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Wet weather and party relocation don’t dampen success of 17th annual Gumbofest at Shell Factory

January 30, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO (news@breezenewspapers.com) , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Weather moved the 17th annual Gumbofest at the Shell Factory indoors this year, packing the Dolphin Room.

Despite the fact that it was so cold and wet outside, some hot gumbo made people warm on the inside. Many of the hardcore gumbo fans were there to support the event and the Nature Park Foundation, which this particular event supports.

"I guess I didn't get here early enough to do it yesterday. But they've been predicting rain for 17 years, so they had to finally be right," Pam Cronin said. "We're happy. We still sold out the reverse raffle and that's money for the foundation."

Article Photos

The Porchdogs perform in the Dolphin Room at the 17th annual Gumbofest Sunday at the Shell Factory. The heavy rain forced the event to be moved indoors.

CHUCK BALLARO

The rain didn't stop Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band or the Porch Dogs, the musical acts. They just set up the stage inside.

The star is always the gumbo, and this year it was made by Laurie Griffin, who had planned for a big day. Despite the weather and the venue change, the gumbo was good.

"We're getting reviews back that it's good. A girl from Massachusetts knows how to cook southern. Who would have known?" Griffin said. "The roux is the most important part. We have to bake it for 2 1/2 hours so it has that peanut taste."

Smoke 'n' Pit and Lobster Lady still came to give their versions of gumbo and other bayou food. And the Jambaliars, the group that annually helps out with the event, made its famous Low Country Boil.

Jack Macdonald said the Jambaliars was formed 15 years ago as a challenge to people who read the name to see if they know what it means.

"Every year we have fun, that's it. Tom Cronin told us years ago that we had better be here to help, and now Pam is almost as bad," Macdonald said. "We did all the prep work yesterday for the boil and made sure the Jell-O shots were just right. It has to be done."

"In previous years we had between 3,000 and 4,000 people. Today the weather did not cooperate, but we are very thankful to those who did come to support us," said Mike Geml, a Nature Park Supporter who sold food tickets to those inside. "The Shell Factory has a history, and no matter what the event is, they have always supported us."

Among those supporters was Jean Hlavacek, who comes from Iowa to winter here. It was her third time to Gumbofest.

"I saw it advertised and decided to come and we loved it. We love the cold beer and the music and you have to have the gumbo," Hlavacek said. "The gumbo was good, but you have to add some hot sauce."

For Dianne Brammaman, it was her first time, and she was also enjoying it.

"I love the music and the atmosphere. Everyone is happy to be here. I had the chicken gumbo and I liked it. I thought it was a little spicy and it was nice and warm on a cold day," Brammaman said.

The Shell Factory &?Nature Park, a popular attraction for both residents and visitors, is located at 2787 N. Tamiami Trail in North Fort Myers.

 
 

 

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