The Florida Keys & Key West

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Wacky Key West 'Drag Race' to Star High-Heeled Female Impersonators

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Dragsters sporting high-heeled shoes instead of monster-sized wheels are to sprint along a challenging course at the Great Conch Republic Drag Race scheduled Saturday, April 22, in Key West.

Held in the 700 block of Duval Street, the island's appropriately nicknamed "main drag," the zany race is set for 2-5 p.m. and is hosted by the Bourbon St. Pub Complex.

The traditional auto-racing atmosphere is enhanced by organizers dressed as "pit crew" and a sound system blaring the noise of revving engines, but the event's focus is on the often-hilarious female impersonators competing in full makeup and wigs.

Wearing startlingly high heels mandated by race rules, they attempt to dash down the street faster than their rivals while trying to avoid spills, broken heels and wardrobe malfunctions.

Racers typically are required to navigate an obstacle course of tires and various other street hazards as spectators cheer for their favorites. The participants also get a "diva-style" ride down Duval Street in shopping carts propelled by local male dancers.

According to event organizers, the offbeat competition drew some 1,700 onlookers in 2016.

Race registration is free. Past years' contestants have included a senior citizen visiting from Canada, who donned homemade heels held together with duct tape and said he was having the best time of his life.

This year, Bourbon St. Pub plans to provide high-heeled shoes and costumes for racers who might need them. Donations are welcome in return.

The drag challenge is part of Key West's 35th 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 republic.

The celebration runs through Sunday, April 30, with events including a "sea battle" featuring tall ships, a pet stroll benefiting the local Xena Fund pet charity and a Duval Street bed race dubbed "the most fun you can have in bed with your clothes on."

Drag Race information: New Orleans House Guest House at 305-293-9800

Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or gaykeywestfl.com

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Wearing startlingly high heels mandated by race rules, female impersonators attempt to dash down the street faster than their rivals while trying to avoid spills, broken heels and wardrobe malfunctions.

Wearing startlingly high heels mandated by race rules, female impersonators attempt to dash down the street faster than their rivals while trying to avoid spills, broken heels and wardrobe malfunctions.

The participants also get a "diva-style" ride down Duval Street in shopping carts propelled by local male dancers.

The participants also get a "diva-style" ride down Duval Street in shopping carts propelled by local male dancers.

The drag challenge is part of Key West's 35th 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 republic.

The drag challenge is part of Key West's 35th 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 republic.

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