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Island Hopper Songwriter Fest brings musical boost to off-season tourism

Be a part of a win-win event this month by attending the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, a cultural event for the community that will also help draw tourists.

Island Hopper Fest will take place Sept. 17 to 27 at three venues: Captiva (Sept. 17 to 20), Fort Myers Beach (Sept. 22, 24 to 27) and downtown Fort Myers (Sept. 21 to 24).

Francesca Donlan, communication manager at the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, said that tourism in Lee County dips in the off-season, especially in September and October. So, the goal is to create an event that will draw visitors to the area in that time frame.

“The VCB launched the first annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest last year, and it was a tremendous success,” Donlan said. “It drew visitors and increased revenue for many of our hoteliers, restaurants and attractions.”

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Not only will visitors enjoy the scenic gulf beaches, sunsets and Florida’s warm weather, but they will also get to enjoy complimentary performances — except those of Kristin Bush, who will be performing Sept. 17 on Captiva, and Jana Kramer, who will be performing Sept. 22 on Fort Myers Beach. Tickets for Bush and Kramer will cost $15 each.

Presenting this event are the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, iHeartMedia, Cat Country 107.1 and Broadcast Music, Inc., the largest music rights organization in the U.S.

Everyone is expecting this year to be even bigger and better.

“We have 70 artists, 136 performances and three venues,” Donlan said. “We also have added downtown Fort Myers to our locations, which include Fort Myers Beach and Captiva. We continue to expect it will be the most exciting event of the year.”

Songwriters and performers have dedicated their heart and time for making an appearance at this festival.

“We have four headliners: LoCash, Parmalee, Kristen Bush and Jana Kramer,” Donlan said. Parmalee is already sold out.

There will also be a lot of hit-makers. James Slater will be singing Martina McBride’s hit, “In My Daughter’s Eyes.” Philip White will perform the 2002 Academy of Country Music Song of the Year, Rascal Flatts’ “I’m Movin’ On.” George Ducas will perform the No. 1 country hit in 2005, “A Real Fine Place to Start” by Sara Evans. The audience will also hear Brad Paisley’s No. 1 single in 2008, “Waitin’ on a Woman,” covered by singer Wynn Varble. And, if you are familiar with Faith Hill’s 2006 top-10 single, “Sunshine and Summertime,” you can sing it along with Kylie Sackley and Jeff Cohen, who will also be performing The Band Perry’s “Postcard from Paris,” a top-10 single in 2012.

“The most important reason a college student should attend this event is because it’s free,” Donlan said. “Except for the three shows, which cost $15, all of the live music events are free. This is a unique opportunity to hear the stories behind the hit songs and meet the songwriters.”

For more information on the event, visit and follow the festival’s hashtag #islandhopper on Twitter and other social media sites.

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