This year, Key West celebrates 37 years of Fantasy Fest with even more fantastical fun shared as usual by more than 70,000 costumed partygoers from all over the world. This year's theme is, "Political Voodoo & Ballot Box Barbarians." The Conch Republic was firmly established in 1982, but Fantasy Fest goes all the way back to 1979. Since its inception, Fantasy Fest has dazzled us with images of Hollywood, Broadway and TV...transported us through time and back again... fabricated artful visions of both beasts and beauties...explained myths and mysteries while providing a stage for unrealized dreams and fantasies of the tropical kind!
From the very beginning, Fantasy Fest was a hit and a great excuse for Key West's craziest characters to dress up and act just a little more...well, CRAZY, even weird by some accounts...but that's your call (political correctness hard at work)! But what was clear from the onset...if you throw a party big enough...THEY (the tourists) will come!
Not only do they come...they dress up! 1982 also marked the arrival of one of the festival's premier events...the Pretenders in Paradise Costume Contest at the Pier House! With over $10,000 in cash prizes, people came out of the woodwork dressed to the nines in their most outrageous, super-secret and super-elaborate costume! The event now draws contestants from all over the country, many of whom have been tolling at their sewing machine (or in their garage) for over a year. Each year the costumes get bigger and more creative. Tickets for this Thursday night event go quickly and space is limited on the beautiful Pier House beach. The Gulf of Mexico provides the perfect backdrop for this one-of-a-kind, only in Key West show...yesiree, a reelly, reeelly beeeg show!
Every Fantasy Fest event has its own particular charm and for 10 days, it's unnerving trying to decide whether to attend the Headdress Ball or the Party in Plaid...the Homemade Bikini Contest or the Pet Masquerade & Parade...Sloppy Joe's Annual Toga Party or a Pajama & Lingerie Party...the Monster's Ball or the Masquerade March through the Cemetery...well, you get the point? There are a few "whirling dervishes" who actually claim they managed to do it ALL (believe it or not!
But everyone does show up en masse for the Fantasy Fest Parade on Saturday night, a procession of glittering floats, marching bands and dancing groups to rival anything seen in New Orleans during Mardi Gras...and it just doesn't get any wilder than this! But as the saying goes, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings" and she don't sing 'til Sunday night, November 1st at the "Fat Lady Sings" tea dance at La Te Da, the last official event of Fantasy Fest!
The good news is Fantasy Fest '16 begins October 21st and there's still plenty of time to get sewing, and get going to one of the greatest parties on earth!