry about losing the narrative to understand what is going on. There is plenty of space between displays to accommodate large crowds on rainy summer days as well as for mobility issues. We have overhead clouds and seagulls suspended from the ceiling to give it a feeling of space.”

    Exhibit area displays will focus on various aspects of the park, such as its history, what it means to be a barrier island, estuary information and recreational activities, along with a Gift Shop and office. “Visitors will understand that this land goes back to the Calusa Indians or possibly even before, and how the State of Florida, Carl E. Johnson and Lee County preserved it from development to become this public treasure that we all enjoy,” Voorhees offered. “Exhibits will feature mounted photographs and objects like shells used by native peoples or gear from fishing camps, to provide visual cues for each time period, so visitors know that LKSP is much more than an amazing beach. We want them saying, ‘Oh My Gosh – there is so much to see and do here!’”

    There will be an interactive barrier island map exhibit, Voorhees added, “to orient people to where they and the park are, with graphic panels pointing out various habitats to explore, along with recreational opportunities. The Welcome Desk has a fishing shack theme and rustic look, and other components will be full of fun moments of discovery, like the critters that live here, what you will encounter near the water, and the park’s various environments. What will attract everyone’s immediate attention will be the lifesize manatee sculpture at the entrance, with the adult 13 feet and calf five feet. I predict this becomes the face of the Welcome & Discovery Center, with everyone taking photographs that will show up on Social Media all across the world! The Welcome & Discovery Center is a labor of love, as we love presenting the story of Lovers Key State Park!”

    Disclosure: The Author is a FOLKS  Board Member.