Indian Key Celebration 2022

The Florida Keys History and Discovery Center recently hosted the return of the Indian Key Celebration on Saturday, April 30, 2022, on the grounds of the Islander Resort in Islamorada, Florida. The free event drew almost 1,500 visitors who enjoyed both indoor and outdoor activities that included educational and retail booths and a special hand-carving display of a canoe by Daniel Tommie, an Elder from the Seminole Tribe.

In 1971, the State of Florida purchased Indian Key and designated it a State Historic Site. The venue has changed this year as Indian Key’s dock needs repair, and proceeds were shared between the Keys History & Discovery Foundation and the Friends of Islamorada Area State Parks.

This long-held tradition began in 1974 through the dedication and efforts of Irving R. Eyster, former Dade County Archeologist and founder of the Upper Keys Historical Society, and President of the Matecumbe Historical Trust until his passing. The Discovery Center is partnered this year with the Friends of Islamorada Area State Parks to bring Indian Key’s history to life.

Indian Key was designated the Dade County seat in 1836 and the small island had more than 20 homes, a hotel, bowling alley, billiard hall, and general store. The island once boasted the largest population between Jacksonville and Key West. Naturalist John James Audubon sketched birds here and Dr. Henry Perrine, a botanist, attempted to demonstrate the area’s adaptability for growing plants that would be of economic benefit to the United States.

Indian Key was designated the Dade County seat in 1836 and the small island had more than 20 homes, a hotel, bowling alley, billiard hall, and general store. The island once boasted the largest population between Jacksonville and Key West. Naturalist John James Audubon sketched birds here and Dr. Henry Perrine, a botanist, attempted to demonstrate the area’s adaptability for growing plants that would be of economic benefit to the United States.

photo of Indian Key Island
View of indian Key during a past Indian Key Festival. Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau.

Activities included entertainment for families and people of all ages with food trucks, reenactors, nonprofit education, and arts and crafts booths, and live music by Mangrove Swamp Band.

Sea Base provided narrated water tours around Indian Key as they trained for their 0ver 2,000 boy scouts from around the world that they will be offering tours for in just a few weeks. In the upstairs museum rotating gallery, a special Indian Key “History Harvest” exhibit of historical photographs and personal stories, mini bowling area, and dress-up clothes for young children are awaiting your return to the museum in which you can still share your memories as well. 

SHARE YOUR PERSONAL STORIES!
We are requesting stories about your special moments and photographic images to help tell the story of Indian Key to be included in the special exhibit, “History Harvest,” located in our upstairs gallery that continues on display. For more information and to submit your story, poem, images, etc., contact Megan Scallan, email: curator@keysdiscovery.com. If questions, call 305-922-2237.

We would like to thank our sponsors, the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, Holly Merrill Rashein, Bob Lodge, Phyllis Mitchell, the Islander Resort, First State Bank, and of course, our dedicated volunteer committee, and a community that cares. The event benefited the Friends of Islamorada State Parks and the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center.

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