A Royal Restrospective: a Look Back at the Kings & Queens of Fantasy Fest

October 11, 2018 - October 29, 2018

Custom House Museum | Foyer

Key West Art & Historical Society Celebrates Fantasy Fest Altruism and the Candidates Behind it

Brace yourselves—it’s that time of year again, where 50,000 costumed (or semi-costumed) revelers arrive to party hardy, Fantasy Fest style. The Key West Art & Historical Society joins in on the carousing by paying homage to the altruism of the world-renowned island festival that provides integral funds for AIDS Help with an exhibit titled Royal Retrospective:  A Look Back at the Kings & Queens of Fantasy Fest, which runs October 11th – 29th,  and with , a special, all-candidate AIDS Help fundraiser celebration to take place Thursday, October 18th from 6pm-8pm.

The brainchild of Frank Romano, Joe Liszka, Tony Falcone, and Bill Conkle, Fantasy Fest was created in 1979 as a remedy to boost tourism with a two-day celebration and parade. Over the decades, it has grown into a ten-day, colorful extravaganza featuring balls, parties, and parades, culminating with an immense, Mardi-Gras style parade helmed by that year’s Fantasy Fest King and Queen— a title won by the candidate who has raised the most money for AIDS Help.

“There are good, wholesome, altruistic elements of Fantasy Fest and we are here to celebrate that,” says Cori Convertito, PhD, Key West Art & Historical Society Curator. “The exhibit and the retrospective fundraiser are celebrations of all of the candidates that have participated, and all they’ve done for Key West and AIDS Help.”  These fundraising efforts often begin several months prior to the coronation, involving teams of people in it for the cause.

The Royal Retrospective exhibit is co-curated with Tennessee Williams Museum curator Dennis Beaver and will focus on the themes from each year’s celebration via the annual Fantasy Fest posters, digital photographs of the former Kings and Queens, the fundraising efforts on behalf of AIDS Help, and the diverse objects and images that make Key West the place to be each October.  A Royal Retrospective:  a Look Back at the Kings & Queens of Fantasy Fest aims to be “a reunion of sorts” says Convertito, and encourages former kings and queens to be on hand for the all-candidate AIDS Help fundraiser celebration featuring the exhibit, a cash bar, and appetizers.

“We hope everyone will come, reminisce, learn, and celebrate such a wonderful community event,” says Convertito.

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