Shrimp Festival, Putt and Pub canceled
In separate announcements over the past week, two of the town’s major seasonal events were canceled.
The Fort Myers Beach Lion’s Club Shrimp Festival and Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club Putt & Pub have both been nixed due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Facebook post on Monday, the Lion’s Club cited “the town’s emergency declaration” as well as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, and Florida Department of Health recommendations on large-scale event safety as the reasons for the cancelation.
“As this is our club’s main source of income, it is devastating but we will develop new avenues of fundraising so that we can continue to safely serve our local community of those in need. We look forward to the Shrimp Festival in 2022 and appreciate the support of all those that love and cherish this event as much as we do,” the Lion’s Club stated in their social media post.
The announcement came one month after the death of Shrimp Festival co-founder Peter McCagg.
Fort Myers Beach Lion’s Club President Shelby Stites said the organization chose the “humanitarian” approach, by canceling the event since the town’s emergency declaration is still in effect, which puts limitations on the granting of special permits.
“We think it was safe and best not to have the events,” Stites said.
The Shrimp Festival was planned for March and Stites said the organization wanted to give its vendors advanced notice.
“Our hands are tied behind our back with it,” Stites said. “It will give us some time to open some new means of fundraising. We hope the community will come together.”
Stites said the Shrimp Festival brings in about $60,000 to the organization, which it distributes into the community, the elementary school, Little League, the local food pantry as well through scholarships, and eyeglasses for youth.
The Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club also cited the COVID-19 pandemic as their reason for canceling the 11th annual Putt & Pub, which was scheduled for Saturday.
“We would like to thank our sponsors, nonprofits, local bars and restaurants for their support,” said the event’s co-chair Dawn Thomas in an emailed statement.
“We plan to make the 2022 Putt & Pub Event bigger and better than ever. Thank you to all the “golfers” who have registered. We will be refunding entry fees soon,” Thomas stated.
Fort Myers Beach Manager Roger Hernstadt said the Woman’s Club put in an application for a large-gathering, special permit which didn’t address how the event would meet CDC guidelines for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic and so it was rejected.
Hernstadt said town staff is currently refraining from giving out special permits for events “that attract crowds” due to “skyrocketing cases” of COVID-19 cases locally and nationally.
“Until more people are vaccinated, we are not comfortable with that,” he said. Event organizers can appeal to the tow council, he said.
The town council granted a special permit for the farmer’s market back in October, which is a recurring event. Since November, COVID-19 cases in town and the county have been increasing substantially.