Third annual Phoestivus to be held December 5 and 12

Last year’s Phoestivus was held closer to Christmas. This year, the organizers shifted the event earlier for shoppers. (Evie Carpenter/DD)

The third annual Phoestivus open-air market chock-full of holiday delight will take over the Phoenix Public Market area in downtown Phoenix Dec. 5 and 12. The event will feature venders with unique gifts and holiday festivities to benefit the community.

The annual fundraiser named after Festivus, a secular holiday made popular by the 1990s sitcom “Seinfeld,” will be held at the market near Pierce and First streets from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There will be classic Phoestivus pleasantries including the Airing of Grievances, Feats of Strength and the World’s Largest Phoestivus pole, taking after the traditions demonstrated in the “Seinfeld” episode.

Phoestivus has grown incrementally since its beginning in 2010. In its first year the event had approximately 40 venders and six food trucks. The second year brought in over 70 venders and six food trucks, and this year there will be over 80 venders including 12 food trucks and a beer garden, according to the event’s website.

“The first year was one night, the second year was two nights, this year is two nights and a beer garden,” said Ken Clark of Get Your Phx, the driving force of the event.

The Phoenix Ale Brewery will sponsor Phoestivus this year and host the beer garden, an area in the open-air market where ale will be served. They have also created a special seasonal brew, christened Phoestivus Ale, in honor of the event.

Get Your Phx and the Phoenix Ale Brewery have worked hard for the vision of a beer garden to take off to raise money for the community, Clark said.

“The beer garden is no small task because we have to get city permits, we have to have barriers, we have to check IDs, and only certain people can take money,” he said.

Ten percent of the fundraiser and all of the beer garden proceeds will benefit Community Food Connections, the nonprofit operation that coordinates food truck events and the biweekly farmers market at the Phoenix Public Market, according to the Phoestivus website.

“Last year, we helped the Community Food Connections do about 10 times as much business as they would have normally done on a Wednesday night. This year, we hope to help increase their gross income and raise money through the beer garden,” Clark said.

Phoestivus was scheduled earlier than previous years to appease holiday shoppers. The one extra week before the holidays will allow more shopping time.

“The second (Phoestivus) was on the 14th and 21st. I think we felt we were too close to Christmas with the last one, and people had done all their shopping,” Clark said.

Bree Boehlke, a 31-year-old holiday shopper of Phoenix, said she is excited to buy neat, individual gifts at Phoestivus for a cause.

“(Phoestivus) promotes local business owners, and local business is definitely the backbone of our economy and something we need to support, especially at economic downtime like this,” she said.

Local business owners, including Brad Moore of Short Leash food truck, and Jannine Doto of Nina & Grapey handmade toys, said they enjoy participating in Phoestivus and will be attending for the third time.

“It’s a fun addition to what we typically do on a Wednesday night down at the market. It brings a little excitement to the downtown area,” Moore said. “I think it is an opportunity for businesses that don’t typically participate in the farmers market to come utilize that space, and it’s a neat way to mix it up and do something holiday themed.”

Sock monkeys sold by Nina & Grapey were some of the more popular items at last year’s Phoestivus, Clark said.

Doto said the event has “a community feeling. There’s a lot of different people there, there’s carolers, good food, hot coffee and hot cocoa, and it really makes you feel like it’s the holidays.”

Clark said the event satisfies the city’s community needs and contrasted the Phoenix Public Market to CityScape and the Arizona Center.

“The core (of a city) has to happen organically, and that’s what’s happening, people are coming together and it just grows wherever that happens,” he said. “You can’t dictate an urban core. That open-air market is a larger statement about how people want to see cities grow in the future.”

This year, the Phoestivus festivities will be revamped. Core CrossFit Downtown Phoenix will be conducting the Feats of Strength holding contests and activities. In the last two years, the Airing of Grievances has consisted of pinning a piece of paper with a costumed complaint to a board. This year, the grievances will literally be “aired.” Every half-hour to an hour of both nights, the hand written phrases will be hung, displaying, ironically, a pretty sight.

“You know, we could have just done any old Christmas market, but we wanted to do something that was as unique, and interesting and quirky as Phoenicians are,” Clark said. “You have to be a little different to live in the desert, than the rest of the country, and we always want to tap into that.”

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