Mango Mania in Florida
An annual festival pays homage to an island’s harvest of tropical fruit.
If you like tropical fruit, sunshine and Gulf breezes, then plan a visit to Pine Island, Florida’s Mango Mania July 13 and 14. Dubbed as the island’s Tropical Fruit Fair, this ode to the mango offers a chance to try the fruit prepared in more ways than you can imagine. You can get your fill via mango bread, mango salsa, mango ice cream and, of course, the mango pie-eating contest. And don’t leave without a jar of Cynthia Welch’s award-winning mango preserves, which can be used to make the Mango Pie recipe below.
With more than 7,000 attendees each year, this fruit festival is not secret. Located just 30 miles from Fort Myers on a funky slide of paradise known for its tropical fruit farms, painted electric poles and resident osprey, this year’s event offers both a professional and amateur cooking competition, lectures on cultivating mangoes and dozens of local vendors. Performances throughout the two-day festival include Damon Fowler, Debbie Davies, Wild Caught and Amiee Lynne.
Mango Mania was originally created by the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce to assist local farmers and growers on the island at harvest time. “Mango Mania is unique because it is all about the mangoes, and stepping on to Pine Island is like a step back in time to old Florida,” says Jennifer Jennings, director of the Chamber’s Welcome Center.
No Southern festival would be complete without an official queen, and Mango Mania is no exception. Queen Scarlett Player is actually true royalty; her mother served as Mango Queen in 2007. “I love the area, and this is a great way for me to share how fabulous Pine Island is with others,” Player says. Asked about future generations of her family serving, she adds, “I hope both my daughters will reign as Mango Queens in the future.”
Cynthia Welch’s Mango Pie
1 9-inch Graham cracker pie crust
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. Cool Whip
1 jar Paradise Gardens Mango Preserve (available at
Whip cream cheese until nice and creamy. Add mango preserve and blend well. Gently stir in the cool whip and blend well. Pour the mixture in the pie crust and chill for at least 1 hour. Decorate with slices of mango or drizzle a little warmed mango preserve on top.
Mango Mania takes place July 13-14 at the German American Club at 2101 Southwest Pine Island Road in Cape Coral, Florida. Festival hours are Saturday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults get in for $6, and children under 10 get in free.