The Sanibel Community Association wanted to do something big this year, something for the whole family to join in on.
What they created could end up being one of the great fundraising efforts of Sanibel's history with the Inaugural "Sanibel Fun Fest" at the Community House, which will be the weekend of Jan. 24-26.
The fun-filled weekend includes a special concert by Sanibel native and national recording artist Whitney Wolanin on Friday, a Saturday full of live entertainment, music, games, sand sculpture competition, food and drinks, a Polynesian Luau pig roast and Review, body painting contest, and a "Cool Wheels of the Island" car show on Sunday, among other events.
National recording artist Whitney Wolanin. PHOTO PROVIDED.
The SCA is the nonprofit organization that operates the Community House and, according to SCA President and Sanibel resident Tom Sharbaugh, the Board thought there was something missing on the calendar this year.
"There's no shortage of activities going on all through the season," Sharbaugh said. "The Community House does the Shell Fair, one of its major events, and it's been around over 75 years. Many other organizations have annual events run by people from CROW, FISH, SCCF, to promote and raise funds for their organization."
While the Community House has a number of smaller fundraisers throughout the season, including last month's Holiday Mini-Golf, they didn't have a special event that would draw people from all walks of life.
Inaugural Sanibel Fun Fest, a weekend of fun benefitting the Sanibel Community House
All festivities will be at the Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way
Friday, Jan. 24, 6 p.m.
Whitney Wolanin in concert - VIP Reception, 6 p.m. - Concert, 7 p.m.
VIP Tickets, $200 (includes admission to all weekend events, special seating and pre-concert reception with Whitney)
Saturday, Jan. 25, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Live entertainment on Outdoor Stage
Music by Caribbean Chillers (Jimmy Buffet Tribute Band)
Sanibel School Steel drum band
Mermaid and Pirate Costume competition
Sand Sculpture Display
Kids' Games & Pirate Ship
Local arts & crafts sale
Food & Beverage Concessions
Admission $10/adults, $5/children 6-12, Free/children 5 and under
Saturday tickets good for readmission on Sunday
Saturday night, 6 to 9 p.m.
Polynesian Luau and Review
Polynesian music, pig roast dinner, family fun!
Tickets $50/adults, $25/children 12 and under
Sunday, Jan. 26, noon to 4 p.m.
Music by the Troublestarters
"Cool Wheels of the Island" Car Show
North American Body Painting Contest
Sand Sculpture display/judging
Admission $6/adults, $5/children 6-12, 5 and under free
"What seemed to be missing from that calendar, to us, was an event that could be more accurately called an all-family event that has things for younger people, kids, grandkids, as well as adults. We set out to be true to the original objective of the Community House when the SCA was formed, which was to be a resource for the entire community," Sharbaugh said.
The weekend will offer a number of events that appeals to all ages, starting with the concert with Whitney Wolanin.
"While her main audience is younger, her style is so broad, we think it'll be entertaining for everyone down here," Sharbaugh said.
Tickets for the concert are $75, while VIP passes are $200. The VIP pass includes admission to all of the weekend's events, including a Polynesian Luau-style pig roast on Saturday night, which would typically be $50 for adults and $25 for children. The VIP pass also provides guests with special seating to Wolanin's concert, as well as entrance to a pre-concert reception with Whitney.
Saturday kicks off interactive activities for all ages beginning at 10 a.m. Festivities include live entertainment and music from a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, a mermaid and pirate costume competition for the kids, a sand sculpture competition, kids' games and a pirate ship sponsored by Pieces of Eight pirate cruises, a local arts and crafts sale, and food and beverage concessions. According to Sharbaugh, the Sanibel School steel drum band will make an appearance as well on Saturday.
Sunday rounds out the weekend, starting at noon, with music by the popular local band The Troublestarters, a special North American Body Painting Contest, and a classic car show.
All of these events are an effort to show Islanders just how important the historic Community House is to the islands and its caretakers.
"Everyone involved with the historic Community House believe they were given a sacred trust to safeguard the donated land and keep the house functioning for everyone," said Executive Director Teresa Riska-Hall.
Riska-Hall also mentioned volunteers are always welcome, and more are needed for the weekend festivities. She also emphasized the importance of this fundraiser, as only 20% of the Community House's yearly budget comes from renting their facilities. The bulk of their budget comes directly from the community through donations and participation.
"This event is our primary fundraiser and we're counting on the generosity of both the locals as well as guests of our sanctuary island to purchase tickets, come out, and have a good time."
There's been an outpouring of support from local businesses, as eight $5,000 Gold Sponsors have already stepped forward. These include the Wilbur Smith Law Firm, Chico's, Suncoast Beverage, Sanctuary Golf Club, Times of the Island, John Grey Painting, Marge and Joe Meek, and the latest, the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company.
Many other sponsors have donated volunteers and funds to the Community House in an effort to make this their biggest fundraiser yet.
For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, call 472-2155 or visit sanibelcommunityhouse.net.