a woman sitting on a chair in front of a painting
Fantasy Fest queen candidate Vicky Rowden introduces her feline friends during the royal kickoff for the Fantasy Fest king and queen fundraising campaign. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly

This year’s Fantasy Fest king and queen campaign — a “furr-ious” six-week fundraising endeavor — benefits the Florida Keys SPCA. The campaign kicked off Sept. 8 with candidate introductions and parody performances at the Key West Theater.

The two wannabe royals who raise the most money will be crowned Oct. 20 at the Royal Coronation at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater.

This is the inaugural year with the Florida Keys SPCA as beneficiaries. The Florida Keys SPCA is the largest animal welfare organization in the Keys, formed in 1999, protecting pets in paradise from Key West to Marathon. 

Following the kickoff, candidates stage an array of events to raise money; some venues host events that feature all five candidates.

The Royal Court, their campaign team and other key supporters appear prominently in the Saturday evening Duval Street parade on a float designed specifically to highlight their financial achievement.

The Royal Coronation Ball will take place Friday, Oct. 20 at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater at Truman Waterfront, where the candidates who raise the most money will be crowned.

This year’s candidates are: Ben Hennington, Shawn Montgomery, Tangela Torres, Donald Wells and Vicky Rowden. For full bios and to donate to the cause, visit fantasyfest.com/king-and-queen-fkspca.

Mandy Miles
Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.