Picture an event that brings you back to the good old days when an entire community celebrated together for one day every year. The Florida Ice Cream Festival, presented by Magnify Credit Union, is an original, old-fashioned neighborhood event and is the first of its kind locally.

This first annual ice cream festival will be held at Joker Marchant Stadium, located at 2301 Lakeland Hills Blvd. in Lakeland on Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. The cost to enter is $3 at the gate (no extra charge for parking). A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Magnify Life Foundation and the Detroit Tigers Foundation of Florida. Funds will benefit area programs and non-profits.

Ice Cream has always been a passion of the event’s founder, John Santarpia, who is President/CEO of Magnify Credit Union. Santarpia said, “I visited the Austin, TX Ice cream Festival in 2009 and always wanted to promote a festival one day. With our strong commitment to financial literacy for our children, I wanted to raise funds for our foundation, the Magnify Life Foundation, Inc. to further promote financial literacy, so the Florida Ice Cream Festival became a reality.”

Attendees will experience a variety of things to do, see, and eat during this fun-filled day of family entertainment and activities. The younger (and maybe older) crowd will enjoy old-fashioned field races,  18 holes of miniature golf, face painting, bounce houses, arts and crafts, rock climbing, and a live DJ.

Ice cream vendors representing national and local manufacturers will be there. Enjoy your favorite flavors and some new ones.

Live entertainment will be on the Stadium stage throughout the day prior to and following the ice cream eating contests.

Celebrities, first responders, amateurs and youth will compete in the under card ice cream eating contests leading up to the featured event…The Magnify Credit Union World Ice Cream Eating Championship. World Champion Eater, Joey Chestnut, will compete against professional eaters for the prestige of this World Championship title.

He will face tough competition from the likes of Patrick “Deep Dish” Bertoletti, Crazy Legs Conti, Juan Rodriguez and local competitors RJ Frasca and Bill Weller. Ice cream is considered to be among the most demanding of all eating disciplines due to the ever-present threat of “brain freeze.” The contest will take place at 4 p.m. The champion will take home $2,000, with second-place through sixth-place finishers receiving $1,000, $600, $400, $200 and $100, respectively.

For more information, visit or to purchase tickets for $2 online, visit


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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.