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Creatively Costumed Critters to Compete in Quirky Key West Contest

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KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Colorfully garbed canines, felines in finery and other costumed critters are to strut their stuff Wednesday, Oct. 26, during Key West’s annual Pet Masquerade.

The fur is likely to fly as pets and their people vie for prizes in the family-friendly competition, a highlight of the island city’s Fantasy Fest costuming and masking festival that runs Oct. 21-30.

The masquerade contest typically draws entries ranging from pet-and-person pairs to multimember animal-and-human ensembles staging offbeat performances.

Many entries are likely to reflect the 2022 Fantasy Fest theme of “Cult Classics & Cartoon Chaos.” Furred and feathered contestants might portray cartoon superhero Underdog, comic-strip cat Garfield or even a flock from filmdom’s “The Birds.” 

Open to all domestic pets, the quirky competition — a favorite for animal lovers of all ages — is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater at Key West’s Truman Waterfront Park, 21 E. Quay Road.

A panel of judges is to evaluate the entries as they promenade across the amphitheater stage while spectators applaud the animal antics. Prizes are awarded for the top junior contestants, most exotic attire, best theme adaptation, best pet-owner look-alikes and overall winner.

Recent years’ standouts have included a feline duo portraying musical superstars Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, a “Wizard of Oz” troupe with a canine Cowardly Lion and a “steam punk” pug dressed in psychedelic garb. 

General admission for spectators is free, with ample seating as well as space for attendees’ blankets and lawn chairs. Plans call for food and beverages to be available for purchase on-site, so coolers are not allowed. 

Registration for competitors begins at 5 p.m. and the fee is $25 per category. The Pet Masquerade is produced by QuePasa KW Inc., and all proceeds from the event benefit the Lower Keys Friends of Animals. 

Gigi, a Yorkshire terrier, competes in her finest garb during an annual Pet Masquerade. Image: Rob O'Neal

Gigi, a Yorkshire terrier, competes in her finest garb during an annual Pet Masquerade. Image: Rob O'Neal

A bulldog costumed as a peacock walks across the stage during the 2018 Fantasy Fest Pet Masquerade.  Image: Rob O'Neal

A bulldog costumed as a peacock walks across the stage during the 2018 Fantasy Fest Pet Masquerade. Image: Rob O'Neal

Meredith Dunning competes with her dog Scuppers onstage. Image: Rob O'Neal

Meredith Dunning competes with her dog Scuppers onstage. Image: Rob O'Neal

This article was updated on September 19, 2022 at 12:47 PM
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