Rainbows Festival

By Brianna Moore, November 2019 Issue.
Photos courtesy of Phoenix Pride

The city of

Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the nation, is full of people from various

walks of life. That’s what makes it so special. It gets even better when an

event takes place that celebrates individuality. 

One of those events is the Rainbows

Festival and Street Fair. Launched in 2002, Rainbows Fest has earned the title

of “Arizona’s Greatest Street Fair” as it celebrates the diversity of the LGBTQ


The Rainbows Fest is the second largest

LGBTQ event in the entire state of Arizona, second only to the Phoenix Pride

Festival, which takes place in April. This year’s festival is expected to draw

in more than 25,000 people.

Mike Fornelli, executive director at

Phoenix Pride says that Rainbows Fest offers guests more of a smaller, street

fair vibe, as opposed to the large festival atmosphere of Phoenix Pride.

“We try to make Rainbows a little bit different and an opportunity in the

fall to offer a safe place for a big event,” says Fornelli. “We keep it more of

a street fair feel so that it doesn’t echo the same thing we do in April for

the festival. We want to make it different for everybody.”

This year, Phoenix Pride will host its 17th

annual Rainbows Fest on Nov. 2 and 3 at Heritage Square Park in downtown

Phoenix (south of Seventh and Van Buren streets). The two-day festival is free

to the public and will feature more than 150 sponsors, vendors, and exhibitors.

There will also be two stages, providing entertainment for attendees throughout

the weekend. 

“It’s kind of like going to the state fair

on an LGBTQ+ level,” says Fornelli. “It’s just a safe space for people of the

LGBTQ community to come together.”

It’s no coincidence that the Rainbows Fest

takes place shortly after LGBTQ History Month. The festival is meant to serve

as a reminder to members of the community to be proud of who they are all year


Aside from pride, one of the themes of the

Rainbows Festival is community. Rainbows Fest provides the LGBTQ community,

allies, friends, and families with an opportunity to gather and celebrate one


The street-fair style event is put on in

the fall of each year to give attendees to the space to be their authentic

selves. Mike Fornelli believes that Rainbows is so successful as an event

because of its emphasis on community.

“It’s another way to connect the community

all together,” says Fornelli. “My favorite part of the festival is just seeing

everyone come together, especially all of the entertainment from all of the

different bars.  It’s really fun to


The Rainbows Festival also provides local

business and exhibitors with a great opportunity to get their name out and

display their support for the community.

“It’s a great networking platform for

everyone who attends as well for the businesses that attend,” says Fornelli.

“Whether you’re looking for a gay-friendly business to support, or a

gay-friendly organization to become a part of.”

According to Fornelli, Phoenix Pride looks to bring in businesses and entertainment that “resonate with the community and our demographic” to the festival. Every vendor, sponsor and entertainer are openly supportive of the LGBT+ community.

“Before we sign on with a sponsor or

exhibitor,” he explained, “we make sure that they have a diversity and inclusion

policy within their business. We want to make sure that everyone that is

included does support our community and is an ally.”

The Entertainment

This year’s

Rainbows Festival will have two stages; a main and community stage. Attendees

can expect to be captivated by performances from local acts, as well as big

name acts throughout the weekend. 

Known for his larger than life persona and

voice, the glamorous and witty Prince Poppycock will grace the main stage

Saturday afternoon.

Prince Poppycock describes himself as a

“roguish operatic dandy.” He rose to fame when he made his debut on America’s

Got Talent, where he took fourth place, back in 2010. However, he’s been

singing opera since he was 11 years old.

Most recently, Prince Poppycock performed

on America’s Got Talent: Champions in January. His powerful performance

of Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” left the judges and the audience no option but

to give him a standing ovation.

America’s Got Talent judge Sharon Osbourne even dubbed Poppycock as “the male Lady


The party doesn’t stop there, though, as

Roxxxy Andrews of Ru Paul’s Drag Race will be performing on the

mainstage on Sunday afternoon. She’ll be joined by Elementals, the band.

Andrews competed in the fifth season of Drag

Race and won fourth place. She also competed in the second season of Drag

Race All Stars. Andrews set drag race history by being the first competitor

to survive the show, despite being in the bottom five times. 

There will also be entertainment from local

acts throughout the weekend as well, such as Desert City Jazz, Stacy’s Follies,

and DJ Image.

The Impact

As mentioned

before, one of the overarching themes of the Rainbows Fest is community. The

Phoenix Pride organization recognizes the power in community building and

gathering, which is why this year’s street fair is open to the entire Phoenix


For 17 years, the annual Rainbows Festival

and Street Fair has been put on by the Phoenix Pride organization to highlight

and celebrate the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. It was created as a safe

space for community members, along with their friends and families, to gather

in the name of pride and a good time.

The Phoenix Pride Organization also gives

back to the community through its Community Grants Program. This program

provides project-based financial grants in support of impactful programs that

serve the LGBTQ community in Maricopa County.

Funds generated from Phoenix Pride events

have been donated to community programs for nearly ten years. This year, the

program has given out more than $60,000.

Phoenix Pride also has a Partnership Grants

program for eligible metro Phoenix non-profit organizations that focus on the

LGBTQ+ community. Through this grants program, organizations that provide

non-beverage volunteer services at Phoenix Pride events will receive credits

that transfer into donations from Phoenix Pride.

This year, Phoenix Pride’s Partnership

Grant Program has given out about $5,000. 

For more information about the Rainbows Festival and Street Fair including scheduling and parking, visit phoenixpride.org.

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