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Fantasy Fest in Florida Keys canceled because of coronavirus

Half of Florida Keys workforce is employed in tourism-related jobs

Key West cancels Fantasy Fest because of COVID-19 risks
Key West cancels Fantasy Fest because of COVID-19 risks

KEY WEST, Fla. – The risk of coronavirus transmission has prompted organizers in the Florida Keys to cancel this year's Fantasy Fest.

Key West's annual masking and costuming festival had been scheduled for Oct. 16-25, but festival director Nadene Grossman Orr said Thursday that the 41st edition will not be staged.

The festival was developed in 1979 to bolster off-season business in the tourism-based economy. It grew to generate some $30 million in annual revenues for the Florida Keys island chain.

“Since there will not be a Fantasy Fest 2020, we are concerned about how the island’s workers will be affected,” Grossman Orr said.

About half of the Florida Keys workforce is employed in tourism-related jobs, Keys tourism officials said. The island chain reopened to visitors June 1 after being closed to nonresidents for some 10 weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Grossman Orr said that festival officials will work with other community-based organizations to raise donations and disperse them to those most in need in Key West.