The family of Cheryl Fishel announced today that the longtime Pig on the Pond Festival event manager passed away yesterday at South Lake Hospital after a battle with leukemia. She was 57.

“Cheryl is irreplaceable,” said Paul Rountree, president of the Project Scholars Board of Directors, the parent organization of the festival. “Her passion to make the event successful in order to fund scholarships for young people was remarkable. She was one of the hardest-working, nicest people I have ever known, and we will miss her terribly.”

Pig on the Pond Festival

In 1998, Fishel and a small group started Pig on the Pond Festival as a way to fund scholarships for deserving students graduating from one of the south Lake County high schools. What started out as a small barbecue competition grew into a three-day extravaganza with a carnival, fireworks, live entertainment and large food concessions, including the famous barbecue meals. Fishel not only managed the event but also worked hard to get sponsors and other participants. She opened up the event to other nonprofits so that they could share in the proceeds; and after the event, she would personally thank partners, such as the City of Clermont, by bringing them bouquets of pink carnations.

It is estimated that the scholarship fund has provided more than $600,000 in scholarships for hundreds of south Lake County students.

While she was most associated with Pig on the Pond Community Festival, Fishel also managed for many years the South Lake Chamber’s Taste of South Lake and the annual Teacher Appreciation Breakfast, co-sponsored by Project Scholars and the Chamber. The breakfast included a giant pep rally for all educators in south Lake County at the beginning of the school year and provided thousands of dollars for classroom needs.

Breyonna Bell, a University of Central Florida graduate who was one of the first scholarship recipients and was mentored by Fishel, said, “I’m so sad. She checked in with me all the time to see how I was doing. She always had a big smile and a hug for me. She felt like family.”

Funeral arrangements are in progress at Brewer & Sons Funeral Homes in Clermont. In lieu of flowers, Fishel’s family requests that contributions be made to the Project Scholars scholarship fund at a link on

More about Project Scholars at

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