Fest organizers to choose new direction for Royal fundraiser

“Thanks for the memories.” 

That’s the sentiment, and the theme, behind the upcoming 2022 Royal Campaign of Fantasy Fest, which will be the last to benefit AH of Monroe County.. 

The AH Monroe board of directors decided on Friday, May 27 to return the campaign to the Tourism Development Association (TDA), which produces Fantasy Fest, will choose a new direction for the King & Queen Campaign in 2023, states a Friday press release from the agency.

“The event itself is not concluding after this year,” said Scott Pridgen, executive director/CEO of AH Monroe.  “We also want to ensure no one misinterprets this as a conclusion to Fantasy Fest. That’s why we chose ‘Thanks For The Memories.’ Our gratitude stretches across decades of Royal fundraising. This only alters who benefits from the Royal Campaign.”

“What an amazing partnership we have shared…and a legacy for the A.H. of Monroe County organization…and all who have run and been crowned Fantasy Fest Royalty!” TDA Board director Diane Schmidt remarked.

“We’re quite proud that the agency has become more self-sustaining. It’s only fair that, next year and going forward, another worthy organization reaps the many rewards of this over-the-top fundraiser,” AH Monroe board president Rebecca Balcer said.

Since 1989, the Royal Campaign fundraiser  (more commonly known as the King and Queen Campaign) also promoted awareness for those infected with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS, as well as the agency’s programs like housing and emergency services.

Why the change? 

It’s been suggested in the last couple years, but pandemic event closures placed any resolution on hold. But even those years offered hints of how it could evolve, including the involvement of other local nonprofits in the ‘Community Wins!’ pivot staged in 2020.

 “Our board felt the honorable exit strategy was to announce our intention before Candidate Informational Sessions and not after The Royal Coronation,” Pridgen explained. “Everyone loves a TV series finale. This way, our rock-star candidates and everyone who came before can go out in style.”

 Christopher Elwell, board member and himself King of Fantasy Fest 2010, also adds that “the legacy continues. Our Royal Family, which we call ROQK (‘Royal Order of Queens and Kings’) will continue to promote local philanthropy in their visibility.”

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