A combination of entertainment and imaginative pageantry, Thursday night’s event featured competitors in headdresses adorned with exotic feathers, sequins, offbeat accessories and even moving parts.
Repeat contender Virginia Wark was declared the overall winner for her "40 Years Off Key" headdress inspired by Fantasy Fest's musically-focused theme, "In Tune But ... Off Key," and the festival’s 40th anniversary being celebrated this year. Her futuristic headdress towered above her, decorated with supersized keys blended with musical notes and symbols.
Other standout entries included “Key West Wreckers,” a nod to the island’s seafaring past that featured a “fleet” of glittering sailing vessels, and “Big Pine Karaoke” with entrants portraying karaoke singers embedded in gigantic pieces of sheet music.
The annual Headdress Ball is a fundraising benefit for the Key West Business Guild, one of the oldest LGBTQ business organizations in the United States.
Upcoming Fantasy Fest events include a masquerade march that begins at the local cemetery and Saturday night’s exotic parade through Key West’s historic downtown. Featuring elaborate floats and costumed walking groups, the parade is expected to attract more than 60,000 fantasy fans.