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…the rest of the story.

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Anyone with passing knowledge of Key West knows October brings one of the most interesting “ah-hem” festivals in the world to Key West.

And yes, Fantasy Fest certainly has the “Full Monty” of exotic activities that rival Marti Gras, with upwards of 100,000 people coming into town over 10 days.

However, there’s an interesting depth and insight into the soul of the “One Human Family” here that’s also behind this celebration. One that’s raised about $5M for HL Monroe Charitiesto support affordable healthcare and housing to those in need (there’s a waiting list), treatment programs, education and scholarships that support local research and data analytics.

When you dig deeper into what’s behind this 10-day festival, you’ll find an incredible group of dedicated, industrious and hard-working volunteers that “make it happen”.

We’ll focus on just one aspect of FF…the coronation of the King and Queen, and “The Royal Competition”. Humm…what the heck is that all about? Who are these people, and why do this?

It’s all about raising money for local charity…completely. You have to believe in your community, simply embrace the spirit of “giving back”, and be prepared to work that little derriere off.

This year, 5 dedicated souls have put themselves “out there” as nominees for Fantasy Fest King and Queen. Stay with me for a moment, because it gets pretty interesting right here.

Who would want to be nominated for this task?, and…Who decides who “wins”?

To jump into the fray, you need to raise $2,500. From there, it’s go-time. The “coronated” winners are the man and woman that raise the most money. 

These people publically and very visibly put themselves on the line to outraise each other. Wow, talk about pressure. Well, it goes even deeper.

They take the appearance of political campaigns, with campaign managers, various fund-raising events…but with the single purpose of raising fund for HL Monroe Charities. Each candidate has committed to raise money…and a lot of it. Fantasy Fest was limited last year due to Irma, in 2016 alone this specific King/Queen process raised close to $400,000 just by itself.

Now, these events get pretty creative. A favorite coming up is a private party for an orchid auction. A team is creating about 50 unique orchid displays (lot of work just in that), then hosting a party to auction them off. Those funds get credited to the candidate they are working with, but “Holy Orchids Batman!”, that’s a lot of hours. Seriously, scroll through this and check-out some of these events and their creativity. Lot of work, lot of volunteers.

These campaigns go wide and deep, with people across the world sending in donations for their candidate. (Again…100% of everything raised goes straight to charity). It ranges from letter writing to just about anyone they crossed paths with, “American Idol” themed singing competitions, bingos, runs, mixers…and well, whatever the imagination can conjure up. All in good spirit, and with one goal.

But I “gotta” come back to these people putting themselves out there, committing themselves to raise money… a lot of it. And in front of the community they live and work.

Well done!

One of my favorites quotes is from Teddy Roosevelt, paraphrased: It is not the critic who counts; not the man/woman who points out how the strong man/woman stumbles…credit belongs to the man/woman who is actually in the arena…”

Here are the five that dove into this arena. We’ve donated $1,000 ($200 to each).

Take a glimpse at their bio’s and consider “participating” in the competition by supporting one or two. Or come to one of these events: Candidate Event Calendar (click here)

Here are the links to:

“The Royal Campaign of Fantasy Fest 2018”


Queen: Jennifer Hughes and Bernadette Restivo


King: Dave BevensLarry Blackburn and Mike Syring


But no matter what, just remember to take that deep breath and “Live Life Now”!

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