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Nautical Flea Market & Boat Show at Lovers Key benefits FOLKS and Rotary

February 7, 2018
By ANITA FORCE MARSHALL ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The three-day Nautical Flea Market & Boat Show set to open Friday at Lovers Key State Park will feature everything, well, nautical - arts, crafts, clothing, fishing and cruising equipment, boats and more.

Lots more - and all to benefit two local charities.

"It's such a great venue in the open field at Lovers Key State Park," said Mark Generales, senior vice president at Southern Trust Financial and a board member of FOLKS and the Rotary Club of Bonita Springs. "We have 50 vendors and four boat dealers - Fish Tale, The Boat Place, Marina Mikes, and Marine Max - and the Rotary Club and FOLKS share the proceeds. This is our third year and we are so proud that our money goes to such great causes and our location is so beautiful."

The Lovers Key Nautical Flea Market & Boat Show will run Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9 and 10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the park at 8700 Estero Blvd. between Bonita Springs and Fort Myers Beach.

"It's a $5 donation to get in (children 10 years and under are free) and 100 percent of your admission goes to charitable means," Generales said. "All the proceeds from the event will benefit Lovers Key State Park and the Bonita Springs Rotary Club, and we are looking forward to making our goals for Lovers Key a little closer. It takes lots of planning all year with scheduling and organizing to make this event a success."

The event also offers on opportunity to visit the park.

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"Lovers Key is the No. 2 most visited park in the state of Florida," Generales said. "Around 12 years ago, the state made a master plan that recommended Lovers Key have an education center because of its high volume and popularity. We still don't have that (totally) fulfilled today, so FOLKS is trying to accomplish that."

Generales, as a private citizen, traveled to and lobbied in Tallahassee for funds to build the much-needed education center.

"Lovers Key is so special because it's tucked away, isolated, (and) filters lots of the sea water for our sea life," Generales said. "It's very environmentally important to our area, but it doesn't get the recognition it deserves."

The state agreed with Generales and those speaking on behalf of building an education center. But receiving the money is only half the battle.

"We have the education center funds," Generales said. "(But) now we have to raise money for furnishings, electronics, exhibits and staffing. FOLKS is on a mission for those funds plus funds that assists projects of the park rangers and managers and staff."

"Our show has many specialty items with lots of diversity in vendors, and not a lot of duplications in vendors - we have been very thoughtful in our selections," Generales added. "It is a comfortable crowd because we have lots of room and a large, easy parking area."

There will be food to purchase by Fitzgerald's Restaurant, ice cream by Royal Scoop and a very popular Beer Garden sponsored by the Rotary Club of Bonita Springs.

"My favorite part of the three days is seeing the exhibitors doing well and knowing that everyone is happy," Generales said. "It's really neat that when we are a success for the people who come see us and our vendors. We would like everyone to say, 'I had a great day and I will be back.'"

"Everyone loves our show and market," Generales said. "Seniors, fishermen, families, boat lovers - anyone who loves our Southwest Florida living. You can always bring back something special to remember your great day at the Nautical Market and Boat Show at Lovers Key."



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