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From Ghosts to Giant Pies: Key West’s Free Spirit Gears Up for 2014 Key Lime Festival

by | Jun 25, 2014 | Press Releases

Visitors to Key West are invited to experience the authentic flavour of the Florida Keys at the 2014 Key Lime Festival, scheduled to take place from 3-5 July.  Reborn last year following a hiatus of more than 50 years, the festival celebrates the unique Key lime which features in soups, cocktails and, most notably, the famous Key lime pie dessert.
Featuring the creation of the world’s largest Key lime pie, a Key Lime Cocktail ‘Sip & Stroll’ where 20 local bars compete to produce the best martinis and margaritas, and a Key lime pie-eating contest among other activities, the Key Lime Festival is based on an event which took place regularly during the 1950s in Key Largo.  The man behind its rebirth in Key West is author, publisher, chef, ghost tour guide and free spirit David Sloan.
“I just thought to myself, Key limes are such an important part of our culture, wouldn’t it be great to bring the festival back?” Sloan explained.
Working with fellow creative spirit Marky Pierson, Sloan staged Key West’s inaugural Key Lime Festival in the summer of 2013.  Its highlight was the creation of a giant Key lime pie, measuring eight feet in diameter, using a specially-made pan the size of a pickup truck. The 2013 pie was documented for submission to the “Guinness Book of World Records,” but Sloan and his Key lime cohorts are not stopping there. This year they plan to break their own record with a pie measuring nine feet in diameter.
Sloan first visited Key West as a college student in 1988 and loved its laid-back vibe and especially its bars.  But it was not until 1996, following a successful spell as general manager for a cruise line, that he made the island city his home.  Inspired by a ghost tour experience in Scotland, he hit upon the idea of starting a similar tour of his own, and a friend suggested that Key West would be the perfect place.
“Did I choose Key West?  Actually it feels like Key West chose me!” he laughed.
Quitting his job, Sloan moved to the Florida Keys and spent months researching before launching Ghost Tours of Key West  –  one of the first tours of its kind in the US.  He also released his first book, “Ghosts of Key West.” The tours and supernatural culture quickly found popularity with both locals and visitors. In addition, Sloan and friend Christopher Schultz established a publishing company whose successes include their collaborative effort, “Quit Your Job and Move to Key West,” and Sloan’s own “The Key Lime Pie Cookbook.”
He recently unveiled a new take on ghost tours that gives participants the chance to use devices to detect the supernatural at various haunted stops around Key West. Gearing up for his second Key Lime Festival, today Sloan said he feels more at home in Key West than ever.
“For me, there is nowhere better.  There is so much happening on what is actually a pretty small island. People should come just to watch the sunsets  –  Mallory Square is the famous spot for that, but there are other great places too,” he said.
When not organising the festival or chasing down ghosts, Sloan spends as much time as possible exploring the Florida Keys.
“Every 15-20 miles you find a completely different place with its own identity,” he explained.  “I love Windley Key near Islamorada. I like to hang out in the sun with my dog at Blimp Road.  That’s the way to really see the Keys  –  just start in one place, choose your own adventure and see what the day brings.”
For further information, visit the Key Lime Festival website: www.keylimefestival.com
For more information on the Florida Keys & Key West, visit www.fla-keys.co.uk