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Bluegrass, Brew and Barbecue

Matanzas on the Bay hosts BBQ family-fun?Memorial Day benefit and fishing tourney Saturday

May 20, 2014
Melissa Schneider and Bob Petcher - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Celebrating Memorial Day weekend the most patriotic way possible, Matanzas on the Bay, 416 Crescent St., is proud to host its inaugural Bluegrass, Brew and BBQ benefit, a fundraising event to kick off the weekend, Saturday, May 24, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. All funds raised is going to the local Operation Open Arms charity fund, a local, nationally acclaimed military outreach program.

"In looking to do an event on Memorial Day weekend we wanted to choose a benefactor that would best represent our goal of supporting and caring for veterans of military service," said Matanzas On The Bay's general manager Glen Petrarca. "Operation Open Arms does an outstanding job in our community in the support and care of returning veterans. John Bunch, the foundation's founder, is such a great man, and it's for such a great cause. What goes better with a Memorial Day weekend than helping an organization that helps our troops."

During the all-day fund-raiser, look forward to a beautiful and patriotic buffet spread prepared by the infamous Chef Dave, featuring smoked goodness of all sorts, and all the fixings.

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Matanzas on the Bay’s inaugural Bluegrass, Brew and BBQ benefit for the Operation Open Arms foundation will take place Saturday, May 24, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., featuring plenty of bluegrass, craft brew and barbecue for everyone, along with good ol’ family fun, a kid’s fishing tournament and more. Photo courtesy MATANZAS INN

"Naturally, on Memorial Day weekend, you think of barbecuing. We have always brain-stormed the best way to showcase our Chef Dave Chetwin's remarkable smoking and barbecue skills," Glen said. "That day, Chef Dave will be running the smoker all day long, and look forward to an appetizing buffet of smoked baby back ribs, chicken, smoked pork shanks, Dave's famous potato salad, baked beans, and a special featured mac n' cheese, among lots of other tasty food."

To perfectly complement your Memorial Day Weekend meal, Matanzas will have a special display of craft beers on tap and in the bottle, including some selections from Cigar City (based out of Tampa), Belgian beers brewed in Colorado, Leinenkugel's special Summer Shandy, and many more.

"You can expect great entertainment, family fun, food and drink while supporting a terrific cause. So far we are humbled by the outpour of support and encouragement from all those involved and the entire community," Petrarca said.

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And what goes better with an all-American barbecue? Bluegrass! Look forward to two local bluegrass bands playing during the benefit Saturday.

The Bug Russle Tumblers will open the show from 1 to 4 p.m. and the headlining Cooter Creek Bluegrass Band will perform from 5 to 8 p.m.

"This is an all-American celebration and we want to have a bunch of fun raising funds for Operation Open Arms," Glen said.

A clown will be roaming around creating masterful balloon animals and face-painting, and children are encouraged to take part in the special kid's fishing tournament along the Matanzas docks between 1 and 4 p.m. that day.

All ages up to 12 are welcome, and prizes and trophies will be awarded to the winners of many categories. If possible, anglers are asked to bring their own poles, but if they don't have one, Matanzas will have a small amount to lend out.

"Chubby's Tropical Adventures, Dairy Queen and Sunshine Ace Hardware supplied all of the bait for the kid's fishing tournament," Glen said.

After all of this fantastic patriotic fun, Matanzas wants to be sure they offer something additional to the Operation Open Arms charity. Glen explains.

"That day, whether you're dining inside of Matanzas, or outside during the benefit, we will donate 5 percent from every bill that day to the Operation Open Arms organization," he proudly stated. "It's our way of helping out a great foundation even more."

There is no charge to get in, and a 50/50 raffle will be collected all day, with the drawing at 5 p.m., all to go toward the Operation Open Arms charity; you need not be present to win.

"We plan on continuing on this new tradition every year. It's a free event, aiming at family fun. Come out, have a fun time with your family and know you're helping a wonderful local cause," Glen concluded.

For more information, call 239-463-3838 or visit

About Operation Open Arms

Operation Open Arms is a nationally acclaimed military outreach program founded in 2005 and is the only 501(c)3 public Florida charity honored by two sitting United States Presidents. Designated a public charity by the IRS in 2008, Operation Open Arms has no payroll or salaries, and is void of political or religious affiliation.

Since 2005, beautiful Southwest Florida has become our nation's most popular leave destination for U.S. troops for good reason. Those serving in combat or foreign duty stations can visit Southwest Florida and enjoy R&R benefits free of charge thanks to the Operation Open Arms' network of local sponsors of the charity.

Since inception, Operation Open Arms of Southwest Florida has provided charitable resources for more than 1,900 U.S. troops and their families.

Its mission statement is a very simple one: "To provide U.S. service men and women visiting Southwest Florida every conceivable benefit during their two-week combat leave or return from a foreign duty station."

For further information on the patriotic organization, and to find out how you can help, visit or email



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