Big shell show turnout
When Marco Island Shell Club show chair Jae Kellogg described the club's origins - and cut the long story short by saying "the rest is history," she wasn't really guilty of a cliché.
Kellogg was writing in the February edition of The SeaShell, a members' newsletter - available to all on the club's marcoshellclub.com website. She wrote in anticipation of the annual show, held this past weekend at the United Church of Marco Island.
That non-cliché: The club may incorporate all sorts of aspects of shells into the show, not least whimsical and sometimes even comical art, but the underlying interest to members is history and conservation.
Or, as the mission statement puts it: "…to promote the study, conservation, history, and science of seashells and mollusks, and to encourage shell-related interests, such as shell collecting, crafting and shell art."
Hence, awards for scientific awards are absolutely as coveted as those for artistic interpretation of shells, as evidenced by this past week's 35th annual show that attracted more than 2,000 visitors.
"This means we will be able to provide significant additions to our scholarship funds for FGCU and the University of West Florida, said the club's publicity chair John Tunnell.
By what you could call divine coincidence, Tunnel's wife Marge indeed walked away with the scientific People's Choice award – with the judging done independently by visitors to the show. She exhibited a vase sponge, also dubbed the "Redwood of the reef," having found it in Pigeon Key in 1980 while she was still a schoolteacher.
The People's Choice artistic award went to Georgia Lohmeyer, who created a beautiful shell wreath.
Besides the people's choice awards, there were also some made by experts. Judges for the scientific category were Jose' H. Leal, a science director and curator from Sanibel, and Gary Schmelz, a marine biologist and paleontologist from Naples. Artistic judges were Phyllis Gray, an experienced shell show exhibitor and judge from Orlando, and Bill Jordan, a first time judge from Sanibel.
Money raised by the show helps students from related fields pay for their tuition.