Keys' Ocean Fest Benefits Coral Reefs With Art, Fishing, and Fun

March 2015

From fun runs and fishing to art and auctions, the Key's marine environment will be the focus of festivities at the upcoming Florida Keys Ocean Festival and Waterfront Craft Show.

The free event, presented by the ocean conservation non-profit Mote Marine Laboratory, will take place Saturday, April 4th to celebrate ocean life and raise funds for coral reef restoration and conservation.

People walk past booths at a festival. Mote's Marine Laboratory's Annual Keys Ocean Fest offers entertainment for all ages.

The day's events kick off with a fun run at 8:00 a.m., followed by festivities, educational displays, food and beverages, and live music from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, located at 35 E. Quay Road on Key West’s Truman Waterfront.

The 3rd Annual Tuna Trot 5K "Race for the Reefs," sponsored by Smokin' Tuna Saloon, is open to runners and walkers, who will follow a flat 5K course through Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park and the Truman Annex harbor area. To register, visit or

Marine life artist Wyland will give painting demonstrations and auction works to support Mote's marine conservation. Kids can come paint with the world-renowned artist from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Throughout the day, nautical-themed face painting, rock climbing, bounce house, a bungee game, water wheels, touch tanks, a kid's treasure hunt, and a Passport to the Ocean game will keep kids active. Festival-goers can also explore exhibits inside the Eco-Discovery Center to learn more about the Florida Key's undersea habitats.

Wooden paddleboard. This hand-crafted wooden paddleboard will be raffled off to raise funds for coral reefs. Photo courtesy Mote Marine Laboratory.

Two sessions of "Hook Kids on Fishing," a free fishing clinic, will teach kids ages 5-11 the basics of fishing skills, responsible catch and release practices, knot tying, and safety. Kids must be registered in advance at the festival website, for either the 11:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. session. The first 100 registrants will receive a free rod and reel upon completion of the seminar.

Visitors can find other treasures at vendor's booths, such as local art, clothing, crafts, and jewelry, or bid in a Silent Auction that will run until 5:30 p.m. Afterwards, an exquisite hand-crafted mahogany and fir paddleboard will be raffled off.

The festival is being held to raise awareness about ocean conservation and proceeds will support Mote Marine Laboratory’s coral reef restoration, research and reef protection programs. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary works closely with Mote to protect natural resources in the Florida Keys.

For more information, or a detailed schedule, visit the festival's website at