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Vintage Cars, Sand Castles and Snow in the Islands!

Islamorada, “The Village of Islands,” has evolved from a little town in the Florida Keys to a popular vacation destination for families, couples, and travelers of all ages from all over the world. This town has many features, activities and attractions that draw visitors to it, including the perfect weather, sportsfishing, and beautiful resorts. Another draw is the Islamorada Island Fest, an annual celebration of music, food and fun in mid-April. This year will mark the 23rd installment of the Festival and as Judy Hull, Executive Director of the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce explains, the festival has grown into something that represents the island, its culture, and the beauty of Islamorada.

RAL: Tell me a little bit about this event
JH: Well, the Island Fest is in its 23rd year this year, so it has been around for a while! It started out as the Taste of Islamorada and has grown into this huge event.

We have music, art, antique cars and fun for people of all ages. The Taste of Islamorada is still a large part of the festival and will take place on Sunday. Here, all of the restaurants in the village compete for the title of best appetizer, best entree, best soup and best dessert. As one of the most popular events of the weekend, you will find the bulk of the roughly 10,000 attendees, coming that day. But as I said, this festival has grown to be more than just the taste.

We also have a juried art festival, The Plantation Yacht Harbor Arts and Craft Show, showcasing between 80 and 100 artists and crafters who come in just for this event. We will once again have the All-American Road Vintage Cruisers Car show, an antique car show that is very popular. Many of the events will take part right on the beach in Founders Park including a hula hooping contest, a stage with live music and entertainment, giant kite flying, sandcastle building lessons, and a competition for our non-profit organizations to construct the word ‘OCEAN’ with sand for aerial photos!

Lastly, I have to mention that we fly in an artist and 40 tons of sand to create a seven-foot sandcastle for everyone to view throughout the festival. This family event is for people of all ages and is really, very cool!

RAL: This event sounds like so much fun! It must mean quite a bit to the community of Islamorada.
JH: It truly does. Our residents love this event and look forward to it each year. It’s great for the community to come together for a fun, family-friendly event. Also, lodging hits maximum occupancy during the festival from the vendors and visitors, so that revenue really helps the local shops, restaurants, hotels and resorts. Lastly, this festival helps the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce offset expenses to stay open. We hold two events each year, this one and one at Christmas time where we bring in 20 tons of snow instead of sand! These events help us stay open and gives the community something fun to look forward to.

RAL: Wow, snow in Florida? How long does that last?
JH: Well, it’s kind of funny, we do it as a one day event and the snow lasts throughout the whole day. The next morning we have to come out with a clean up crew and shovel the snow off of the grass. It’s really fun to be out there in our shorts and t-shirts shoveling snow! It does take about 3 or 4 days for it to fully melt away though.

“Our residents love this event and look forward to it each year. It’s great for the community to come together for a fun, family-friendly event.”

RAL: Going back to Island Fest, do many people travel to Islamorada for the event?
JH: The vendors for the arts and craft show fly in from all over just for the festival, and we do get many visitors from all throughout Florida. With the event being held in April we also have groups of people who are here visiting or staying in their second homes. We are a popular destination for tourists during the cold, winter months, so as I mentioned earlier, our lodging does hit maximum occupancy for the festival. If you do plan on visiting us for Island Fest, or anytime for that matter, our town has many great places for you to stay. Just be sure to start making plans ahead of time!

If you would like to learn more about the Islamorada Island Fest, visit the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce’s website.