If you’ve looking for Florida Keys events that generate real family fun, then plan to be in Islamorada on the weekend of March 28-29, 2015. Find your way to Founders Park at Mile Marker 87 bayside. That’s where you’ll find the 24th annual Florida Keys Island Fest—a free outdoor event that will keep everyone busy, happy and full.
The festival, which opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. each day, includes an arts and crafts show, live musical entertainment, a classic car show, children’s activities, plenty of food, and much more. The scheduled activities will take place no matter the weather. Bring blankets and lounge chairs—and for a $5 donation you can park onsite, which means you won’t have to tote them as far.
Here are some expected highlights:
Arts and Crafts Show
More than 100 artists and crafters from around the country will display their wares both days. You’ll be able to buy sculptures, paintings, handmade jewelry and more. Noel Skiba, an acrylic and oil artist who resides on Big Pine Key, will be available to sign prints of her painting “Palm Sunset in Paradise,” which has been named the official festival poster for 2015.
Classic Car Show
The All-American Road Vintage Cruisers Car Show rolls along at Florida Keys Island Fest for the fifth year in a row. Collectors exhibit their antique cars, trucks, motorcycles and rat rods (early hot rods). Crowds usually swell during the show owing to its visibility from U.S. 1 and the passersby it then attracts. The event is named in honor of U.S. 1, the only officially designated All-American Road in Florida. The exhibitors will be vying for awards in the categories Coolest Cruiser, Raddest Rod, KeyZ Rider, Longest Haul, Big Kahuna, Funkiest Foreign, Best of Show and People’s Choice.
You’ll be able to enjoy live music all day each day from a series of performances on the beach stage overlooking Florida Bay. You’ll hear country, blues, Southern rock, the indigenous “keys” sound and more.
The headliner on Day 1 is Cecilia Lauren and the Ocoee River Band, a gritty and versatile band with a repertoire than ranges from Guns N’ Roses to Patsy Cline. The leading acts on Day 2 are Pitbull of Blues Band and the Tim Charron Band. The Pitbull of Blues Band, fronted by Josh Rowand (aka “The Pitbull of Blues”) and known for its versatility within the blues genre as well as its high energy, has been a popular act at Keys Island Fest for years. Tim Charron delivers hard-driving country rock with a polish that’s earned warm-up gigs for superstars like Willie Nelson, Clint Black and the Charlie Daniels Band.
The festival committee has contests and other activities planned for children throughout the weekend. Kids will compete to see who performs best with a hula-hoop and who builds the best sandcastle. They’ll also have the opportunity to display their artistic talents by painting a life-sized dolphin statue.
Food and Drink
Food and drink will be abundant at the festival, highlighted on Sunday by the annual Taste of Islamorada competition among local restaurateurs. Be on the lookout, too, for the popular IslaMarauder Rum Punch stand and some presence from Islamorada™ Beer Company—maybe even an appearance by the local upstart company’s Sandbar Sunday beer truck.
Something New This Year
One of the first-day festival highlights will be a new event this year; a judging and racing competition for homemade boats called “What Floats Your Boat?”
The criteria for boats, you ask? They may be built of any material not previously part of a boat, paddle board or any other watercraft. Engines or motors are not allowed. The homemade boats must be powered by paddles, sails or flippers or by other human or natural means.
Entries are still being accepted for the event, which will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday assuming a field can be filled. In addition to judging in various categories (Yachtiest Award, Thriftiest Award, Anchor Award, Krazy Krewe Award, Sink and Swim Award), the event includes racing heat to determine an overall champion. The winner will receive the Lucky Ducky Admiral Award, envisioned as an annual traveling trophy to be celebrated for a year and then passed to the next champion, sort of like the America’s Cup.
The Florida Keys Island Fest in Islamorada is one of those quintessential Florida Keys events you simply shouldn’t miss. For more information, call the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce at 305.664.4503. The village of Islamorada offers great opportunities for family vacation fun every day, but Island Fest stands out as special.