Winter may have come to Southwest Florida but members of the Lehigh Spring Festival want to get the word out that there are plans for a nine-day festival between March 18 - 26. That's according to Liz Eilf, publicity chairman for the Spring Festival Committee.
Eilf said the star attraction this year, like in former years, is an "up and coming country music artist."
"His name is Brett Eldredge and he has a hit song that he's recorded titled "Raymond," and it's really beautiful. You can Google his name and listen to the song Bretteldredge.com," Eilf said.
Brett Eldredge as he appears on his album cover. He will be the star performer at the Spring Festival's opening weekend concert.
She said the Spring Festival has had two former performers in the last few years who were also up and coming who now are well-known country music artists at the top of the charts.
"We had Taylor Swift and we had Lady Antebellum as star attractions two different years and look at them now; they are pretty big country music stars. The same thing may happen to Brett Eldredge," Eilf said.
The festival opens on Friday night, March 18 with ceremonies followed by local music on the outside stage at Veterans Park.
Eldredge will perform on Saturday night, March 19 at 8 p.m., Eilf said.
She said the upcoming Spring Festival theme will be "Around the World in nine days."
"We've selected this theme because it is a nine-day festival," she said. Eilf is a member of the board of directors of the Spring Festival Committee whose chairman is Andy Reisinger, who for several years has headed up the committee planning the gala parade on the second Saturday of the Festival which will be on March 26. He is doing double duty this year, still acting as the parade planner.
Eilf said on Sunday, March 20, the following night from the Eldredge concert, Lehigh Acres visitors are in for another great night of music.
"Krystal Walters, who lives in Lehigh and is the daughter of Daryl Walters, will sing at the Sunday night concert. She was the adult winner of last year's Festival Spring Idol Contest and is contemplating making an album," Eilf said.
A gala display of fireworks is planned following Walters' concert at Veterans Park.
"This will be the first time for Lehigh to have a great fireworks display for a few years," she said.
The concerts are free as are all events at the festival. There is a $3 charge to park inside Veterans Park.
There will be a midway with rides and vendors of carnival foods, too, and it will be open every night with special prices if a family buys a hand band for their children.
"The Spring Festival has been a tradition in Lehigh for more than 30 years," Eilf said. "When they started it, the community put on the week of fun to bid farewell to the snowbirds who had come to Lehigh for the winter."
All of the traditional events are planned such as the bubble blowing contest, the different baby contest, the pet contest and the Miss Spring Festival competitions.
Eilf also said that the Festival Idol Contests - one for the young people and the other for adults, will again be held with Vicki Culver again acting as emcee of the contests. It will last most of the week with audience participation voting contestants off each night until at the end when a young person and an adult win the contests.
"People should not forget, too, that the 2012 honorary mayor of Lehigh contest will start January 1l and at the Spring Festival on the last weekend, the winner will be named.
Charlotte Rae Nicely, the executive director of Lehigh Social Services, made the announcement this week that those who want to be considered to be named the next honorary mayor should contact them on the corner of Beth Stacy Blvd. and 1202 Wings Way to get an application.
Nicely said contestants said select charities for money they raise during the 11-week campaign. Half of the money raised goes to Lehigh Social Services while the other half goes to the contestant's favorite charity. Sometimes, the honorary mayor winning contestant gives all of the money to Lehigh Community Services, which is a agency in Lehigh that provides help to the needy. Just before Christmas it handed out thousands of dollars worth of toys to more than 300 needy children. It also provides food and helps to pay utility payments.
Eilf said volunteers are needed for the festival and now is the time to contact her so plans can be made. She can be reached at 239-218-7883.
She said there will be a cooking contest, as usual, a contest for flower arrangements and other attractions.
Also this year, rides will be available on a tethered hot air balloon provided by the Remax Realty Team.
"Christmas is over and soon the new year will be upon us and it will be March before we know it. That's why the Spring Festival Committee wants everyone to mark their calendars for this fun nine-day event," Eilf said.
She said the website for the festival is currently being constructed by William Hoppe, a long-time volunteer. It is at: LehighAcresSpringFestival.com.