The islands of Sanibel and Captiva will be going "shell crazy" in 2012 with the arrival of the 75th Annual Shell Fair & Show and "Shellabration!" scheduled to take place from Feb. 26 through March 4.
Because of the barrier islands unique boomerang shape and east-west orientation rather than the usual north-south positioning, the islands stick out in the Gulf of Mexico and act like a giant scoop for shells.
Shell collecting has been a favorite pastime for the residents and visitors to these islands for many decades and 75 years ago the first Shell Fair was held by winter residents to display their beautiful collections.
Matthew Lucker, Ben Kobe and Mitchell Rice at The Sanibel School's booth during the 74th Annual Shell Fair & Show, which was held in March.
Every year since, the annual Shell Fair & Show has continued to draw visitors, shell collectors and shell crafters together from around the world to display and admire shell collections and shell art.
As a tribute to the 75th Annual Shell Fair & Show, the entire community of Sanibel and Captiva is planning events and promotions that are shell-orientated, including:
Shell Couture - A fashion show "Project Runway"-style, with shell couture, at The Sanctuary Golf Club
75th Annual Shell Fair & Show
March 1 to 3, 2012
Sanibel Community House
2173 Periwinkle Way
The Sanibel Stoop - A gathering of shell seekers (or anyone who wants to have fun) at the beach doing the "Sanibel Stoop" to set a Guinness World Record. Event will be staged on Feb. 17.
Mollusk dining at local restaurants, including Traditions on the Beach (host of the opening gala on Feb. 26)
Shell book author receptions and signings
Shelling trips to remote island beaches
A special collector's edition shell-oriented fine jewelry
Collect-a-Bead shell necklaces
The Shell Fair & Show is put on annually in March by two longtime island organizatons, The Sanibel Shellcrafters and the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club. It is held on the grounds and inside the Sanibel Community House, located at 2173 Periwinkle Way. Next year's show will run from March 1 to 3.
The Shell Club presents a juried show, both scientific and artistic divisions, with participants from all over the country. The displays offer an education in shell identification and an appreciation for the artistry of shell arrangements.
In addition, the Shell Club promotes interests in shells and natural environments and with monies earned at the show, provides grants and project support to the local schoolchildren, the Bailey-Mattews Shell Museum and marine programs.
For an exhibitor application, visit www.sanibelcaptivashellclub.com.
The Sanibel Community House is operated by the Sanibel Community Association (SCA), which provides "crafting" space to the Shellcrafters who gather every Monday throughout the year to create lovely and whimsical shell creations available for sale at the Shell Fair.
Other yearlong activities include collecting, cleaning, and sorting of shells that are used for crafting and also sold at the fair. Many of the shells are donated from collections of residents and visitors to our comunity allowing Sanibel's greatest natural resource to be recycled for the enjoyment of others.
The Shell Fair & Show offers an entire tent full of local shells for sale at the show. All income from the Shellcrafters work is donated back to the SCA to help with operating the Sanibel Community House.
For more information on the Sanibel Community House, visit www.sanibelcommunityhouse.net.