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It has been eight years since Stan Niemczyk, a Rotarian at the Marco Island Sunrise Rotary Club, realized his dream for a major fundraiser and created the Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival.

Like his fellow Rotarians, Stan was always looking for new projects to raise money for charities and the less fortunate in our community.

He realized that his small club could not possibly organize such a large undertaking on their own. That brought the novel idea to look for cooperation with not only the other Rotary Club on the island, but also the very active Kiwanis. This proved to be a wise decision and the seafood and music festival was born.

Over the years it has grown from a two-day Seafood Festival to a three-day Seafood & Music Festival that has become the largest yearly single event on Marco Island with some 10,000 visitors annually. The organization is handled by a small core group of voluntary members of the three service clubs and over 200 volunteers during the three-day entertainment and seafood extravaganza.

A wide variety of seafood and some land lubbers fare will be available. New this year will be lobster meals and lobster rolls from locally owned Bill’s Steak & Seafood in Naples, as well as offers from Pinchers Crab House on Marco Island; 60-plus handicraft and artists will offer their wares and crafts.

Music entertainment is planned all day long. Headlines are: Friday from 6 until 9 p.m. it’s the Ben Allen Band; Saturday from 6 until 9, Caribbean Chillers; and Sunday 2 until 5 p.m., Rick & The Speed Bumps.

New this year is a VIP experience in cooperation with the Seminole Casino Hotel.

For $60 there will be seating in a reserved partially covered area with prime viewing of the entertainment. The VIP ticket is valid for all three days.

VIP’s will receive tickets for a Maine Lobster meal from the concession of Naples’ Bill’s Steak & Seafood Restaurant at the festival.

The VIP ticket also includes four drink tickets.

Also new this year is a Home Brew Challenge hosted by the Southwest Florida Brew Crafters Club. The home brew fun begins at 2 p.m., Saturday. Your admission to the 2017 Marco Island Seafood and Music Festival gets you in to sample craft beers and cast a vote for your favorite beer by 5. After all votes are tallied, the winner of the People’s Choice Award will be named at 5:30 p.m. and be officially deemed the 2017 Marco Island Seafood and Music Fest Beer.

Ten brewers will be bringing their favorite creations for you to sample.

For further information on the competition, email swfbrewcrafters@gmail.com.

The festival opens at 11 a.m. each day; closes at 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m., Sunday.

There is ample parking at the festival grounds. However, free bus transportation is offered on Friday and Saturday along Collier Boulevard from Veterans Park and return. Look for exact routing on the website and stop the bus anywhere along this route.

Regular tickets are $10 for one day, or $16 for two days.

Information: marcoislandseafoodandmusicfestival.com

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