• Singles, couples and groups of women flock to Key West each year to enjoy parties, performances and camaraderie. (Photo courtesy of Womenfest Key West)

     

  • By: Steve Smith
  • September 2, 2015

Labor Day for many means all the fun and relaxation of summer have come to an end, white clothes are out, sales begin, the kids have been in school for a week or so, and a Monday holiday kicks off what’s likely to be a very busy month.

Randy Roberts Key West entertainer

Randy Roberts displays mega-talent during September performances at beloved Key West landmark La Te Da.

How did it begin? Labor Day can be traced back to an organized parade in New York City in 1882. Union leaders wanted a “monster labor festival,” which started off rather slowly but later grew to attract massive crowds to celebrate a day of the people. It has now become a national holiday — and Key West, of course, always makes the best of it.

Here in Key West, we know that Labor Day means a holiday for some, “no vacancy” signs on hotels, and a busy three-day weekend for our friends and family working in the hospitality industry. Look for themed parties at the local pubs including a Labor Day Luau at Bourbon St. Pub complete with a barbecue and eye-opening special effects, Randy Roberts and Christopher Peterson live and a rocking Tea Dance at the newly remodeled La Te Da, gay Bingo with QMitch Jones, and snorkeling on the BluQ.

When the Labor Day partying ends, Womenfest Key West kicks off with shows ranging from burlesque to drag, sunset sailing and much more — including performances by the all-female rock band Sister Funk (who I met years ago at Atlanta Pride), singer-songwriter Jennifer Corday (who is known for her passionate vocals and has opened for Cher and the Dave Matthews Band), and DJ Citizen Jane (who headlines Pride festivals across the U.S.).

Singles, couples and groups of women flock to Key West each year to enjoy parties, performances and camaraderie. (Photo courtesy of Womenfest Key West)

Singles, couples and groups of women flock to Key West’s Womenfest each year to enjoy parties, performances and camaraderie. (Photo courtesy of Womenfest Key West)

During the weekend, Sunset Watersports is hosting a sunset “concert on the sea” with Sister Funk and Alexander’s Guesthouse is hosting a hip-hop pool party. Plus Fury Water Adventures brings the music of Jennifer Corday to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico as the sun sets, complemented by margaritas, draft beer, wine, sodas and appetizers.

The Gardens Hotel invites the Womenfest attendees to a wine tasting at the boutique hotel, which has earned repeated kudos and awards from Conde Nast Traveler among many others. Guests can stroll among an acre of tropical gardens, enjoy live entertainment and sample fine wines.

The Gardens Hotel was once known as the first tourist attraction in Key West and is the former home of Peggy Mills, who wanted a garden retreat for visitors. The property transports guests back to a time when one-ton earthenware jars, called tinajones, were used by Spanish settlers of Cuba to catch rainwater for drinking.

Gardens Hotel Key West

Huge water jars called tinajones add historic flair to the grounds of Key West’s Gardens Hotel.

There are four on the property, and a winding pathway is lined with century-old bricks from Cuba, the Honduras and England.

There’s still plenty of time to plan your visit during Womenfest, and many of the great events are open to everyone. After all, we are all members of “One Human Family” and we encourage you to share your time and space with each other. Spending time on a tiny island brings us all together in a magical way — and yes, the magic of Key West is still alive and well.

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