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This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Go Down to the Honkytonk

August 28, 2019

Go Down to the Honkytonk

Jake Owen


Trevor, Brenda, Nadene and Charlie

2018 FF King Larry 

The end of August and the approach of Labor Day means that the summer is officially over, kids are heading back to school and in Key West, it means the start of the official run-up to Fantasy Fest with the annual announcement party where the candidates for Fantasy Fest King and Queen are announced. The event has been held for the past few years at the Southernmost House and it begins eight weeks of fundraising events for AH Monroe.


The crowning of King and Queen seems to have lost some luster from the good old days when it was just a huge undertaking and this year, as has been the case the past few years, it looks as if they have had trouble finding candidates to participate. While the quantity of the candidates has gone down, perhaps the quality has gone up as the four candidates from last year still managed to raise $175,000.00 to benefit AH which is by far their largest fundraising opportunity of the year.


This year there are two candidates for each, King and Queen and they seem to be as enthusiastic as ever in their plans to compete for the coveted crowns, the candidates in each category who raise the most funds leading up to Fantasy Fest will wear the crowns which will be given out at the Royal Coronation party the Friday evening before Fantasy Fest week in October.


This event was the official introduction of the candidates and gave the public their first glimpse of the four candidates who will be dominating the social scene in Key West for the following two months. Each candidate gives a brief introduction and performs a brief skit to entertain the crowd to kick-off their candidacy. It makes for a zany and fun evening as the candidates put their best foot forward and try to launch their campaigns with good momentum.

Living in Key West has a lot of obvious benefits, but thanks to my friend Nadene, I was able to score a coveted free pass to one of the cool rare things that happen here. Budweiser beer sponsored a Nationwide contest where the winners got a free trip to Key West on a private cruise ship that they called the Budlight Getaway. As part of the winner’s prize package, Budlight hosted a private concert at the Key West Amphitheater featuring Country star Jake Owen.

Kyle, Charlie and Trevor 

Budlight rented out the amphitheater and set up a beautiful festival like atmosphere for the relatively small crowd of 1400 winners. They must have spent a ton, because they brought in all sorts of cool stuff like huge swings, Adirondack Chairs, a complete selection of picnic tables and umbrellas and more for the event. Nadene had helped the organizers out and had some free passes for the concert which was held at midday on a Saturday.

Penny and Rich 

It was hot, but really nice, especially since we found our way to the VIP tenet which had huge electric misters and was quite comfortable. I was largely unfamiliar with Jake Owen, though I had seen him once previously some years ago when he played the Key West Songwriter’s Festival. 

This time he was back with his full band and played a fantastic 90 minute set, that featured all of his hits, songs from his most recent release and a few cool covers including a Jimmy Buffet cover, “A Pirate Looks at 40.” The show was really great. He was really seeming to have a great time and has a magnetic personality that really came across in front of the small but enthusiastic crowd of contest winners, who seemed to appreciate the rare, intimate experience they were having.

I know that I certainly did, it was a truly great show and the ability to walk right up to just about the front of the stage with ease was really nice, as was the free food and beer and the company that I was with, Nadene and her husband Trevor and our friend Brenda. It capped off a great weekend and a nice start to the run-up to what is the busiest time of the year here in Key West.


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