Board Of County Commissioners
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 20, 2000) – More than 12,000 people attended the March 11 Lee County Library System Reading Festival in Centennial Park, according to a recently calculated crowd estimate, easily surpassing organizers’ goal of 8,000 attendees for the first-ever event.
The crowd estimate was based on information from vendors and discussions with participating organizations.
“It really exceeded our expectations – especially for a first-time event,” says Libraries Director Cynthia Cobb. “We’re already planning for a bigger and better festival next year. It was especially nice to see children, young adults, families and seniors all enjoying themselves together at the festival. There was something for everyone.”
The all-day festival included nationally recognized authors, reading-related agencies and businesses, storytellers, puppet shows, the Symphony of Southwest Florida, free books and magazines for kids and food vendors. Sponsors and in-kind donations funded the $145,000 cost. Community sponsors included The Foundation for the Lee County Library System, The News-Press, WINK-TV, Newspapers in Education, Eye Centers of Florida, Barnes & Noble, GE, the Symphony of Southwest Florida, rock band Spilt Milk, and radio stations WINK 96.9, Lite FM 93.5, the City of Fort Myers, Sprint and Publix.
The keynote speaker was award-winning author Carl Hiaasen, a Miami Herald columnist and former investigative reporter, who is known for his many books depicting the quirky side of the Florida experience, including Tourist Season, Strip Tease and Sick Puppy.
The Lee County Library System has three regional libraries, eight branch libraries, and special services including a Bookmobile, a Talking Books library, a Books-By-Mail program and a Family Literacy Program. The Library System circulates more than 2.5 million books annually, adds 100,000 new books to its collection each year and now has public Internet access at all of its locations. It currently is building its 12th location, East County Regional Library, in Lehigh Acres.