Fest offers a bit of Florida in Suffolk

Published 10:48 pm Saturday, August 1, 2009

Forget packing, expensive airfares and taking time off work.

If you want to experience a tropical getaway, all you need to do is head to the village of Driver next weekend.

The second annual Key West Fest, sponsored by Rio Grande Traders, will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will feature live music, a collection of classic cars and motorcycles on display, as well as free food and drinks.

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“Our store has more or less a Mexican and Key West feel,” said Ronnie Gould, owner of the Rio Grande Traders. “When we did it last year, it was just a way to get business in the store. It worked really well. By the end of the day, people came up and said, ‘have another one, have another one.’ So we’re having another one.”

Last year, the Key West Fest was originally scheduled for the first week of May, but the weather had other plans.

Just a week before the event was supposed to debut, the tornado tore through the city of Suffolk and devastated the small village.

Even while clearing through the damage, organizers knew that Key West Fest would have to go on. The festival served as one of the first post-tornado events aimed at reminding shoppers that Driver’s businesses were still open.

“It worked,” Gould said. “We’re not sure it worked because people came here to see what damage the tornado did or because they wanted to come, but people did have a good time.”

There will be an exhibit of birds and parrots from the Peninsula Caged Bird Society, a children’s pirates exhibit and a pet and human tricks competition, with chances for participants to win prizes for their more unusual talents.

Additionally, there will be a Pirate Poker Run for shoppers to enjoy. Every time they go to a shop in Driver, they will be given a playing card. The shopper with the best poker hand at the end of the day will walk away with a cash prize.

“It’s going to be a family event,” Gould said. “It’s going to be more or less a neighborhood thing. It’s almost like an open house for Driver. It’s a good fun time that hopefully people will enjoy.”

For more information about Key West Fest, call Rio Grande Traders at 538-3512 or visit www.DriverEvents.com.