Cape Coral festival features Loverboy, Tippin, food, fun

Nov 8 | Posted by: Bombplates

via Naples Daily News

Once a year, according to its Coconut Festival slogan, the city of Cape Coral goes nuts. And that's a good thing.

It spends about $200,000 to throw a party with rides, food and household-name entertainment — and makes $80,000 in profit to help pay for Parks and Recreation Department programs like soccer, baseball "and all the other programs that don't have a (city) revenue stream," said special events director Todd King. And while there are plenty of coconut palms in the Cape, the festival name is more about the "going nuts" part, over the city's birthday — which is really several weeks earlier, but then it's too hot to plan a party — and how much the city has to offer.

National talent is lined up, but in many ways the Coconut Festival, now in its 9th year, remains a homegrown party.
This year big draws are country stars Sammy Kershaw and Aaron Tippin on Friday night and rock legend Loverboy ("Working for the Weekend," "Turn Me Loose") on Saturday.

That is unless you're a bigger fan of aspiring local talent, or hometown queen's pageants, or big fireworks displays sponsored by a local business, or even steak sandwiches and funnel cakes made by familiar folks. There are plenty of all of those, too.
The festival runs from Thursday to Sunday on the grounds of Sun Splash Family Waterpark and includes all that.

In addition to the 300,000 people expected to attend, vendor Ryan Collmer will be there with his wife, Nichole. They own Meatball Factory, a company with 10 concession stands that visit county and state fairs in the eastern United States. But this celebration is closer to the owners' hearts — and home. "My wife and I grew up in Cape Coral and it is where we live when not on the road," Collmer said. They'll be offering pizza, homemade Italian Sausage, London Broil steak sandwiches, chicken pitas, homemade giant corn dogs, salads, elephant ears, funnel cakes and fried Oreos.

Finishing her reign as Coconut Festival Queen, the first in festival history, is 22-year-old Angela Maglione, the daughter of a local police sergeant and a student at Florida Gulf Coast University. Maglione is studying resort and hospitality management, so representing Cape Coral at events the past year has been a bit of on-the-job training. She most enjoyed riding in the Veterans Day parade, she said, particularly since her father is a veteran of the U.S. Marines.

"I love anything to do with veterans," she said. "They give us so much. Just doing something as small as riding in a parade (in their honor) makes me feel so good."

As the Cape's first queen, she is on a committee to expand the Coconut Royals program, which awards $2,500 in scholarship money and includes a queen who is between 17 and 25 and a court of "junior royals" ages 5 to 13. And although she's giving up her crown to one of two finalists at the festival on Saturday night, she's planning to be present for anything her hometown needs in the future.

"It's sad that I have to leave but I'm so excited to see the program grow," she said.

A prize of $100 is at stake for the young performer between 6 and 17 who earns the "Coconut Idol" title. He or she will follow in the footsteps of Spencer Sosa, the 13-year-old who in 2013 captured the honor by singing Hunter Hayes' "Somebody's Heartbreak." Finals are at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Dubbed "Coco Country" night, Friday features Tippin and Kershaw sharing the stage to tell stories and sing 20 of their top 10 hits in an acoustic show they call "Roots & Boots." "Coco Rock" night Saturday brings on classic rock band Loverboy. Both main events are preceded by fireworks at 9 p.m. sponsored by Fucillo Kia.

A second stage will feature Polynesian dancers, a Cirque du Soleil-type performance and other local acts hourly onstage throughout the weekend.

If you go
Cape Coral Coconut Festival
What:: Live entertainment on two stages, carnival rides, foods, games and contests, fireworks Friday and Saturday
When: 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
Where: Sun Splash Family Waterpark, 400 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral (water park will be closed)
Parking: Free, but limited, on Sun Splash grounds
Admission: $7; children under 5 admitted free. All-day ride wristbands $20 in advance at City Hall Parks and Recreation Department, Achieva Credit Union offices, Fuccillo Kia; $25 on festival grounds.
Information: cocofest.com

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