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May 10

Mango Mania: Pine Island, Florida

mangofest

 

The unique subtropical climate of Southern Florida makes it a place that can host a diversity of plants and fruits which could not otherwise be grown in the middle latitudes of the United States. Because of the seasons being more based on wet and dry, different fruits ripen at different times and so one can be part of many different festivals.

 

January is often the time for citrus and kumquat festivals in central Florida, February has a garlic festival and Plant City is the home for strawberries in March. May is the month of berries all across the state and July is the annual moment for mangos.

 

Pine Island is a sleepy little barrier island off the West coast of Florida. It is close to the nature preserves of Sanibel and Captiva, a half hour from downtown Fort Myers and just off the coast of sprawling Cape Coral. The two day Mango Mania festival (this year July 19th and 20th 2014) is a real laid back affair, since mostly locals are around this time of year.

 

mangofest2The dates each year are often the third weekend in July. Tickets are an informal $6.00 for entrance and it is a unique event that feels like part county fair, part street carnival and part fruit tasting. One should not expect anything grandiose or world class, it is at its essence a local event. What is fascinating however is that Pine Island is a place where mangos grow very well and the largest one on record ever grown has come from this area.

 

The highlight of the Mango Mania festival is getting to meet the growers, men and women who know their mangos and alternative fruits. In the central tasting tent, one can go over charts of dozens of varieties of mango and sample them at no cost, all the while listening to the growers explain the various traits and properties of each kind.

 

Other attractions include vendors of various local agriculture and horticulture, restaurants, specialty foods, games, children’s activities, live music and food and recipe contests. Of course one can find all sorts of mango attractions with everything from dried mango, to mango candles to mango jellies. The location is easily accessed on Pine Island Road at the large German-American club venue. Be sure and stick around to see who will be named mango queen for the upcoming year too!

 

 

 

 

 

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