The Junior League’s Taste of the Town is Southwest Florida’s original “taste” event and one of the largest outdoor food and entertainment festivals. The 2014 event attracted nearly 15,000 attendees. Funds from this one-day annual event benefit the JLFM, whose volunteer mission provides thousands of dollars annually in volunteer services and donations to programs supporting women and children in the region including the Junior League’s national program Kids in the Kitchen to help fight childhood obesity, the ongoing work with at-risk girls in the juvenile justice system, as well as work throughout the community in partnership with many organizations through the League’s Helping Hands program, which provides volunteer woman-power to organizations such as Big Brother Big Sisters, the Abuse Counseling & Treatment Shelter, Early Learning Coalition, the Supporting Independent Young Adults organization and many more.
The previous year’s event raised just more than $114,000.
“Supporting the community never tasted so good,” said Sasha Warren, 2014-2015 president of the JLFM. “We cannot thank our participating restaurants, attendees and sponsors for making this year’s event so successful.”
Plans are already underway for this year’s event which will once again be held at JetBlue Park, the Boston Red Sox’s 106-acre Spring Training and Player Development Complex, located at 11500 Fenway South Drive in Fort Myers on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015.
This year’s Taste of the Town co-chairs are familiar faces. Karen Hutto and Shirley Snyder McLaren co-chaired the inaugural Taste of the Town at JetBlue Park in 2013.
Originally from Baton Rouge, La., Hutto moved to Fort Myers in 1991. She serves as director of operations for Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. For 11 years, she owned and operated her own catering and event company The Flying Pig. She has been a Junior League member since 2002 and has served on the Taste of the Town committee numerous times in different capacities. She has also served on the boards of Gulf Coast Symphony and The Heights Foundation.
Snyder McLaren was born and raised in Southwest Florida. She received her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of South Florida and a master’s in accounting and taxation from Florida Gulf Coast University. Her professional background includes accounting, tax planning and management. She joined the Junior League in 1997, and her volunteer roles have included president, president-elect, finance vice president, treasurer, cookbook chair, cookbook treasurer, cookbook committee, asset manager, community project chair, parliamentarian, as well as serving on the Taste of the Town committee for several years.
According to the Junior League Taste of the Town committee, it’s not too early for local restaurants to reserve their spots to showcase their fare in the 2015 Taste of the Town. Interested restaurants and vendors may contact the JLFM at 239-277-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited to 50 restaurants.
“This event is so much more than a fundraiser; it’s a win-win for our community,” Warren added. “Taste of the Town promotes and supports local businesses and the musical arts, creates resources for community service and brings our community together.”
A member of the Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., the Junior League of Fort Myers, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization made up of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. The JLFM is also a granting organization, providing mini-grants to organizations through out Southwest Florida’s five-county area to programs that create better life outcomes for our area’s youth. JLFM memberships are open to all women aged 21 and older of all races, religions and national origin who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to voluntarism. For more information about the JLFM League, call 239-277-1197 or visit www.jlfm.org.