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
“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.”
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
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.
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.