Mango ceviche, mango salsa, mango key lime pie, mango lemonade…mangoes, mangoes, everywhere. About a month ago, the Facebook posts started popping up, “I lost my tree during Hurricane Irma, if anyone has any extra mangoes, please send them my way.”

Here’s your chance. On Saturday, July 21, Key West’s Mango Festival will not only have mango trees ready to plant at home, but all the mangoes – in every way, shape and form – to kick the cravings right in the taste buds. And the best part: by supporting this event, mango lovers will also support the Police Athletic League’s free kids programs, like summer camps and jujitsu programs.

The judges, Florida Keys Community College’s Jonathan Gueverra, Key West Police Chief Donnie Lee, and Dennis Wardlow try all the mango delights.

“Mango season is an exciting season in our community,” said Key West Police Detective Jesse Hammers, who sits on the PAL board and created the event to raise money for the kid-based programs. “It’s been a tough year for mango trees, but we are resilient. That’s the theme this year, resiliency.”

Last year, the event raised about $13,000. Hammers hopes this year to bring in more than $15,000. More than 40 Key West police officers donate time to PAL, which provides a safe place where kids can go after school and on the weekends. It encourages teamwork and strong self-esteem. PAL supports many athletic endeavors, as well as computer classes and educational activities. Hammers hopes in the future to raise enough funds to start a PAL culinary and agricultural program for local kids.

The Mango Man Jesse Hammers works hard to raise money for PAL.

At least 10 local restaurants – think Ocean Key Resort, Kermit’s and Mr. Z’s – will have food for tasting, as well as four categories to compete in: appetizer, main entree, dessert, and cocktail. Grimal Grove will have mango trees for sale, and trees from the Redlands will be available. A highlight is the barbeque pit grilling mango-inspired grub and the frozen mango daiquiris. Music will be jamming at the event thanks to police officer DJ Igor. Local artisans will also have crafts available, and, of course, there will be lots of things for kids to do.

To become a sponsor, vendor, or to donate to the silent auction, call Hammers at 305-809-3874.

Key West Mango Festival
Saturday, July 21
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Bayview Park
mangofestkeywest.com

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