Tyler Schoenherr, SCA Shell co-chair, handles the credit card transactions at the Shell Festival. (Below right) One of the many display cases in Anne Joffe's Mollusk General Hospital, the centerpiece of this year's Shell Show. (Bottom) The grounds of the Community House were bustling on opening day, Thursday, March 3. SC photos by Shannen Hayes
Tyler Schoenherr, SCA Shell co-chair, handles the credit card transactions at the Shell Festival. (Below right) One of the many display cases in Anne Joffe's Mollusk General Hospital, the centerpiece of this year's Shell Show. (Bottom) The grounds of the Community House were bustling on opening day, Thursday, March 3. SC photos by Shannen Hayes

The Sanibel Shell Festival was great inside and out on the first day of its 79th edition, Thursday, March 3.

The turnout has been wonderful,” said Mary Burton, chair of the prestigious Sanibel Shell Show, which occupied the inside of the Sanibel Community House. “We have a good turnout every year, but to look around and see all these people is gratifying.”

The feelings were equally bright outside as the tents of shells and shell creations basked in the sunlight of a perfect Sanibel day.

I don't know what more we could ask for. We just hope the weather stays just like this through Saturday,” said Tyler Schoenherr, who is Sanibel Community Association Shell co-chair along with his wife Sue.

It's the volunteers that make this happen, and it is great to see it all come together,” he said.

Both Schoenherr and Burton remarked about the cooperation between the Shell Festival and Shell Show.

We've got everybody working together here now. We've got one of the premier shell shows in the world and it just keeps getting better,” Burton said.

She said she was moving slowly on Periwinkle Way on her way to the Community House early Thursday.

I said that I hoped that are all going to the Shell Festival. I think they were,” she quipped. “We do have a wonderful crowd and I know that when the volunteers look around they feel the same way I do. It makes all the work worthwhile.”

The judging was done and the ribbons adorn the winners in the Shell Show. This year's Shell Show, which holds an undisputed place among the world's elite shell shows, once again features stunning exhibits in both the Artistic Division, where the always popular sailor’s valentines are housed, and the Scientific Division. This year the Scientific Division in the Community House's main room features the extra-special Mollusk General Hospital by Sanibel super sheller Anne Joffe.

Burton took over from Joffe four years ago as Shell Show chair, allowing Joffe the time to create the sprawling Mollusk General Hospital. She received the shows most prestigious award which is named in her honor, the Anne Joffe Superstar Award.

It's unbelievable. There is always so much to see here, but everyone must see Anne's creation,” Burton said.

The Shell Festival continues Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the grounds is free. The $5 donation to the Shell Show includes free admission to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum and an attractive bag of shells.