2016-03-17 / Community

Inaugural Lovers Key Nautical Flea Market and Boat Show just around the corner

By Don Manley


Donald and Lorea Ware of FishWare Outfitters, makers of UPF 40+ sun protection shirts, will be one of the flea market vendors. 
Staff | staff@swspotlight.com Donald and Lorea Ware of FishWare Outfitters, makers of UPF 40+ sun protection shirts, will be one of the flea market vendors. Staff | staff@swspotlight.com More than two years of study, planning and arranging will come to fruition March 18 – 20 with the inaugural Lovers Key Nautical Flea Market and Boat Show.

The event will feature about 50 nautical exhibitors selling arts, crafts, clothing, fishing and cruising and stand-up paddle board equipment, and other aquatic sports related items. There will also be boat dealers from Lee and Collier counties, food from Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub, a beer garden and more, on the grounds of Lovers Key State Park.

Sponsored by the Friends of Lovers Key (FOLKS) and the Rotary Club of Bonita Springs, the weekend-long affair will serve as a fundraiser for the charitable groups, which are splitting the expenses and the proceeds.

“It’s the hope of both organizations that this can become the premier fundraiser of the year,” said Mark Generales, a member the Bonita Rotary and the FOLKS board of directors, who spearheaded the event’s creation and organization.

FOLKS is a nonprofit dedicated to protecting, preserving and supporting Lovers Key. Typical projects include maintenance of the park’s native plant nursery, shorebird nesting protection and equipment purchases, along with gathering funds for the construction of the Lovers Key Environmental Education Center. The Bonita Springs Rotary Club’s community endeavors include providing college scholarships, providing such things as wheelchairs and groceries for the underprivileged and donations to the community’s YMCA.

The nautical flea market and boat show grew out a conversation Generales had about possible fundraisers for FOLKS with fellow Rotary Club member Gary Murphy, owner of the Marina Mike’s boat dealership in Estero. Generales mentioned holding a fishing tournament, but Murphy countered by asking whether he’d considered staging a nautical flea market, citing the well-established Dania Marine Flea Market on Florida’s East Coast, which bills itself as the world’s largest. The annual Gigantic Nautical Flea Market in Islamorada boasts over 300 vendors.

Attendees can expect, “what I think will be a really excellent mix of people and products,” said Generales. “They’ll be able to take their time because it won’t be overcrowded. They can kick back and have something to eat, and take a walk over to the boat ramp and see the boats that are there and what our exhibitors and boat dealers have to offer.”

If You Go

What: The inaugural Lovers Key Nautical Flea Market and Boat Show
When: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., March 18-20
Where: Lovers Key State Park, located at 8700 Estero Boulevard
Cost: Suggested minimum donation of $5 for parking

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