Cool temperatures in the Florida Keys this past week have set the stage for an upcoming winter festival on Plantation Key at MM 90. 

More than 40 vendors will descend upon Coral Isles Church’s grounds — and one of the largest indoor yard sales returns — for the annual Winter Fest on Saturday. Feb. 4. 

Now in its 12th year, the idea for the family-friendly event came from Susan Ashmore as a fundraiser for the church. There will be food and music, a kid’s zone and vendor tents featuring arts, crafts, apparel and more. 

Members of the congregation spent the past several days sorting through items for the yard sale inside the church sanctuary. It’s one of the big attractions for many who attend Winter Fest. 

“We have people who wait in line to see what’s for sale,” Ashmore said.  

A “buy it now auction” is another unique feature of Winter Fest. Instead of people writing their names down for a silent auction, Ashmore said patrons can scoop up gift cards for a great price. 

“We say, ‘Here’s a $50 gift card; buy it now for $40. People can find some deals on local restaurants, artwork, services and all kinds of stuff.”

Kids attractions include two bounce houses, a water slide and other games. Live music runs all day, and festival fare will include pulled pork, meatballs and burgers. Adult beverages will also be available.

Ashmore said Winter Fest also features a recycled jewelry sale with donations provided by people who no longer wear their necklaces, earrings, bracelets and other accessories. The church will also have a booth with towels, aprons and other products created by a sewing group that meets once a week. 

“It’s a fun day. It’s a lot of work,” Ashmore said about Winter Fest. “Everybody in our church gets involved in some way. It builds camaraderie and we all get to know each other better and see people we know in the community.”

Winter Fest runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission and parking are free. For more information, call 305-852-5813 or visit Coral Isles Church on Facebook.  

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.