Mary Ann Martin: Named 2019 Sugar Fest’s honoree

CLEWISTON — Mary Ann Martin has been named the 2019 Sugar Festival honoree and will be feted during the Breakfast at the Chamber this morning, March 13, at 8 a.m.

Said the nomination that won her this recognition, from a person who wished to remain anonymous:

“Mary Ann’s enthusiasm in promoting our community has been steadfast. Mary Ann sets an example of service by voicing her love of Lake Okeechobee and bass fishing wherever she goes, along with an invitation of ‘Y’all come and see us!’ Her invite is always coupled with her pride of our agricultural roots by stating her love for America’s Sweetest Town!

“Her business acumen has led to one of the most successful small businesses in the Glades — Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort. For over 35 years, she has helped to strengthen the economic viability of our community as an employer, as a host of visitors, as a respite provider for winter residents and as a bass fishing tournament mecca! Mary Ann’s accomplishments and work in the community is interlaced with her abiding dedication to her children, Scott and Laura, along with their families. There is no doubt that her family is what continues to inspire her in serving our community and its future well-being. She is truly worthy of the recognition!”

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
Mary Ann Martin, owner of Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort in Clewiston (right), met with (from left) Clewiston Mayor Mali Gardner, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami and Hendry County Commissioner Karson Turner during a dike tour July 10, 2017. Ms. Martin has been a tireless advocate for Lake Okeechobee for decades.

So her contributions to the Clewiston community and economy will be duly celebrated during America’s Sweetest Town’s signature event, the Sugar Festival.

According to their “About Us” section on the website, Ms. Martin and her then-husband, Roland, used to visit Lake Okeechobee during the mid-1960s through the 1970s, when he was filming his show “Fishing With Roland Martin,” and fell in love with the lake, the area, the bass fishing, the weather, the people and the Southern hospitality they encountered. So in 1981, the couple bought a little fishing-shack marina and some vacant lakeside property and decided to open their own marina.

In 1986 they began building up the property into what it is today. Now, the Roland and Mary Ann Martin Marina & Resort comprises motels, condominiums, a restaurant, an outdoor tiki bar and grill, a marina store, tackle store, marine service center and RV park; also, professional fishing-guide services and airboat rides are offered.

The Martins and their son, famed pro fisherman Scott Martin, have been outspoken advocates of maintaining Lake Okeechobee’s ecosystem and watershed in as near to natural conditions as possible, given the huge Central and South Florida plumbing systems connected to it that sustain a safe water supply, the Everglades, a national park and national preserves to the south, Indian tribal lands, millions of Floridians and countless forms of wildlife. Not to mention the foodstuffs the region produces, which helps to feed the nation and the world’s peoples.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Mary Ann Martin, in her own words and pictures.

Chris Felker can be reached at

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