Merrymakers will meet in Key West for a playful parody of auto racing, with entrants swapping high-speed cars for high-heeled shoes and female drag “ah-tire” while dashing along an improvised racetrack on Saturday, April 22.
The annual Conch Republic Drag Race is to take place in the 700 block of famed Duval Street, home to the island’s vibrant LGBTQ entertainment district. Presented by the Petronia St. Neighborhood Association and under the direction of the Bourbon St. Pub staff, the zany race is to “clock in” with registration at 2:30 p.m. and trials at 3 p.m. followed by qualifying heats and finals.
Traditional auto racing is spoofed throughout the lighthearted event, with gregarious organizers posing as “pit crew” while waving checkered flags and a local DJ improvising the roar of revving engines. The event’s “dragsters”—sporting lavish lipstick, extravagant wigs and race-mandated high-heeled footwear—entertain audiences while attempting to outpace their rivals. Racers must navigate various hazards on the “track” including an obstacle course of tires and other wipeout-worthy perils as spectators cheer on their favorites.
Race registration is free for all contestants willing to don the required towering heels and dresses or other female finery.The drag challenge is part of Key West’s 41st annual Conch Republic Days celebration. Scheduled April 21-30, the festival commemorates the Florida Keys’ symbolic 1982 secession from the United States and formation of the independent republic. Among its highlights are a reenactment of the secession, the so-called “World’s Longest Parade” that proceeds along Duval Street from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, a lighthearted sea battle featuring tall ships and a wearable art fashion show.