Annual Sanibel Shell Festival to showcase all things shells
With the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva well-known for their seashells — and for the collection of them — it is no surprise that the community holds the oldest-running event spotlighting them.
Organized and hosted by the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club, Sanibel Community Association and Shell Crafters, the 85th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival will be held on March 3-5 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Community House on Sanibel. It will feature a competitive show, shell sales, authors table and more.
Event co-chair Joyce Matthys explained that the event is a tradition for the community.
“This shell show is the longest-running shell show in the world,” she said.
The inside of The Community House will hold the competition portion of the event, along with an authors table, shell identification assistance for unknown finds, shell jewelry and shell-themed artwork to buy, and the 14-karat, green, gold and platinum Mermaid Crown created by designer Todd Alan.
As for the competitive show, it is broken down into two divisions: scientific and artistic. For prior events, participating exhibitors have represented their different states and cities, even countries.
“Basically from around the United States,” Matthys said.
The Scientific Division will be a competition of shell collections, with the exhibits comprised of a single shell or multiple shells. About a dozen of the exhibits reach 20 feet to 40 feet in length.
“Each exhibit tells its own story,” she said. “You can read about the shells and about their stories.”
In the Artistic Division, works of art have been entered by professionals and hobbyists.
“There will be entries that range from a single stem of flowers that are created totally from shells or sea life, to a complete floral bouquet,” Matthys said, adding that there will be mirrors framed with shells, lamps, jewelry, photography and more. “Of course, the favorite of everyone are the sailor’s valentines.”
She reported that this year there are 30 classes in the Scientific Division with the top placers each receiving a ribbon, plus an additional 17 special awards that are distributed. For the Artistic Division, there are 59 classes with a ribbon handed out to the top winners, plus about 25 for special awards.
The authors table will spotlight illustrated books about shells and shell-crafting, Florida beaches and marine life, and a selection of books for children, young adult fiction and Sanibel-based mysteries.
On March 3, Amanda Collette, Jane Kirschner and Harlan Wittkopf will mann the table for the morning and sign copies of their books, followed by Karen Bartlett and Jennifer Lonoff Schiff in the afternoon.
Kirschner, Megan McCormick and James Usavage will be present the morning of March 4, with the afternoon hours to feature Collette and Wittkopf. On March 5, McCormick, Usavage and Wittkopf will mann the table during the morning shift, and Bartlett and Collette will return for the final afternoon.