As summer kicks into gear, the Flagstaff Hullabaloo approaches. Since its first tent was set up five years ago, locals have flocked to Wheeler park downtown to enjoy two days of music, food, parades, performances, and a general celebration of Flagstaff in the cool forest weather- and all for a good cause the promotion and enjoyment of outdoors activities, nonprofits and local businesses.
"Like most folks in Flagstaff we have an outdoorsy focus on biking, climbing, hiking, disc golfing, and rafting. We hope to celebrate this vision and provide exposure for local nonprofits doing good things. Flagstaff Hullabaloo is committed to fostering a relaxed atmosphere. Our event is family friendly and community oriented," reads the festival's mission statement, and this commitment to the outdoor community is evident in the many vendor and advocacy booths littered throughout the festival every year. This year's proceeds go to the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra and to Grand Canyon Youth, a local non-profit that takes teens on river rafting trips in Arizona.
Beyond outdoor advocacy and awareness, the festival has something for everyone, so break out the crazy costumes and enjoy live music from Flagstaff, Phoenix and beyond. Take in some brews and tons of local flavor both literal and figurative. Let your "freak flag fly" in Saturday morning's bike parade for a raucous, hilly loop around downtown. Sunday's costume contest is so popular that local costume and novelty shops start advertising Hullabaloo specials a month in advance. The competition is stiff, but there are prizes to match, including a season pass to the Pepsi amphitheater or a new bicycle. In the afternoons, enjoy a local microbrew while listening to great music and watching for wandering performers. There are stilt walkers, jugglers, fire-breathers, trick unicycle riders, hoopers, and performers who can do several of those things at once. There's even a drum circle Sunday morning (10:30 is about as 'morning' as Flagstaff gets in the summer), embodying the best of stereotypical Flagstaff hippie fun.
The festival is kid friendly overall, but there's also an area specifically geared toward the younger set, featuring inflatable bouncy houses and castles for $1/ride and a kids' parade. Kids can also participate in their own costume contest with prizes while Mom and Dad can relax and enjoy that local microbrew.
Hullabaloo started small in 2009, as a one-day, small-scale event, similar to other craft fairs and shows throughout the summer, but its focus on outdoors awareness, community involvement, and fun Flagstaff flavor helped it take off and become an iconic part of Flagstaff's summers. It's still small by festival standards, which provides a great blend of short lines, low prices, quality entertainment and small (but bigger every year) crowds.
Now, in its fifth year, Hullabaloo is only growing. In 2013, the party extended all weekend for the first time. For 2014, they've added a second stage and more vendors and wandering performers than ever before. The new stage will feature more local talent, like Circus Bacchus, Flagstaff's local music-and-acrobat performance troupe, which has several performances scheduled throughout the weekend. When asked why Hullabaloo is so popular (so much so that the Arizona Sun has voted Hullabaloo "Best Annual Event or Festival" for the past four years), local Travis Hudson poetically described the festival as “a lively combination of decent music and hoppy beer, laid out under a lazy summer sky that seems to enhance them both.”
If all that isn’t enough reason to get excited, general admission is only $5 per entrance, thanks to sponsorships from both local and national businesses. (Yes, leaving requires a new ticket). Or support the festival with a $50 two-day VIP ticket, which includes a pass to the front of the line, four drinks per day, snacks, a free massage and VIP-only bathrooms.
See Hullaballo's website for more information, including 2014 musical lineup, a list of vendors, and more.