Royal Retrospective: Forty Years of Fantasy Fest

October 5 - October 20, 2019

Custom House Museum | Bryan Gallery

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 AH Monroe with a new exhibit titled Royal Retrospective: 40 Years of Fantasy Fest.

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 AH Monroe.

The Royal Retrospective exhibit is co-curated with Tennessee Williams Key West Exhibit founder Dennis Beaver and will focus on the themes from each year’s celebration via the annual Fantasy Fest posters, photographs of the former Kings and Queens, the fundraising efforts on behalf of AH Monroe, and the diverse objects and images that make Key West the place to be each October.  This year is extra special because Fantasy Fest organizers have donated a large number of historical ephemera and photographs to The Society that will be on display.

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