Every year visitors join Florida Keys residents for the Conch Republic Independence Celebration, a lively extravaganza whose 32nd annual incarnation takes place April 18-27.
The quirky event honors the birth of the republic, a pivotal moment in the history of the Keys.
The unique republic was founded in April 1982 in response to the installation of a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint that stopped traffic at the top of the Florida Keys Overseas Highway — the only road in and out of the Keys.
Local leaders decided that, if the federal government insisted on treating the Keys like a foreign nation, the island chain would become one.
They staged a ceremony seceding from the United States, raised the flag of the independent Conch Republic, declared "war" on the mother country and carried it out by pelting federal agents with stale Cuban bread.
Following the 60-second battle, they surrendered and demanded $1 billion in foreign aid — which still hasn't arrived.
For details about the 2014 celebration and its irreverent events, click here.
Watch ABC's Good Morning America's spotlight on the
Florida Keys scheduled for Friday, March 7, when
meteorologist Ginger Zee broadcasts live from Key West.
Middle Keys' Largest Seafood Festival Returns March 8-9
Seafood lovers can savor a "fisherman-to-fork" feast of indigenous fish, shrimp, lobster and stone crab claws March 8-9 at Marathon's sumptuous signature foodie fair, the Original Marathon Seafood Festival. Click here
for a taste of the weekend's offerings.
Woofstock Music Fair Blends Paws and Performances
The Woofstock Music Fair, a day of peace, paws and music set for March 22, awaits dog lovers eager to unite to raise pet population awareness and adopt rescues to "fur-ever" homes. To "unleash" the details, click here.
Florida Keys Ocean Festival to Spotlight Marine World
The southernmost island chain's vibrant marine environment is to take center stage March 29 with live music, artistry, kids' activities, educational exhibits and more during the fifth annual Florida Keys Ocean Festival & Waterfront Craft Show. Explore the environmental action here.
Island Fest to Mark Spring in Islamorada April 5-6
Upper Keys visitors can enjoy live concerts, local food, arts and crafts and even the delicious "Taste of Islamorada" at the 23rd annual Florida Keys Island Fest, set for April 5-6 at Founders Park. Click here
for the fun-filled facts.
For more than 30 years, internationally renowned playwright Tennessee Williams lived in a cottage on a quiet Key West street. Williams' connection to the island city is being celebrated in March with events highlighted by a March 26 "birthday party." Join the festivities here.
Marathon's Keys Huka Dive offers an underwater alternative to standard scuba diving that enables beginners to enjoy shallow Florida Keys reefs in a safe, fun way. Dive into the details here.
Fifteen target species and $5,000 in cash prizes are key figures in the Key West Fishing Tournament's Kickoff 2014, presented by Dream Catcher Charters and scheduled April 4-6. "Fish" for the specifics here.
"PROFILES IN PARADISE"
A lively personality, matched with a hardworking attitude and passion for her island community, makes Kara Lundgren one of the Florida Keys' top hospitality leaders. Click here to "meet" Islamorada's enthusiastic ambassador.
Discover an historically significant attraction, event, person or place in the Florida Keys.
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From an insider's perspective, this blog uncovers the hidden Keys.
32nd Annual Judged Florida Keys Watercolor Society Art Show
Original colorful, luminous watercolors by local artists are on display at this month-long show. Viewers can vote for their favorite after exploring the collection. The show is located in the main gallery of the Marathon Community Theater (MM 49.5) during the production of "9 to 5." Viewings are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. or before the curtain and during intermissions on performance days (also Thursday through Saturday). Click here.
in Key West
Key West House Tours
Tour a series of elegant and unique private homes in Key West, ranging from exquisite restorations to creative renovations, and discover the interior design that complements each. March tours are offered 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day and proceeds help benefit the Old Island Restoration Foundation. Click here.
Pops in the Park: Viva Florida! Free Outdoor Concert
Enjoy music composed and performed by Floridians to celebrate the state's heritage during this free concert at the ICE Amphitheater at Islamorada's Founders Park, MM 87 bayside on Plantation Key. The performance starts at 4 p.m. and is a friendly, open-air, blanket-on-the-lawn experience. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Click here.
in Key Largo
Florida Keys Art Guild's Weekend Art Show
Featuring local artisans who display original artwork, the show is presented by the photographers, craftspeople and artists of the Florida Keys Art Guild. For more than 15 years, the guild has followed the mantra of "Bringing Art & the Fabulous Florida Keys Together." The free-admission outdoor show takes place at the Waldorf Shopping Plaza, MM 99.6.
in Big Pine & the Lower Keys
March Merkin Permit Tournament
This charity flats and fly-only tournament offers a twist: in addition to catch and release, anglers earn extra points for tagging their caught fish. The tournament is held at the Key West Harbour Yacht Club on Stock Island. Click here.
in Key Largo
Ocean Life Lecture Series: Last Train to Paradise
Presented by the Friends of the Key Largo Cultural Center, author Les Standiford, Ph.D., is to discuss Henry Flagler's Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad, the subject of his fast-paced book, "Last Train to Paradise." Free and open to the public, the lecture runs from 6-8 p.m. at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center, 102050 Overseas Highway (MM 102). Click here.
Taste of the Islands
Gourmets and foodies can enjoy "tastes" from participating local restaurants vying for best-of honors for appetizer, dessert or entree. Tasters can buy 10 tickets for $20. From noon until 4 p.m. at the Key Colony Beach City Park grounds, admission is free and additional highlights include music, vendors, a fashion show and live and silent auctions. The fun is presented by the Marathon chapter of Business and Professional Women. For tickets, call 305-393-9501 or 305-731-6368.
Third Thursday Art Walk
A free monthly showcase of fine art, live music and culinary nuances spotlights several art galleries and eateries between mile markers (MM) 81 and 82. The creative festivities are presented each month by the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District. Click here.
in Key West
Key West Paddleboard Classic
During this ocean paddleboard race and associated weekend of events, participants enjoy a challenging 12-mile course over crystal blue waters, circling Key West through scenic mangroves, passing by the Historic Seaport district and more. The race around Key West is open to paddlers on standup paddleboards, prone boards, outrigger canoes, dory boats, surf skis and kayaks. Other weekend beach and paddling activities are planned. Click here.
in Big Pine & the Lower Keys
Original Big Pine & Lower Keys Dolphin Tournament
Anglers can vie for more than $35,000 in cash prizes and awards in the fun-loving 21st annual tournament, including $20,000 in cash for the largest dolphin weighing over 50 pounds. The tournament is presented by the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce. The entry fee is $150 per adult angler and $50 per youth angler. Click here.