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Inaugural Nautical Expo coming to the Lee Civic Center

By CHUCK BALLARO - | May 12, 2021


What started three months ago as an idea has morphed into one of the biggest events the area has seen since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago.

It is going to be a very busy weekend at the Lee Civic Center as Nautical Mile Magazine presents the inaugural Nautical Expo, which will feature just about everything you would want pertaining to the water, including a mermaid.

The expo will happen Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Jim Griffiths, publisher and promoter of the event, believes this event will be like no other.

“This started in February when everything was closed. This was going to be in a parking lot in Cape Coral. One thing led to another and soon everyone was hopping aboard across the state,” Griffiths said. “It has turned out to be one of the biggest events of its kind on the Gulf Coast.”

Griffiths said the show is in response to the pandemic and those who rely on these shows to make their living to get back to work.

“I knew that people not only wanted a show but that vendors around the state lost their permits throughout the year and had no shows,” Griffiths said. “These people know each other and they tell their friends, who tell their friends.”

Griffiths said he continues to get calls from people looking for vendor space. With 100 acres outdoors, Griffiths said he should have plenty of space to accommodate those who want to take part. Inside spots at the civic center sold out in March.

The event will feature international Mermaid Faith Lynn, a Miss Nautical Expo pageant, more than 100 arts and crafts vendors from throughout the state, RC race boats, a nautical flea market, Go-Swim models, fishing seminars in an air-conditioned 250-seat seminar room, live gators and snakes, numerous food trucks, Knockerball, jewelry, antiques and much more.

Griffiths said the beauty pageant is going to be the most significant thing to happen, with the pageant happening in two segments, with seminars in between.

Faith Lynn will perform wearning a 300-pound tail inside a large clam shell.

The arts and crafts show will have everything from well-known artists to locals who sell painted coconuts and wind chimes, Griffiths said.

Another attraction will be the food trucks, of which there will be more than 50 portions to choose from, all $5 or less. Griffiths is sending in a 100-foot circus tent so people can stay out of the hot sun.

The Nautical Expo is expected to draw thousands to the civic center, perhaps even set records for a two-day event. Griffiths said he has already put in a deposit to hold the second annual event Feb. 4 – 6.

Admission is $12, with kids under 18 free. Parking is $5. For more information go to www.NauticalMileMagazine.com.

The Lee Civic Center is at 11831 Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers.