For the ultimate winter getaway, look no further than Marathon Key, located in the heart of the sunny and temperate Florida Keys. This 10-mile island is a magnet for snowbirds, full-time sunseekers, and is widely considered one of the top vacation destinations in America. The turquoise waters, pristine white sand beaches, and diverse wildlife all inspire a feeling of a tropical excursion. Marathon Key is considered to be the top marine friendly cities in the region, featuring over 1,200 wet slips and over 1,200 dry slips. In addition, the island is home to a multitude of fun family-friendly activities. You’ll find many boutique shops, attractions, restaurants, and live entertainment options for you to enjoy. Head to the clean and beautiful beaches for sunbathing, beach games, diving, snorkeling, fishing, hiking, and so much more. The fun doesn't stop at the beach. You’ll find that the island has a rich and vibrant culture that comes through in the local art galleries, museums, and the events and festivals that the area is known for.
One festival in particular, the Pigeon Key Art Festival, has been a local hit for over two decades and is the perfect festival for the entire family. Thousands of locals vacation goers and fans of unique art descend upon the island for the event. The festival is held at sprawling Marathon Park in the heart of the island. The park is well maintained, clean, lush, and the ideal backdrop for an event that celebrates visual artistic mediums and the maritime heritage of the island. At the festival you’ll find an abundance of unique handmade art, as well as exhibits, activities, and hands-on learning opportunities, all centered around wildlife preservation and education. For entertainment, they will feature live music and demonstrations that are great for all ages. All the fun and activities will work up an appetite and there will be a variety food options, perfect for any taste. Take your next tropical excursion to the next level and head to Marathon Key for the one-of-a-kind Pigeon Key Art Festival. We got the chance to sit down with Jill Snodgrass, the Director of the Pigeon Key Art Festival, to talk about this unique art event.
RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.
JS: This is the 22nd Annual Pigeon Key Art Festival. We have had between 3,000 and 4,000 quality buyers for the last two years, however we have really intensified marketing and advertising for the festival this year and expect to attract an even larger crowd of art lovers. As far as demographics of the crowd go, we see families, retirees, honeymooners, adventurers, and everything in between.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
JS: At the festival, guests will find exhibits and displays, touch tanks, hands-on activities and even a puppet show that bring marine and wildlife education to life. Participants include Aquarium Encounters, Dolphin Research Center, Friends of the Marine Sanctuary, Marathon Wild Bird Center at Crane Point Hammock, Park Shore Day Camp, Save a Turtle, and The Turtle Hospital. There will be live entertainment changing every 30 minutes on the bandshell stage both days of the festival. At the top of every hour there will be an official festival t-shirt drawing.
RAL: Take me through what people will find at the festival during a typical day?
JS: New to the festival this year are activities including: historical elements, period entertainment and educational programing highlighting the Pigeon Key Foundation’s important projects.
We will have an appearance by world renowned wildlife/marine artist Wyland, who will be doing live ink drawings, signing autographs, and posing for pictures. He is also bringing a large canvas to paint with children who attend the festival.
Our festival will have a wide variety of local food vendors, with food choices such as: hamburgers, Greek, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian along with kettle corn, funnel cakes and smoothies. We will also have beer and wine selections for our adult guests.
RAL: What is the overall environment of the festival like?
JS: The festival is held at the beautiful and clean Marathon Community Park. The environment is laid back, warm and welcoming. The park has ample space for thousands of visitors and includes a large bandshell and ample restrooms.
RAL: What can an attendees expect to find for local lodging?
JS: Recently, we secured a discount at the brand new Hyatt just a mile from the venue. There are several dozen ‘mom and pop’ motels within a 15-minute walk of the park. Regardless of the size of your group or your budget, the area has the ideal lodging for you.
The festival takes place during one of busiest tourist seasons of the Florida Keys, so make sure to plan in advance. A few additional lodging options close by the park include: Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort, Cocoplum Beach & Tennis Club and Marathon Key Beach Club.
RAL: What does the event mean to the community?
JS: The festival is a hit among the residents and the visitors. The additional people that come into the area for the festival spend money at the local shops, restaurants and attractions.
We also benefit the community by supporting the Pigeon Key Foundation. The Pigeon Key Art Festival is the main fundraiser for the Pigeon Key Foundation, the non-profit organization which supports Pigeon Key.
RAL: Why should people come to your festival?
JS: The Pigeon Key Art Festival is not only a great opportunity to shop quality art from a variety of mediums, it’s a great place to experience all the Middle Keys area has to offer in one place. All the major eco-tourism organizations will be on hand to showcase the importance of our diverse marine ecological system.
For more information about the Pigeon Key Art Festival, please visit their website.