24th Annual Taste of The Beach
For the past six months, seasonals and visitors from all across the planet savored the delicious delicacies of the many fabulous Fort Myers Beach restaurants! With the majority of season now in the island’s collective rear view mirror, now is the time that island residents can treat their taste buds as well, with the 24th Annual “Taste of The Beach” on Old San Carlos Boulevard on Sunday, May 5, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5, with kids 12 & under free; food tickets are $1 each, with an average plate costing approximately $5.
“We have a top-notch lineup already, and they are still coming in,” said Jacki Liszak, the Executive Director of the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce. “So far, participating restaurants include Castaways, Coste Island Cuisine, Dixie Fish Company, Doc Ford’s, Fish-Tale Waterfront Dining, Nervous Nellie’s, Pinchers on the Beach, Rae’s on The Beach, The Salty Crab Bar & Grill, The Whale and Yucatan Beach Stand. That is already a pretty good ‘Who’s Who’ of Fort Myers Beach dining establishments that will serve samples of their signature dishes that are available for purchase. If your restaurant wants to join us, contact the Chamber by Monday, April 26, at 239-454-7500. All participating restaurants must be FMB Chamber members, so we can take care of that all at the same time!”
Restaurants compete for the Best Appetizer, Best Dessert, Best Chicken Dish, Best Surf and Best Turf, as determined by 12 anonymous judges who do blind tasting, so they have no idea as to the identity of each dish or restaurant. There is a People’s Choice Award as well, with all victors announced at 4 p.m.
New this year is the shaded “Beer Garden” and second entertainment stage at 3rd Street and Old San Carlos, Jacki related. “The main stage, as always, is adjacent to Nervous Nellie’s. We initiated the shaded ‘Beer Garden’ to give people more room to move around, along with relief from the sun, so cool off with a beer, wine, sangria or hard seltzers. We are thrilled to have ‘The Romantics,’ who are a five-piece Herb Alpert-Tijuana-style band, entertaining on the main stage from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., as what could be more appropriate for Cinco de Mayo! The second stage features Steve Farst, the incomparable Jo List, and we hear that several of Jo’s musical friends may pop in!”
Servers & Vendors
Jacki added that “the ‘Server’s Competition’ returns, so don’t miss this! It is so much fun, a real challenge for the servers, and entertaining for the crowd, to watch their favorite waiters and waitresses going through the obstacle course and anything else the Chamber can conjure up. Another tradition is Vendor’s Row that will be up-&-down Old San Carlos, with a nice variety of items including gifts, clothing, crafts and jewelry. Chester, the popular caricaturist from The Surf Club, will be there, drawing his marvelous sketches.”
While the “Taste of The Beach” requires closing Old San Carlos Boulevard from 6:30 a.m. through roughly 6 p.m., “don’t let that discourage you from attending,” Jacki stressed. “There are still over 900 parking spaces in the immediate area, as well as the Beach Park-&-Ride Trolley from Summerlin and Pine Ridge Roads all the way down San Carlos Boulevard to Downtown. We expect roughly 4,000 people so come enjoy the fun. I always refer to the ‘Taste of The Beach’ as the local’s first party of the offseason, to exhale after the past six months, reclaim the beach as our own, and to look forward to a prosperous and healthy summer.”
Advance package discount tickets are available now for Taste of the Beach at tasteoffmb.com. A package of 6 event entries is $25 (savings of $5); one entry and 25 food tickets is $25 ($5 savings) and 2 entries and 100 food tickets $100 ($10 savings). Online purchases can be redeemed at the gate.
The Chamber still needs volunteers to assist with admission, ticket and related sales, and morning and evening set-up and clean-up duties; to volunteer, contact the Chamber at 239-454-7500 or at email@example.com.
“This is shaping up to be the best ‘Taste of The Beach’ ever,” said Jacki, “so join us for a great time!”
By Gary Mooney