Fantasy Fest, held every October for the last 33 years, is Key West’s version of Mardi Gras. In the beginning, Fantasy Fest was the brainchild of local businessmen Tony Falcone and Bill Conkle for the purpose of bringing business to the area during off season. But through the years the event has grown into much more. It has become an event not only for revelry but to benefit AIDS Help.
Each year, locals vie for the coveted position of Fantasy Fest King and Queen. Candidates hold several fundraisers for AIDS Help. Fundraisers come in all forms, everything from drag shows to poetry readings and from concerts to car washes. The candidates that raise the most money for this cause are crowed king and queen. In 2011, the candidates raised over $181,000.
How does one apply for candidacy of King and Queen of Fantasy Fest? To become a candidate one must meet the following requirements:
- Have a campaign manager and treasurer for the financial management of the campaign.
- Have been a resident of Monroe County for at least a year.
- Submit a completed Candidate Application Form for approval by the Fundraising Committee.
- Complete a biography and forward a press release photos to the Candidate Director.
- Participate in the mandatory activities including the Campaign Workshop, the Campaign Kickoff, and the Royal Election & Coronation Ball.
- Enlist the support of a maximum of four major sponsors committing a combined total of $750 to $1000 to be used as seed money for the campaign.
- Request that all checks collected by made payable to “AIDS Help.”
- The words “Fantasy Fest” can only be used as “Fantasy Fest King” or Fantasy Fest Queen.”
The official campaigning for King and Queen of Fantasy Fest starts on August 24th, 2012 at the kickoff party and ends on October 19th, 2012 at het Coronation Ball.