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The Sanibel Community House to hold 81st Annual Shell Festival March 1-3

February 21, 2018
FL Guide

The word "seashells" is synonymous with "Sanibel" and every year during the first week of March, shell enthusiasts from around the United States, Canada and as far away as Japan, head for the Sanibel Shell Festival and the most prestigious competitive Shell Show in the country. Winning an award at this show means you have "reached the top."

What can you expect to see at the Shell Festival? Shells, of course, but not only like those you might find them on the beach. The shells that come from around the world can be seen in fascinating exhibits and exquisite works of art, such as the ever-popular Sailor's Valentines, in the Shell Show. One exhibit includes 165 venomous snails, one deadly to humans. Another exhibit features sea-silk, a rare fabric whose history goes back to antiquity and the Mediterranean Sea. However for the first time ever, this sea-silk was spun from the silky hairs of our local pen shells.

Shells and artwork can be purchased both on the festival grounds and inside at the Shell Show. Literally thousands of shells are for sale and prices start at twenty-five cents.

The "Live Tank" area is where the Sanibel Elementary School 6th graders shine. For two months prior to the Sanibel Shell Festival, the students study about shells and mollusks, the animals that create the shells. During the festival they have the opportunity to share their knowledge with visitors who view multiple aquariums containing live mollusks.

While there is no entrance fee to the Shell Festival grounds, a $5 donation is requested to attend the inside Shell Show. Anyone who gives the requested donation will also be granted free admission to The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum during the Shell Festival, a $15 value.

All the funds raised by the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club are given in the form of grants to several local marine education and conservation organizations and for scholarship funds at the University of South Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University Departments of Marine & Ecological Science. All the funds raised by the outdoor activities go to the maintenance of the Sanibel Community House.

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The Shell Festival is March 1, 2, and 3 at the Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way. Hours for the Festival Grounds are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call (239) 472-2155 or go to



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