Wyland calls it the "Florida Keys Mardi Gras on steroids."
Yup, that's Key West's Fantasy Fest, a wildly fun and entertaining festival that is held the week before Halloween. Wyland will be there this year, for some of the best people-watching on the planet, the incredible costumes, the amazing floats, and more. He's also calling it his biggest show of the year, where he'll be dressed as a pirate like he has been years before and painting in his famous gallery on Duval Street starting on Wednesday night, October 25th. What an amazing experience this would be, especially with Wyland showcasing his remarkable painting at his gallery...wish we could be there.
As we've blogged about before, we love the Florida Keys and truly feel that there's no other place quite like it on earth. That said, we'd never even heard of Key West Fantasy Fest! Everyone throughout the country seems to make such a big deal about Mardi Gras in New Orleans (which is another truly incredible place), but we've never heard people talk about Fantasy Fest until we learned about it from Wyland. So, we wanted to learn a little bit more about it. It first started way back in 1979 (almost 40 years ago!) when two local businessmen tried to drum up business by starting a sort of street fair, which ended up stimulating the economy in ways they never dreamed. Hotels were hopping, bars and restaurants were packed, and eventually the event turned into a ten-day festival filled with floats, costume parties, body painting, pet and neighborhood parades, and much more. Two Key West residents are elected King and Queen each year, a tradition aimed at an eight-week charity campaign which culminates at Fantasy Fest.
Let's hope Wyland posts a lot of photos of his experiences at Fantasy Fest on Facebook this week! We want to live vicariously through him as he enjoys the Keys...even if we can't be there ourselves. We are especially happy to hear Fantasy Fest is happening despite the overwhelming devastation of recent Hurricane Irma. The Keys are magical and hopefully these incredible islands and their inhabitants will always be around to enjoy Fantasy Fest!