Headquarters of the Florida Keys commercial shrimping industry, Stock Island is known for its colorful working marinas, art studios and galleries, waterfront bars and eclectic eateries. The family-friendly festival is to blend culinary events, art studio tours, a lighted boat parade and other experiences that showcase the island and its rustic charm.
Scheduled highlights include Friday’s “Taste of Stock Island,” a guided exploration of local cuisine beginning at 4 p.m. Traveling via trolley, guests are to stop at seven select Stock Island restaurants and hotspots to savor small plates and beverage pairings at each location. Chefs and owners are to be on hand to welcome participants.
Friday also features waterfront festivities as vessels from dinghies and schooners to local shrimpboats, all adorned with holiday lights and decorations, parade through community marinas starting at 7 p.m. An after party is scheduled at the landmark Hogfish Bar and Grill, 6810 Front St.
Saturday brings “Discover Stock Island,” a daylong family-friendly event at Stock Island Marina Village, 7005 Shrimp Road. Attractions include live music, food trucks, vendors’ wares, activities for kids and free tours of the island’s neighborhoods and businesses. Attendees can even taste samples of roast pork and vote for their favorite in the Cuban Pig Roast: Chinabox Challenge II.
Festivalgoers also can enjoy a stroll through the Stock Island Arts District, showcasing the working studios, one-of-a-kind shops and talented members of the area’s colorful creative community. In addition, those eager to discover Stock Island’s natural world can take mini tours of the mangroves by kayak or sail aboard the historic schooner When and If.
Sunday’s schedule features a traditional shrimp boil at the Hogfish Bar and Grill, a brunch and pool party and behind-the-scenes studio tours of the Stock Island Arts District.
The festival’s culinary highlight is to be a Sunday spotlight dinner at the Lost Kitchen Supper Club, 6810 Front St., with signature cuisine prepared by Chef Norman Van Aken. The renowned chef, restaurateur and author has earned scores of elite professional honors and is known as the founding father of New World cuisine.
I Love Stock Island’s other enticements include food truck finds, a 5k walk/run, parties and even a poolside “dive-in” movie experience.
Event information, prices and ticketing: ILoveStockIsland.org
Lower Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 1-800-872-3722
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