Female impersonators are to transform the 700 block of Key West’s Duval Street into an improvised speedway Saturday, April 20, entertaining crowds of spectators during the wacky Great Conch Republic Drag Race.
The eclectic event features racing drag queens dressed in their highest heels and most stylish racing attire as they sprint from Petronia to Angela streets. The first qualifying heats are scheduled for 2pm with finals around 5pm.
Hosted by the Bourbon St. Pub, the event typically spoofs an auto-racing spectacular with a starting gate, pit stops, finish line, and viewing areas. Organizers are outfitted as pit crew and race officials, while an island DJ blares the sound of air horns and revving engines.
A large crowd generally gathers to watch the often-hilarious drag performers test their high-heeled sprinting abilities on the asphalt — many wearing full makeup and elaborate wigs.
Rules of the road require the racers to navigate various street hazards including an obstacle course of tires. They also typically get a high-speed “diva-style” ride up the track in super-charged shopping carts propelled by local male dancers.
The action gets increasingly intense as the “dragsters” speed along the street, attempting to outpace their rivals while trying to avoid overheating, high-heel blowouts and wipeouts that might cause a dreaded wardrobe malfunction.
Registration for the all-welcome event is free of charge. Bourbon St. Pub plans to provide costumes including high-heeled shoes for entrants that don’t have their own.
Donations are welcome in return; according to event organizer and Bourbon Street Complex owner Joseph Schroeder, the race is to benefit the local Petronia Street Neighborhood Association.
The drag competition is part of Key West’s 37th annual Conch Republic Independence Celebration. The 10-day festival commemorates the Florida Keys’ symbolic 1982 secession from the United States and formation of the independent island republic.
The celebration runs from Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 28. The schedule is packed with events on land and sea including a lighthearted sea battle and a “Barks & Brews Block Party” benefiting the Florida Keys SPCA.
Drag Race information: New Orleans House Guest House at 305-293-9800.
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or gaykeywestfl.com.