Spotlight: Everything orange

Arts & Pumpkin Festival to incorporate various fall events this weekend

It’s enough to make Charlie Brown believe in the Great Pumpkin, or at least enough to give Linus hope that the magical cartoon squash will actually show up next year.

Organizers are calling it the Fort Myers Beach Art & Pumpkin Festival, and they hope the event will eventually establish the longevity of the 1966 TV hit “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

“I’m surprised by how many people have jumped on board with it,” says organizer Leslie Marr. “Everywhere I go I hear, ‘pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin.’”

Halloween costumes, jack-o-lanterns, fall harvest -- it’s all part of the Art & Pumpkin Festival, Marr says.

Festivities for the inaugural event start at 7 p.m., Friday night, with entertainment at local bars and continues at 9 a.m., Saturday morning, with a kids and pets Halloween costume contest and parade.

Some of the money raised at the event will be donated to groups like the Harry Chapin Food Bank, the Ostego Bay Foundation and local soup kitchens.

Marr said the idea for the Art & Pumpkin Festival is to draw as many businesses, charity groups, residents and visitors to the island as possible to celebrate the arrival of fall and she expects thousands to attend this weekend’s event.

Pie eating and apple bobbing contests will be held in addition to costume shows and parades. The entry fee is two cans of food — which will go to the Harry Chapin Food Bank.

Katrina Salokar, of Paradise Advertising & Design, is helping organize the event. She says dozens of local businesses have signed up to help with the Art & Pumpkin Festival, including churches, civic groups, families and individuals.

“It’s a fall outreach festival,” Salokar explained. “It’s a way of saying, ‘hey, let’s all get together and celebrate the arrival of (tourism) season and get ready for fall. We’re seeing a lot of good energy and spirit coming out of this.”

Arts & Pumpkin Festival Tentative Schedule

Saturday, Oct. 24

Pancake breakfast featuring pumpkin pancakes, 7 a.m., the Yucatan

Festival and Kid Zone opens at 9 a.m.

Children and pets costume parade and contest, 9 a.m.

The Edge Dance Troupes, 12:45 p.m.

The Golden Gourds: Southwest Florida Has Talent, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Jonathan Romero performance, 1 to 3 p.m.

Pie Eating Contest, Pumpkin Village, ages 11 and under, 2 p.m.

Pie Eating Contest, Pumpkin Village, ages 12 and over, 2:15 p.m.

Pie Eating Contest, Pumpkin Village, adults, 2:30 p.m.

Riverside Community Church Youth Band, 3 to 4 p.m.

Weathered Souls, 2008 Battle of the Bands winner, 4 to 6 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 25

Pancake breakfast, 7 a.m.

Festival and Kid Zone Opens, 9 a.m.

Children and Pets Costume Parade and Contest, 9 a.m.

Picassos’ of Pumpkin Carving Demonstration, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mike Imbasciani performance, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Apple bobbing contest in the Kid’s Zone, 11 a.m.

The Golden Gourds: Southwest Florida Has Talent , 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Riverside Community Church Youth Band, 3 to 4 p.m.

Festival closes, 4 p.m.

Info: 239-395-1113, or

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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