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Shrimp Festival exceeds its fund-raising goal

March 24, 2016
By John Morton ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Under the shadow of construction woes, organizers of the 58th Shrimp Festival were cautiously optimistic when they set their fund-raising goal at $50,000.

On Thursday, the Fort Myers Beach Lions Club announced it had exceeded the goal, powered by the more than 1,600 shrimp dinners served on March 12.

"It was very successful," said Fred Schmiesing, the club president. "We didn't anticipate reaching the goal because of the construction, but Saturday night's food purchases was the key. People were 80 deep in line for four hours."

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Celebrating their accomplishments during the March 12-13 Shrimp Festival are (from left) David McCagg, who won the People’s Choice Award for raising the most money for the shrimp-eating contest; Madison Tezak, who was named Shrimp Festival Queen; and Carl Ciaus, who won the shrimp-eating contest.

All money raised each year goes to the Lions' charities.

More than 100 vendors participated in the festival's expo in Lynn Hall Memorial Park, selling out the available spots.

Another key to success was the parade's ability to travel down its usual route between the Public Library and Times Square. For several months, the route had been switched to Estero Island's north end due to construction. In January, Lee County made arrangements to keep the construction areas secure and clear of equipment, allowing the traditional route to stay intact.

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"We also didn't hear of any beads being thrown," said Schmiesing in reference to the county's request to abolish the tradition due to open holes in the road potentially getting clogged with debris.

The winners among those presenting floats in the parade are:

Business and professional - first place, Lani Kai; second place Red Coconut.

Civic groups and associations - first place, Araba Shriners; second place, Red Cross.

Non-business (family and individual) - first place, Chapel by the Sea; second place, Brent Samuels.

Youth groups - Fort Myers Beach Little League.

Decorated car - Mustang Club.

Decorated truck - Famous Flag Truck.

Decorated boat - Fort Myers Beach Yacht Club.

Musical marching unit - Calendar Girls.

Non-musical marching unit - Lee County Junior Drill Team.

Musical unit (non-marching) - Bayshore Elementary School Cloggers.

Chairman's Award - Mermaid Lounge.

Meanwhile, the shrimp-eating contest featured eight participants who consumed 35 pounds of shrimp. Carl Ciaus, who was champion in last year's inaugural event, retained his title by eating 1 pounds.

The contest raised $3,340, with participant David McCagg raising the most money.



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