a little girl sitting in a stroller holding a toy
Young Upper Keys Irish Fest attendee Emi Camacho enjoys some treats. SAMANTHA DELLILO/Keys Weekly

There is one sentence I should not have heard from anyone in the Upper Keys this past week. That sentence is “I’m bored.” 

I could not keep up with all the events and happenings we had going on, but I sure tried. On  March 14, I attended the “Cocktails & Conductors: Honoring Henry Flagler’s Legacy” held at the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center in Islamorada. Everyone was dressed with glitz and glamor as we sipped cocktails from Islamorada Brewery & Distillery. Richard Russell, or coach Russell as we call him, discussed some historic classic Keys stories. 

Delicious hors d’oeuvres like bacon-wrapped scallops and mini beef wellington were passed around to counteract all the tasty hibiscus gin libations. Henry Flagler’s great-grandson, George Matthews, attended and was extremely pleased with the turnout. 

March 16 was a big one with the annual Upper Keys Irish festival at the Caribbean Club. I had never seen attendance this high in all my years at this festival. I’m not sure if it was my previous article about Darren Pais’ amazing burger or the timing with spring break. It was a scorcher with temperatures hitting almost 90 degrees. But all of us festively dressed up and endured the sweat and had a blast. 

Upper Keys Irish Fest festivities at the Caribbean Club on March 16. SAMANTHA DELLILO/Keys Weekly

This fundraiser was put together to benefit TIPS, or Teen Intervention Prevention Services, and their work with Key Largo School athletic teams. TIPS encompasses the youth basketball league and gives scholarships to kids for summer and athletic camps. Any Upper Keys teens who apply for the scholarship are eligible. We celebrated St. Paddy’s for a great cause, and judging by the crowd size, I hope they brought home “the green” to an amazing program. Email tips4youth@gmail.com for an application or any inquiries for scholarships. 

I gathered my strength and got some rest for many more events on March 17. I started the morning with the new, popular Cars and Coffee at American Caribbean Real Estate parking lot. They meet monthly and have gorgeous and unique cars on display. Our favorite Sandbar Donuts was there with some Irish-themed treats, as well as La Cafetera mobile coffee truck, which you can’t miss since it’s shaped like a huge cafetera, or as some would call it, a moka pot. 

If you’re interested in joining Cars and Coffee, reach out to info@KeyLargoCarsandCoffee.com; it costs $25 and they donate the proceeds to a new charity chosen each month. 

An Irish donut from Sandbar Donuts and coffee from La Cafetera at Cars & Coffee at American Caribbean Real Estate in Key Largo. SAMANTHA DELLILO/Keys Weekly

Next up was the also newly organized Key Largo Locals Market held at the Civic Center parking lot. The minute I heard Mallory’s Bakery would be there, I knew I had to swing by to stock up on some treats. Key Largo is in desperate need of something fun and consistent like a local’s market, so I’m excited to see this event take off and become a staple. To inquire about becoming a vendor at the Key Largo Locals Market feel to text or call Cathy Hardison at 305-522-3978. Hardison is the founder of this event and sells some gorgeous flowers and plants at her booth, so check her out.

Next up was my stop at Florida Keys Brewing Co. They had the 5k & 10k that morning which I missed but heard great things. They also had live traditional Irish music, green sangria slushies, and The Moveable Feast cooked up corned beef and cabbage, shepherds pie and Guinness brats. 

As 4 p.m. neared, I headed to San Pedro Catholic Church where they had a St. Patrick’s Day extravaganza. It was a $25 admission and had Irish coffee, green beer, music, games, raffles, desserts and all the Irish fixin’s. My last stop for the night was Dillon’s Pub & Grill, or as I like to call it, Ol’ Faithful. I didn’t stay long but I knew it wasn’t St. Paddy’s if I didn’t have at least one Irish slammer there – or as I heard someone call it, the Dublin Drop. You may be more used to the drink by its more controversial original name, the Irish car bomb. 

Well, I survived the weekend and had a blast doing so but the fun isn’t over. I’ve been picked to judge the famous fish dip competition and “The Taste Of Islamorada” this weekend at Island Fest. The event is held at Founders Park in Islamorada on Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I am beyond honored and excited to be chosen as a judge. If you see me, don’t hesitate to come say “hello!”

Samantha Dellilo
Samantha Dellilo has been in the Keys since she was 1 day old, so definitely consider her a Conch. Holding a passion for food since she can remember, while most kids were watching Barney, she was watching Emeril. "Being half Cuban and half Italian, food in those cultures is considered a love language. It's a total experience whether eating out or cooking." She's been with her other half, Marky, going on 17 years. The two met when they were 9 years old at Key Largo School. Samantha owns Florida Keys Eats, which is a blog of "must eat, must see, and must dos" from Key Largo to Key West.