28th Annual Goodland Mullet Festival, January 27 – 29

From the top of the State Road 92 bridge over Goodland Bay at the western edge of the Ten Thousand Islands, you get a brief glimpse at Marco Island’s high-rise beach condos on the horizon, five miles away. But turn left immediately after the bridge and you’ll find a completely different ambience in the tiny fishing community of Goodland (population 320). A few homesteaders settled here at “Goodland Point” back in the late 1800’s, but more people started coming eighty years ago after the first Goodland bridge—an old wooden swing bridge, was built in 1935. In contrast to the beach side of Marco Island, Goodland hasn’t grown much since then, and that’s the way folks here like it. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in personality.

Today, as then, fishing is the main draw, and to keep those visitors (and the few locals) watered and fed, there are three bar-and-grills, all with good local fresh seafood: The first one you come to is Stan’s Idle Hour Bar and Restaurant. Owner Stan Gober is Goodland’s Renaissance man—restaurateur, singer/song-writer, stand-up comic, and festival promoter. Stan’s Idle Hour has been hosting Goodland’s Annual Mullet festival (always the weekend prior to Super Bowl) since the 1980’s, which culminates in the crowning of that year’s “Buzzard Lope Queen”—named for a Stan Gober song and the local’s favorite dance.

(Excerpt from Visiting Small-Town Florida, Third Edition by Bruce Hunt)

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