Making the decision to hold the seventh annual Bubbas (Key West People’s Choice Awards) was no easy task. Amid a pandemic and every other dagger 2020 has thrown at us (thus far), the Keys Weekly and our partners have all endured more than our fair share of struggles and adjustments. But it was for that very reason we decided to move forward with one of Key West’s most beloved events, which has proudly raised over $80,000 for local non-profits since its inception in 2014. 

This year was obviously much different. Our initial plan was to cancel the event entirely. Pitting community businesses and friends against one another in a “best of” contest just didn’t seem appropriate — especially as we are all working to keep one another afloat. 

But while some of our favorite Bubbas memories have been provided by the voting, friendly competition — and of course, the shenanigans from the main event at the Key West Theater — the Bubbas were always designed to ultimately give back. And after speaking with Nadene Grossman Orr (Fantasy Fest and We’ve Got the Keys) over the past several weeks, we were moved by her commitment to mitigate the impacts of canceled events — particularly the charitable losses from Fantasy Fest and the King & Queen Royal Campaign. 

Nadene, along with the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, formed Community Wins, a group of alternative events to help replace the Fantasy Fest charitable losses, including auctions, theme runs and other specials, to raise critical housing funds for A.H. Monroe, Samuel’s House, Sister Season Fund and Florida Keys Outreach Coalition for the homeless.

This year, the 2020 Bubbas will be dedicated to Community Wins. With the help of some amazing sponsors (First State Bank of the Florida Keys, Horan Law, Niles Sales & Service,  The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, First State Bank of Florida Keys, Lower Keys Medical Center and The Key West Theater) the Bubbas have already raised more than $5,500 for this amazing cause. Now we ask our local friends and businesses to begin voting at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18 — and consider supporting our friends and neighbors that define Key West. 

There’s never a dull moment, or an open seat, at the annual Bubbas: Key West People’s Choice Awards.

A few changes 

There will be some twists to this year’s Bubbas voting. First, we are commemorating the last six years by placing all previous winners on the current ballot. Typically, any and all businesses would be eligible during the nominations stage. But again, due to the economic climate, we wanted to avoid any additional burdens on struggling businesses — or those simply focused on recovery. 

Furthermore, to adhere to safety and social distancing, there will be no awards show this year. Voting begins at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18 at keysweekly.com and will end at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16. 

Another new twist includes the ability to cast a new vote during each of the four weeks of the voting period. Voters will have a chance to cast up to four votes beginning each Friday of the contest. We have never done this before, but without an event, we wanted to create as many additional opportunities to support Community Wins as possible. 

Most of all, we want to remind everyone to have fun. It has been a challenging year in so many ways and we hope this year’s Bubbas format offers a moment of positivity and unity. Everyone on this year’s ballot has been voted the BEST at one point over the past six years. 

In last year’s Bubbas alone, we received more than 18,000 ballots from here at home and across the world, proving that Key West remains one of the most popular destinations in the world — and everyone has a favorite something, someplace or somebody in the Southernmost City. 

So if you’ve ever won a Bubba, been nominated or even come close, it’s worth a celebration. After all, there are no losers in Key West. We’re family. One Human Family to be exact.

Votes are subjective. Love and appreciation is not, so please come together and support an amazing cause. 

And who knows, maybe by 2021 we’ll see you back at the Key West Theater for another memorable evening. And thank you for allowing us to present the Seventh Annual Bubbas: Key West People’s Choice Awards.

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