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Four-day Coconut Fest opens Thursday

November 6, 2018
By CJ HADDAD ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

What has now become a staple of Cape Coral events over the past decade plus, Coconut Fest returns to the Sun Splash Festival Grounds this week, bringing live music, a festival atmosphere and good times to residents across the city and beyond.

Put on by the Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department, Coconut Fest has become the city's signature event as more than 20,000 people come out each year across four days of entertainment.

"This will be the biggest country night we've ever had," said Kristin Bean, senior recreational specialist. "We will have four national artists performing."

Each night has its own theme; Thursday being "Free gate Thursday." Coco Country Night is Friday, Coco Rock Night/College Football is Saturday and Coco Football is Sunday.

A new addition to the event will be a mobile beer garden on Friday and Saturday nights.

It will be decked out in LED lighting, with portable phone charging stations whilst serving cold adult beverages.

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Artists on country night will include Jimmie Allen, Carly Pearce, Craig Campbell and Tyler Farr.

"Florida is one of my favorite places to play country music,"said Campbell, a Georgia native and rising star in the country world.

"Anytime we have the opportunity to come down, we get fired up, and we're going to turn it up," he said.

Campbell is a talented pianist besides having a classic country tone, which helped propel him into the spotlight he's in today, having played for renowned artist Luke Bryan and others while working on his own material.

He's had regular performances at Nashville's historic Grand Ole Opry, and has found radio success with songs such as "See You Try," "Outskirts of Heaven," "Keep Them Kisses Corin" and "Family Man."

"I'm a product of early '90s country music," Campbell said. "I still get chill bumps hearing my songs on the radio."

He's constantly trying to add to his repertoire, and draws inspiration from artists such as Travis Tritt and the "class of '89" country music.

"Being on the road, I've learned a lot from Tracy Byrd and Luke Bryan. I'm always looking to learn from different acts," he said.

Campbell has his own piano bar, with tequila being his drink of choice as he's entertaining the crowd.

"If you haven't seen me play, I'm confident I can make you a fan," he said.

He grew up playing the piano in church, and said that "music chose me."

His father tragically passed away at the devastatingly early age of 36 due to colon cancer, a cause Campbell is an advocate for.

He is a national spokesperson for "Fight Colorectal Cancer," having raised more than $450,000 for the organization.

He describes himself as a traditional country singer with some edge and a little bit of fire.

"We're going to turn it up, it's going to be a party," he said.

Saturday night will offer more of the classic rock feel, as Hairdaze, Pyromania, Asia and Great White will be rocking the stage.

"This is a real concert experience," said Bean. "Folks can get to relive some history; music brings people together."

Traditional carnival rides and games are all part of the experience for children, along with fireworks after the performances Friday and Saturday night.

There also will be a Coconut Run; 5K and Kids Run on Saturday beginning at 7:30 a.m. and 8:15 for the kids.

Registration includes a Dri-Fit shirt, free post-race pancake breakfast, one Coconut Festival entry for one day and kids will receive a Coconut Festival entry along with wristband for unlimited rides (Friday-Sunday.)

Registration for the 5K and Kids run can be found at; $25 for adults, $15 for 17 and under and $10 for 12 and under.

"This event really draws people in and has a family aspect, music aspect-and is the city's signature event," said Bean. "It's a good time for everyone."

Though the title may be Coconut Fest, that does not mean all things are coconut themed, said Bean.

"The main theme is to be more of a nutty event with something for everyone, not just coconut, though we do have some coconut-themed beverages."

The event has grown since its inception in 2005, bringing some big names to the stage for residents of Southwest Florida.

"We work really hard on this event," said Bean.

Thursday, Nov. 8 will be the first day of the fest, from 5-10 p.m.

The rest of the weekend hours are Friday, 5-midnight, Saturday, noon-midnight and Sunday, noon to 8.

NFL games will be displayed on the huge LED screen under the tent all of Sunday and, if you wear an NFL jersey, Budweiser and Bud Light are 2-for-1 from noon to 6.

Children 13 and under are free with an adult ticket purchase and free entrance for veterans and active duty military will be had Sunday.

General admission is $5 at the gate, all inclusive concert tickets (for Friday or Saturday) are $7 in advance and $10 at the gate.

Other ticket specials are available and can be found at .

Sun Splash is at 400 Santa Barbara Boulevard in Cape Coral.

- Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj



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