KEY WEST, Florida Keys — The late shipwreck salvor Mel Fisher is to be honored Thursday through Sunday, July 14-17, with a festival that also commemorates the 26th anniversary of his discovery of the sunken Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha.
Fisher and his crew uncovered a $450 million cache of Atocha treasure and artifacts July 20, 1985, after a 16-year search. The galleon sank in 1622 approximately 35 miles southwest of Key West.
Fisher’s son Kim Fisher and grandson Sean Fisher, who direct the ongoing search for still-missing Atocha artifacts and treasures, spearhead the festival each year.
Scheduled events begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 14, at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St. in Key West’s Historic Seaport. On tap are games recalling Mel Fisher’s exuberant lifestyle, a treasure-themed bikini contest and authentic treasure prizes.
From 3-9 p.m. Friday, a street carnival celebrating Fisher is to take place in the 200 block of Key West’s Duval Street with live concert entertainment, a silent auction, rollicking games and more.
Saturday, July 16, a Midnight Gambler Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament salutes Fisher’s adventurous spirit. The fun is set for 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. aboard Sunset Watersports’ Party Cat catamaran.
Sunday’s schedule features the 1 p.m. presentation of the Mel Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award to Professor David Bederman of Emory Law School. Bederman has been instrumental in the decades-long legal struggle for salvors’ rights to explore and recover mankind’s maritime heritage from the sea. The presentation takes place in the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum’s courtyard, 200 Greene St.
The festival’s highlight is a 2 p.m. reunion of the “golden crew” that searched for the Atocha with Fisher. The reunion is scheduled at The Bull, located at the corner of Duval and Caroline streets in Key West’s historic downtown.
Event information: www.melfisher.com or 305-296-6534
Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY