The Taste of Fort Myers Beach is an annual affair that brings people together for a day of delicious food, local spirits and live entertainment. Island residents, late departing snowbirds and vacationers get to enjoy all the festivities.
Our adventure starts out on the south end of Estero island waiting at the trolley stop. Fort Myers Beach has a service that runs up and down the island seven days a week. Locate the nearest “trollee” sign to where you are staying (shown, right). Then look up the scheduled times and take a couple dollars in quarters with you to the stop. The Trollee usually runs pretty close to its scheduled pick up and drop off times.
We started out by having fun with a few of the participants (pictured, top left) who work the booths and represents their respected eatery. The Taste of Ft Myers Beach, which is in its 20th year, has a nominal entry fee that allows you to purchase food and beverage tickets to spend amongst the various vendors. Most of the money collected and after covering expenses benefit other community functions and events.
Most of the restaurants on and around the island have very peculiar names. They are almost as interesting as their concepts. Bootleggers is a waterfront eatery that prides themselves on southern style barbeque. Their location sets on the back bay staring straight across at Estero Island.
Nemo’s on The Beach just finished setting up their portable kitchen that will be cooking up some tasty dishes. Nemo’s is a beachfront bar & grill that provides great views of the Gulf waters, sand between the toes and fantastic sunsets.
The event is in full swing as the noon hour strikes. People flow like water into the designated area. As we stroll between vendors, the aroma of all the simmering foods enhance our already present hunger pains. The swaying palms letting in the sun’s afternoon rays are urging us to quench our thirst with a cold beverage as soon as possible. There are very few corporate food chains on the island. All the participants in this cuisine utopia are home grown, which makes for a wide variety of flavors to choose from.
The crew from Pinchers Crab Shack (pictured, below left) is ready to dish up crab legs with a smile. Pinchers, as they are known by the locals, is a hot spot on the south end of the island. Their over-sized tiki hut and open air umbrella-clad patio offers plenty of entertainment with a seven day a week happy hour and popular foods. Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce mobile information center, “Roxie” (pictured, upper right), is on site providing visitors with plenty of local information on things to see and do in the surrounding area.
The festivities are continued on the north end of San Carlos Boulevard and the back bay. One of the more popular establishments that helps provide much of the annual event’s well-known entertainment is Nervous Nellie’s Crazy Waterfront Eatery. Nervous Nellie’s and their upper deck party bar & grill Ugly’s, offers customers great water views of Matanzas Pass. It’s a perfect place to watch boats of all sorts come and go from the Gulf of Mexico.
This is where live entertainment keeps everyone in a festive mood. Bands are playing country, blue grass and a mixture of classic rock. The bands perform at the foot of the fountain and just ahead of the gazebo. We sit under the palm trees and enjoy a nice island breeze while listening to great music. There are lots people sitting on the grassy areas enjoying the food that is provided by the vendors.
It seems that everyone is enjoying themselves. The blue skies and white puffy clouds above make for a perfect day. We enjoy the entertainment, freshly prepared fish tacos and cool beverages. The event began at 10:30 a.m. and goes till 4:00 p.m. However, the music continues until 5:00 or 5:30 p.m.
In my opinion this is a very successful outing. We enjoyed the people, the food and entertainment. There needs to be more events like these to remind us that smaller communities is what America is all about. Mark you calendars for the 21st annual Taste of Fort Myers Beach in May 2016 and The Lions Club Shrimp Festival on March 12th, 2016.