New company takes over for 2017 event

Nadene Grossman Orr, owner of We’ve Got The Keys, is no stranger to hard work, event planning, or Fantasy Fest. So, when Linda O’Brien of Market Share, the company that previously ran Fantasy Fest, retired in December, Grossman Orr and her team – including art guru Marky Pierson and past Fantasy Fest coordinator Lindsey Sigafoos – was not only a suitable choice, but quite possibly the best choice.

We’ve Got The Keys has planned Singer Songwriter Festival, POSH, corporate events, and previously Key West Film Fest. Grossman Orr has also been uber-involved in the community and helps each year collecting thousands of dollars’ worth of items for “Troop Rewards” for veterans who visit Key West after serving overseas. She’s also the 2003 Fantasy Fest Queen, and a mom to an almost 3-year-old.

“Nadene was the natural candidate for Fantasy Fest,” said O’Brien, the 27-year Fantasy Fest planner. “Her experience in event planning will serve her well. Nadene will be successful in anything she decides to do. She is a hard worker and a person you can depend upon. I am very pleased the Tourist Development Association Board chose her company.”

Grossman Orr said she’s looking forward to the event, and is overwhelmed by the amount of encouragement and support she’s received from the community. “I think the community is just as excited as I am,” she said.

She’s filled with good ideas, too, like focusing on the arts community. “Marky’s relationship in particular with the arts community is invaluable,” she said, citing his work with Zombie Bike Ride and the Papio’s Kinetic Sculpture Parade, among others. “We have opened the door to more community partners and more creativity.”

Without limiting past successful Fantasy Fest events, she said she’s happy to consult with the later-evening, lifestyle events to help add some panache, and is planning on a separate “after dark” schedule for such events.

“We have a few events in the works, and many venues who said they are eager to participate again,” she said. “People will be pleasantly surprised with the lineups.”

She also mentioned the Fantasy Fest poster contest will remain, but Pierson has some other creative shirt ideas up his sleeves. “Locals are going to love the shirts,” she said. “They might even buy one.”

The 10-day Fantasy Fest takes place the last week in October with the parade this year on Saturday, Oct. 28. The event began in 1979 to boost tourism during a once slow period for Key West.

“I’m very happy to hear Nadene is taking over management of Fantasy Fest and putting together such a talented team to work with her,” said Key West Mayor Craig Cates. “I believe they will bring new enthusiasm and improve the event with all their fresh new ideas.”

PHOTO: In 2011, the Florida Keys Lodging Association’s float travels down Duval Street carrying King Neptune. Nadene Grossman Orr of We’ve Got The Keys is hoping to bring more floats and more creativity to the 10-day event. ANDY NEWMAN/Florida Keys News Bureau

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