Planning has begun for the 2014 Taste of Pine Island as local restaurants sign up to participate in the two-day event.
This year's food festival, presented by the Kiwanis of Pine Island, will take place Saturday, Jan. 25, (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday, Jan. 26, (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.).
As in years past, the Taste of Pine Island is all about featuring local restaurants and businesses. The Taste features two full days of food, music and fun for the whole family.
The event takes place at the Bobby Holloway Memorial Baseball Field at 5675 Sesame Drive (Phillips Park) in Bokeelia.
Local Pine Island restaurants will offer specialties from their menus: seafood dishes, grilled foods, pulled pork, deserts and much more.
"We have Fish Drop tickets on sale," Pat Burman said. "We also have a few arts and crafts spots open and want to encourage local businesses to participate in this year's event."
The annual seafood Chowder Cook-off contest will be held Saturday and the Chili Cook-off contest Sunday. This is where the professional cooks vie for cash prizes. Tickets to the event automatically make guests a judge in this well received contest. Each participant will provide a sample of his/her chowder and chili for judging. Once the votes are tallied the winner of the "People's Choice" award will be announced.
Past winners of the People's Choice Award were the Waterfront Restaurant, which won in 2004, '05 and '06; the Lazy Flamingo restaurant in 2007; The Perfect Cup from Matlacha, Bokeelia Cracker Caf and Reds Fresh Seafood in Bokeelia.
Lots of other vendors and organizations will be on hand including the Kiwanis Club's famous "IWANTAKIWAN." This is the Kiwanis Club's famous adult beverage!
Firefighters from the Matlacha-Pine Island Fire Control District, will be serving margaritas; Calusa Land Trust with island information; Capt. Dick May with Easy Rider Charters; Paradise Gardens with jarred tropical fruits; Pine Island Community Church youth group, which will be selling water; Tooth Fairy, Douglas Loccisano with fashion and sports; and so many more.
There will be dozens of other vendors on hand including jewelry artists, craft items for home and garden, clothing, T-shirts, jams and jellies and more. As for the kids, Kiwanis is bringing back the famous Kids Area with all kinds of rides and games.
"Cabot Cheese will also return this year as one of our main sponsors," Burman said. "They will be offering samples of their famous cheeses: Extra Sharp, Aged Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Garlic Cheese and more. Come out and enjoy two days on Pine Island, we offer beautiful sunrises and sunsets, great fresh seafood, great entertainment and good old faction family fun.
Among the highlights of the two-day event will be the famous Fish Drop. At 4 p.m on Sunday, those holding tickets for this event will gather near a bullseye when more than a thousand brightly colored, numbered fish will be hoisted to the top of a crane and then dropped to the ground below. The person holding the numbered ticket of the fish that lands closest to the bullseye will be declared the winner. First place receives $1,000, second place $500 and third place $250.