An Alabamian by way of Miami, Florida named Stan Gober took a chance and purchased an unknown motel, called the Idle Hour Motel in 1969. Subsequently in April 1970, he bought the corresponding coffee shop/restaurant. These properties were located in a sleepy fishing village called Goodland, Florida, discovered by Stan while fishing its backwaters in the 60’s. Stan and his wife, Faye Campbell Gober and their three sons packed up their Miami home and rented a unit at the Idle Hour Motel (since been razed due to Hurricane Wilma) and began working on their investment. Faye and Stan loved music, especially crooners Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Perry Como. Stan began to write his own music, and in the hopes of drumming up more business in the 1980’s, he bought an outdoor grandstand from a local Goodlander and hauled it over to the restaurant. He envisioned an outdoor place where people could dance and gather. Stan was a master entertainer, singing and telling jokes, drawing crowds in the hundreds and eventually in the thousands. Going to Stan’s became a Sunday tradition for many Southwest Floridians. And Stan was a family man, a charitable, compassionate soul with a true love for his country. Lucky for us, his place of business thrives fifty years later.
Many of you will travel across the Stan Gober Memorial Bridge on your trek to Goodland on Sunday, April 14th. That is when Stan’s Idle Hour will be marking their 50th year in business with an Anniversary Celebration like none other, from noon to 7 PM. Be sure to get there in time for one of Stan’s longest-tenured traditions, Sandi Patty’s “Star Spangled Banner,” complete with the Marco Island Fire Department on hand to kick off the event. The Gober Family will be serving cake and champagne to its patrons. Live music by the Ben Allen Band is sure to get your boots stomping.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this fifty-year celebration is the largely touted “Buzzard Queen Championship of Champions” where past Buzzard Queen winners have been invited back to compete for the title “Buzzard Queen Champion”. Beginning at 4:00pm, these past queens in their flamboyant costumes will be flapping their wings up and down, dancing the Buzzard Lope in hopes of being crowned the “Buzzard Queen Champion”. The Crowned Champion receives $500 purse with the runner-up receiving the $250 prize.
Thirty-five years ago, Stan created the “Mullet Festival” which honored Goodland’s rich fishing history as well as served as a send-off party for snow birds. “It was all about fishing in the early days,” said Steve Gober, owner/operator of Stan’s. “The Mullet Festival was a three-day event where on Saturday, fishermen would try to catch the most fish in hopes of being crowned ‘Mullet King’. On Sunday, the ‘Mullet Queen’ contest took place. Contestants strutted onstage, dancing to the “Buzzard Lope Song,” written by my dad. But in 1994, the State of Florida banned the use of gill and other entangling nets within its waters. So, we decided to create the ‘Princess Lope’ contest on Saturdays in lieu of the Mullet King Contest. Interestingly enough, the Princess Lope Contest is now the biggest event during the festival.”
I asked Steve Gober what his thoughts were about Stan’s 50th Anniversary. “I am most thankful for our customers. I’ve had so many people come up to me and thank me for doing this. They tell me that they have been coming here for twenty, thirty years, and now their children are coming with their grandchildren. A lot of people were wondering what would happen to Stan’s after Dad died six years ago. They are so happy to see that the tradition is alive and well. I invite all to come and see how Stan’s has evolved over the past fifty years.”
As you can imagine, you never know who you may meet at Stan’s- that’s the beauty of the place. So many visitors, from bikers to billionaires, flock to Stan’s to get a rum punch and dance to Stan’s “Yankee Dollar.” So, don’t miss Stan’s Semi-Centennial- it promises to be a great time in Goodland! For more information, please visit their website at www.stansidlehour.net.