Approaching the 2013 Marco Island Business Expo in the Capri Ballroom at the Marco Marriott, one could be forgiven for wondering if the main feature had already started, or previews of coming attractions were still playing. The aroma of buttered popcorn from the Sunshine Ace Hardware booth, just inside the entry, gave the feeling of a multiplex to the Expo, and given all the variety of displays and booths inside, maybe that’s not too far off. Over 30 businesses hawked their wares, touted their services, put their best foot forward, and gave away a few free samples to the consumers who were the target market for the event. They ran the gamut from A to W, from A.P. Builders to Winn-Dixie, whose booth offering free samples of a variety of wines, cheeses and olives was a popular stop, if you could find them in the corner behind a press of nibblers. Sommelier Carol Cunningham poured the wines, and threw in a smile at no charge.
The “Viva La Marco” gala brought together Marco Island’s historical past and culinary present Saturday evening, to help provide the Marco Island Historical Society with a bright future. A dozen historical figures in period dress mingled with the modern day guests at the Marco Island Historical Museum’s Rose History Auditorium, willing to share their stories. Eleven were MIHS members, augmented by Don Juan Ponce de Leon, in full armor and sporting both a rapier and a dagger, portrayed by Carlos Bicho. Well over a dozen local eateries, food purveyors and private chefs donated the edibles for a feast of gourmet grazing.
This past weekend, Marco Island went to the fair. At least, those who were willing to brave a brisk wind and below average temperatures went, to the second annual Fair on Marco, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Veterans’ Community Park. They rode the midway rides, frolicked in the bounce house and humongous slides, and pestered their parents for carnival food like cotton candy and do people really eat deep fried candy bars? They spun the wheel at the Kriger Orthodontics booth for the chance to win an iPad and other prizes. They listened to homegrown and imported entertainment, including a ZZ Top tribute band Trezz Hombres, the Lords of Cool, and the MICMS Jazz Band and Starz from Marco Island Charter Middle School.
The new Physicians Regional medical clinic on Marco Island held a big grand opening celebration Saturday featuring the “Flying Elvi,” a troupe of Elvis-impersonating parachutists. Submitted by user RandiMorse
Elvis was in the house, in the air, on the soundsystem, and all over the parking lot. While the purpose of the “Rockin’ Grand Opening” event was to introduce Physicians Regional new Marco Island medical clinic to local residents, the focus was on the King. The highpoint literally of the festivities on Saturday afternoon was the arrival by parachute of “The Flying Elvi,” a troupe of Elvis-impersonating parachute jumpers. They came in waves, with 10 total Elvi dropping in, in addition to the two already on the ground at the Shops of Marco. Thousands of spectators lined up all around the flimsy barrier of police tape that kept one section of the parking lot at the shopping center at San Marco and Barfield Drive South open for a landing spot.
he only problem at the ninth annual Kiwanis car show, held Sunday outside the NCH Healthcare Center, was knowing where to look. At every turn of the head, more vintage vehicles, and some nice new ones, demanded attention. Thousands paid $5 to inspect the 182 cars entered in the show, everything from Grant Miller’s 1934 Packard with it’s “Goddess of Speed” hood ornament, to Bill Filbin’s 2011 Corvette Grand Sport with a mirrored underside of the hood, the better to view the engine.
The theme of this year’s Goodland Boat Parade was “Broadway Musicals,” but the event on Saturday will be remembered most for the boats “Blowin’ in the Wind.” The stiff breeze, with gusts up to approximately 30 knots, posed a real challenge for the skippers of the 14 vessels entered in the parade, even without the spectator boats that insisted on blundering into the their path.
The Marco Island Center for the Arts opened their latest show Tuesday evening with a reception at the center's gallery on Winterberry Drive. Entitled "Forme de la Femme," the exhibit features new interpretations on an old theme, celebrating the female body. This has been a staple of artists for millennia, probably going back to when a caveman admired his significant other as she doffed her bearskin, and proceeding through Goya's "Maja Desnuda" and Duchamps' "Nude Descending a Staircase." But the takes on this well-worn row presented by the artists at the Center for the Arts showed the topic is far from exhausted.
Everglades City is a little off the beaten path. The former county seat of Collier County, it sits surrounded by the mangrove swamps of Everglades National Park, an old-fashioned fishing village where life goes by at a leisurely pace – 51 weeks a year. But one weekend a year, E-City shakes off its doldrums and hosts the Everglades Seafood Festival, bringing upwards of 50,000 people down the solitary two-lane access road, and hosting one heck of a party.
Perfect weather put the icing on the bluegrass cake for the sixth annual "Jammin' in the Hammock," the music festival sponsored by the Friends of Collier-Seminole State Park. Six bands, plus a Sunday morning "bluegrass gospel sing and jam" fronted by festival emcee Mike Robinson played to a healthy of blessed-out bluegrass lovers at the park, located just east of County Road 92 on the East Tamiami Trail.
Marco Island loves a party, but maybe there is a breaking point, after all. The second annual running of the Party in the Park, sponsored over the weekend by the Marco Island Sunrise Rotary, had the elements that usually will reliably draw a crowd on the island. Centrally located at Veterans Community Park, with plenty of parking, and the booths for the Farmers Market that takes place there every walk clearly marked on the grass, Party in the Park offered live music, food and drink, including wine and beer, vendors selling art and crafts, a bounce house, face painting and one brand new attraction.
Nineteen local professional artists took up the challenge in this, the sixth annual outing for the Wet Paint Live event, working "en plein air" and completing a painting from start to finish in one day. The resulting canvases were then auctioned off in a fundraiser, held for the first time at the Rose History Auditorium at the Marco Island Historical Museum, with celebrity auctioneer Chris Lombardo presiding. Proceeds from Wet Paint Live were apportioned among the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce, their Leadership Marco Scholarship Fund, and MIFA, the Marco Island Foundation for the Arts.
Marco Islanders got to experience a little of that feeling Sunday night. Mother Nature took a great idea, the Marriott's Super Bowl beach party, and used it for a little demonstration of just what "wind chill factor" is all about. The hotel clearly had a winning formula – discounted rooms, unlimited beer, wine, and chicken wings, and a forest of inflatable big screen televisions broadcasting the biggest sporting event of the year. The response proved the point, with 175 rooms sold to locals, opting for a hotel stay literally minutes away from their homes. Approximately 400 showed up to watch the game along the Gulf, with another Marriott party for visiting meeting planners happening right next door.