Mel Fisher, the man remembered as the world’s greatest treasure hunter, and the thrill of treasure discovery will be celebrated on Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16 with the annual Mel Fisher Days celebration to benefit Wesley House Family Services. This year, Key West Art & Historical Society joins the Mel Fisher’s Treasures team in presenting day two of the festival, with a historic shipwreck lecture followed by a ‘Party Like a Local’ block party at the Custom House Museum.
Saturday, at 5 p.m., treasure hunters and aficionados will delight in “Lost Galleon Treasures” a presentation on 1622 Fleet shipwrecks by historic shipwreck professional Carol Tedesco that will cover where the galleons Atocha and Santa Margarita were coming from, where they were going, and why they were carrying so much treasure, along with an “everything you wanted to know” elucidation on the legendary “pieces of eight” treasure coins. Those who own Spanish Colonial coins who wish to know more about them are welcome to bring them to the lecture, which will take place in the Helmerich Learning Center on the third floor of the Custom House Museum.
The ‘Party Like a Local’ block party kicks off at 6 p.m. on Saturday, with rock n’ roll, reggae, and hip-hop music dished up by the Con Leche Band, featuring Miguel Perez with Tony Baltimore, Lee Venters and Will Kinsey; a spectacular silent auction spread out on the Custom House veranda and the first-ever “Mel Fisher Days T-Shirt Lottery,” where a lucky winner will take home a true “motherlode”— a treasure chest filled with $2,500 in silver dollars. Food and libations presented by popular Keys vendors will be available until 10 p.m.
The celebration itself kicks off on Friday with Mel Fisher’s Treasures conservation lab tours, tours on board a 90’ MFT search-and-recovery vessel, and a party at Schooner Wharf Bar, which will feature a ‘cupcake contest’ and chance to win an authentic treasure coin recovered from the 1622 Fleet Atocha shipwreck, a 50/50 raffle, live auction, live music, book signings and presentation of the Mel Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award.
Entire festival proceeds benefit Wesley House Family Services, a not-for-profit organization whose programs provide crucial support to child welfare and family preservation throughout the Florida Keys.
Advance registration for Friday’s lab tours is recommended; maximum eight guests per tour. $12 advance tickets at MelFisherDays.com; $15 at the door if any spaces are still available. Advance registration for Saturday’s “Lost Galleon Treasures” presentation is also recommended. $5 advance tickets at kwahs.org; $10 at the door. For a full festival schedule visit MelFisherDays.com, for more information on Tedesco’s treasure talk, visit KWAHS.ORG/Learn.