Goodland’s BIG weekend: Mullet Fest, arts fair and more

Lance Shearer

The little town of Goodland has some big doings coming. The community occupies a corner of Marco Island, but was left outside the city limits when Marco incorporated, much to the relief of Goodland.

More:3 To Do: Key Marco Cat returns, more

More:WOW To Do List: John Boehner ‘Unfiltered and Uncensored,’ more

The weekend of Jan. 25 through 27 will see not one, not two, but three public events to draw outsiders in to what their own bumper stickers call a “drinking village with a fishing problem.” The big kahuna, of course, is the Mullet Festival, held every year at Stan’s Idle Hour Restaurant. Hundreds are expected to throng Stan’s for the crowning of the Buzzard Queen on Sunday, plus the Princess contest on Saturday, and a weekend’s worth of fun, drinking and music.

The stage at Stan's Idle Hour Restaurant awaits the Buzzard Lope dance contestants during the annual Mullet Festival. The tiny fishing village of Goodland will host three public events the weekend of Jan. 25 through 27.

“This is the best entertainment lineup we’ve ever had,” said proprietor Steve Gober, son of legendary founder Stan. “We have the Shane Duncan Band Friday evening, Neon Summer on Saturday afternoon, and everybody’s favorite, the Ben Allen Band, playing Sunday afternoon.”

This will be the 35th Annual Mullet Festival, he noted, “seven years since my dad passed away, and the first one without Queen Mary.” Mary Martin, a local celebrity and fixture at Stan’s, died last May.

Not coincidentally, the other two events are being held on Mullet Festival Sunday. First up is the Goodland Civic Association’s Pancake Breakfast, where for five dollars – three for kids – you get “all you can eat” pancakes, with sausage, coffee and orange juice, at the Goodland Community Center at 417 E. Mango Drive. Breakfast runs from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Inside the Island Woman, Amanda Baldwin points out where the Buzzard Lope contestants dance during the annual Mullet Festival. The tiny fishing village of Goodland will host three public events the weekend of Jan. 25 through 27.

You can head right over from pancakes at the Community Center to the 6th Annual Arts & Crafts Fair, sponsored by the Goodland Arts Alliance. This runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Margood Harbor Park, one block over on Pear Tree Avenue. Anyone from Goodland – they are the ones on bicycles or driving golf carts – can steer you from event to event, and a courtesy shuttle will be operating on Sunday to help get people where they need to go.

Not to be outdone by the Mullet Festival, the Arts & Crafts Fair boasts a lineup of nine musical acts, playing on the stage outside Chuckles Bar – no, there’s no alcohol served in the county park – for art lovers who take a break from wandering through the booths of the 30-plus exhibitors who will be showing and selling their wares.

“Rob Brehm – he’s the ‘Big Easy’ of Billy J & the Big Easy – put the musicians together, and did an awesome job,” said Arts Alliance president Tara O’Neill. “We’ll have JRobert, Raiford Starke, Merrill Allen, Jim Allen, Ben Olson, Mike MacManus, Charlie Logsdon, and the Island Knights,” along with Brehm’s duo.

The stone crabbing fleet is seen from the docks at Stan's. The tiny fishing village of Goodland will host three public events the weekend of Jan. 25 through 27, including the annual Mullet Festival.

“There’s something for everyone, in all price ranges, from fine arts to home goods and everything in between,” said O’Neill, a painter who also displays her works, particularly lower-cost prints, cards and giclees, at the Marco Farmers’s Market each Wednesday.

According to Goodland Civic Association president Chip Willets, Goodland has a population of 420 – kind of the perfect number for the community – and most of them will likely be on hand for one or all of the events, manning booths, running the shuttles, or selling parking places to outsiders.

As Steve Gober says, “Stan’s – and Goodland – is more than just Sunday,” and you can beat the crowds by showing up for the cute-as-a-button Buzzard Lope princess contest Saturday afternoon.

For more information about the GAA:, or contact Tara O’Neill at 239-642-0528.