Despite the anticipated crowds, the Fort Myers Beach Lions Club Shrimp Festival was canceled. But there are still 35 pounds of shrimp on the way, so it was donated. Now, it’s costing organizers.
The shrimp festival is the Fort Myers Beach Lions Club’s largest fundraiser of the year. It helps raise tens of thousands of dollars for local charities and scholarships.
Now, the group is hoping to just break even by selling T-shirts made for the event that was canceled due to concerns over coronavirus spread amid the pandemic.
Yvonne Paul plans her yearly vacation to Fort Myers Beach around the shrimp festival.
“So we’re very disappointed that it had to shut down, but I understand,” said Paul, who visits from Wisconsin.
The Fort Myers Beach Lions Club says, in the festival’s 62 years, this is the first time it has ever had to cancel the event.
“There are still people that come by and say, ‘Where is the festival?’” said Fran Peters, the treasurer of the Lions Club. “And they don’t realize it’s canceled.”
Luckily, the Lions Club was able to cancel most of the shrimp they ordered. The roughly 35 pounds that was left was donated to the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida.
But the organization is still left with hundreds of T-shirts.
“They are 20 dollars apiece,” Peters said. “We appreciate your help to the Lions.”
So, Fort Myers Beach is letting the club sell them. And the community has been happy to buy them and even drop a donation.
“It’s a cute shirt. It’s a great cause. It’s a beautiful day,” said Liz Arnold on Fort Myers Beach. “I just want to give them my support.”
The Fort Myers Beach Lions Club says, even though the shrimp festival is canceled for now, they’re hoping they can say it’s simply postponed and bring it back next year.
So far they’ve raised about $2,500 from the shirts alone.
“It’s rewarding that there are people who want to step up and help the Lions,” Fran said.