The Sanibel Island Arts and Craft Fair is a much-anticipated yearly event in southwest Florida that begin in 1984 through the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club. It started as a Pancake Breakfast, which is a fairly common fundraiser for Rotary Clubs everywhere. In 1981 George Brauch and Jack Slagle spent $550, bought two grills, and rented out the Sanibel Community House to hold the annual pancake event. But over the course of the next couple of years, the two men were fielding many requests from local artists to exhibit their work during breakfast. So, being the innovators that Rotarians are, the club decided in 1984 that an Arts and Crafts show would take place during the fundraiser. In 1985, the event was expanded to two days, and by 1986 we had stopped selling pancakes all together, and the Fair had become the major fundraiser for the club!
In 1988, the show doubled in size and was moved to the recreational area near the Sanibel School. The two-day event moved back to the Community House environs in 2003 and has been held there ever since. Over the course of 28 years, two locations and hundreds of volunteers, and with the support of one very generous community, the Fair has become one of the largest-attended and well-loved events on the Island (and throughout southwest Florida!). Through the fair, we have been able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support projects in places as far-flung as Tanzania and Tajikistan. Thanks to the Fair, there are now two endowed scholarships at the University of Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University, a new cafeteria/auditorium at the Sanibel School, and a flagpole that greets everyone as they come onto our Island. What does the future hold? Come to the Fair every year and we will find out together!
See the 2013 Sanibel Art Fair Rotary Program.