Welcome to my backyard--the Florida Keys! I'm a travel writer, blogger and photographer with a passion for all things Florida, especially the Florida Keys. These islands are so much more than Duval Street and Jimmy Buffet. They are rich in history, culture, cuisine, nature and events--all surrounded by pristine waters teeming with wildlife. Whether you're a local or a visitor, the Conch Republic has many surprises in store. Let me be your guide.
The Florida Keys' most original and wacky festival, Conch Republic Daysin Key West, is sure to be a doozy this year. It marks 30 years since their tongue-in-cheek secession from the United States. This birthday party, slated for April 20-29, celebrates the “rebellion,” which was to protest a U.S. Border Patrol blockade on U.S. Highway 1 at the top of the Keys. Once they surrendered, the newly formed Conch Republic promptly sued for war reparations. Catch a re-enactment of the secession on Monday, April 23 beside Mallory Square, followed by a party in the Historic Sculpture Garden. Come hungry because a seven-foot Key lime pie is on the menu.
The Great Conch Republic Drag Race down Duval Street is a must-see on Saturday, April 21, and it doesn't involve cars! The island’s cadre of female impersonators, sprint down the course decked out in high heels and big hair, egged on by the cheers of spectators. On Friday, April 27, the waters of the Key West Bight will churn at the Conch Republic Naval Parade and Great Battle. Watch from the harbor-front resorts and restaurants as sea dogs, wenches and the Conch Republic military launch an attack on the “evil” federal forces from tall ships and other vessels. Weapons range from water cannons to flying vegetables. The following day, Saturday, April 28, line back up on Duval Street to watch teams race wildly decorated beds at the Conch Republic Red Ribbon Bed Race. Other highlights include a music festival at Green Parrot, wrecker’s race, pet stroll, fiddler’s contest and the world’s “longest parade.” With a motto like, “We Seceded Where Others Failed,” how can you go wrong?