Mark your calendars for the Nautical Market!

Don’t miss the Nautical Market on February 24 and 25, presented by the Upper Keys Rotary Club, at Founders Park in Islamorada.   

Bobby Dube, with the Rotary Club, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM yesterday morning to talk about the market. 

He said, “We’ve been down there for over 35 years and it’s still hard for me to utter that phrase without saying the bad word nowadays, the flea market, but most people know it is the Nautical Flea Market, but we’re doing some new branding and just calling it the Nautical Market. It’s a boat show with a beach.”

There will be more than 300 vendors in the market and 18 food trucks. 

Dube said, “We’re going to have everything for everybody there, as I like to say. Dive equipment, yard sale items, nautical stuff, a lot of fishing gear, fishing tackle. The Nautrical Market has something for everybody.”

The Rotary Club has a ton of volunteers to help put the event on. 

Dube said, “It’s the most popular event in the Upper Keys, as our voters put it to paper and made this event the best event in the Upper Keys, which was in the Keys Weekly.”

Gates open at 8 a.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sunday. 

Dube said, “We have a park and ride starting at Coral Shores High School early that morning. We got school buses lined up and it’s free and it gets you back and forth. We’ve got buses continually running throughout the day. It’s a well oiled machine.”

Sponsors really help make the event possible, particularly Keys Deck and Dock Supply and the Pool Spa Billiard Store. 

It’s an incredible fundraiser for Rotary. 

Dube said, “All our funds, the money we raise after all our bills are paid goes straight back to Monroe County students for scholarships for college. It’s pretty simple. If you’ve been down here long enough, and you’ve ever had a child that went to school and you went to the award ceremony, the Rotary Club gives out a lot of money for scholarships, here in Monroe County.”

It take a lot to plan an event like this. 

Dube said, “It is a year long event. We have what we call a hot wash after each event and we sit down and ask, what’s working, what’s not working? Do we need to change the entrances? What is the flow of the park? Sometimes some of our vendors are concerned I’m not getting enough traffic. So we take all that into consideration and we’re constantly constantly tweaking the event every year, whether it’s where the people get dropped off by the buses, just trying to make the event gratifying to everybody who attends. That’s what we’re striving for. Everyone that usually leaves there is walking with a smile on their face and a bag full of goods, so we get a lot of good reports.”

Crowds come from all over the country and to the tune of tens of thousands of people. 

Dube said, “I personally have friends that come from Long Island and come down and make it their week’s vacation to attend the Nautical Market. I was up at the rodeo this past Sunday and we were sitting next to some people that tried to take in the rodeo and the Nautical Market and they were from Virginia. I’m glad to see all these people come from near and far to attend the Nautical Market.”

It’s a $5 donation to enter the Nautical Market. 

Dube said, “You cannot beat that.” 

If you would like to be a vendor, there are still opportunities. 

Dube said, “That’s up on our website. There’s a few spots available, and they can squeeze you in somewhere. Our people are doing a tremendous job trying to make everybody happy and it goes by seniority. Some of our vendors have been with us for over 30 years, so we give them the prime spots or they get to pick and choose where they want to be every year. Some of them have been in the same place for 20 plus years and people show up at the market and they’re like, oh, I want this this vendor and they go there and the guy’s there again that same year, so that’s what we’re trying to strive for.”

Sponsorship opportunities are still available and volunteers are needed. 

Dube said, “We need volunteers. That you can find on our website also. We have a lot of the high school students and interact clubs helping us, like I said it takes a village. We need help doing everything whether it’s taking some cash at the gate, or just helping other vendors.” 

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