Five Must-Attend Events at the Fifth Annual Grand Avenue Festival in Phoenix

Every year as the weather cools, Phoenicians take to the streets across the city. After a sweltering and seemingly endless summer, the city rustles itself awake with the promise of art walks, food trucks, vendors, live music, performance art, people-watching, and festival shenanigans.

The Grand Avenue Festival is no exception. Now in its fifth year, the vibrant, daylong street (er, avenue) fair is hosted by the Grand Avenue Merchants Association and highlights lower Grand Avenue, loosely bookended by 7th and 16th avenues. Expect shows from local artists and designers and after-hours parties at the neighborhood's anchoring businesses, including Bragg's Pie Factory, Bikini Lounge, and the Oasis on Grand.

Here are five don't-miss events to help you navigate your way through everything Phoenix's favorite diagonal thoroughfare has to offer this Saturday.

See also: Call to Artists: Grand Avenue Festival Seeks Recycled Art

ReDapt Historic Commercial Building Tours The festival's popular ReDapt Historic Commercial Building Tours are a chance to take a closer look at a selection of core real estate and see just how far the strip has come.

Led by local historians and sponsored by the Phoenix Revitalization Corporation, the two-hour walking tours underscore three neighborhood mainstays. The free tours leave every hour on the hour from 9 a.m. until noon at the historic OS Stapley Hardware Store building at 747 Grand Avenue.

Built in 1917, the OS Stapley Hardware Store has recently undergone a $2 million restoration, which visitors will get to explore inside and out. The tour continues, dropping by what once was the original Phoenix Motor Company (then housed in a brick warehouse built in 1947), and ends at the Fushicho Daiko Doja Drum and Karate Studio, which has taken up residence in a 1950s storefront.

"Segunda Vida" at the Frontal Lobe Gallery Re-adaptation is in Grand Avenue's roots, and in keeping with that theme, Calaca's 9th Annual Dia de los Muertos celebration features contemporary pieces using repurposed materials. The group show, titled "Segunda Vida," or "Second Life," is not only an artistic collaboration but also a cultural one, facilitating a new look at the age-old Mexican practice of connecting with the dead through gifts and left possessions. Participating artists include El Vaquero Muerto, Kathy Cano-Murillo and Patrick Murillo, and Annette Sexton-Ruiz.

The exhibition is held at the Frontal Lobe Gallery inside Bragg's Pie Factory, 1301 West Grand Avenue, and is open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. It will remain on display through Friday, October 25.

No Festival Required in the Bragg's Parking Lot After sunset, the parking lot at Bragg's Pie Factory turns into a free walk-up movie theater featuring two films, with projections courtesy of No Festival Required.

The first, Best of the Rural Route Film Festival: Shorts Edition, (6:30 to 8 p.m.) is a compilation of thirteen films from the first five years of the Rural Route Film Festival, an annual screening event based out of New York City.

The featured shorts are followed by the 2008 documentary Tokyo is Dreaming (8:15 to 9:30 p.m.), directed by Peter Chang with a score by John Covertino of Tucson-based band Calexico. The 68-minute piece depicts modern life in the capital city while crosscutting images of nationalist rallies and military newsreels, creating an eerie and unsettling look at existence.

Untrashed Recycled Rubbish Fashion Show and Trashy Hat Promenade It doesn't take an aspiring Lagerfeld to know how challenging designing an outfit can be. Anyone who's seen an episode of Project Runway or created his or her own Halloween costume can sympathize. Yet year after year, one community fashion show raises the stakes, calling for fashion-forward creatives to not just create their pieces but re-create them. Out of trash.

Led by performance artist Babs A'Delic, the Untrashed Recycled Rubbish Fashion Show is an open-to-the-public opportunity showcasing a different area of found art. This year, the crowd-pleasing event is coupled with the Trashy Hat Promenade, and everyone is encouraged to participate -- so long as the designs are entirely adapted from recovered and recycled materials.

It's a concept that conjures up images of the Derelicte fashion show from Zoolander, but the implementation is far more promising. Past outfits have incorporated everything from toilet paper rolls to beer cans to literal street garbage, giving the term "trashy" a whole new meaning.

The runway show starts at 3:30 p.m. at Bragg's Pie Factory, 1301 West Grand Avenue. Registration for designers is at 1:30 p.m.

The Rolling Rubbish Revival Show / Hanging Gardens & Woven Fences We're sensing a theme here, but if anyone is an authority on rebirth and reinvention by making what's old new again, it's the folks on Grand Avenue. For those less interested in ready-to-wear recycling, enter the Rolling Rubbish Revival Show and its trashy sculpture counterpart.

For Phoenicians with green thumbs, the quirky Rolling Rubbish Revival Show features created gardens -- either literal or fantastical -- on rolling bases such as old skateboards, shopping carts or wagons. Those without the garden-variety transportation can still participate in the Hanging Gardens & Woven Fences & Trashy Sculpture, Oh My! show, a public display of repurposed materials surrounding the trees and interlinked along the fences lining the avenue.

Those who would rather peruse than participate can pick up a map at the info booth outside the Oasis on Grand (on the corner of 15th Avenue and Roosevelt Street) for a complete guide to finding these funky urban gardens throughout lower Grand Avenue.

The 5th Annual Grand Avenue Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, October 19, along lower Grand Avenue between 7th and 16th avenues in Downtown Phoenix. Admission and parking are free.

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Janessa is a native Phoenician. She joined New Times as a contributor in 2013. You can connect with her on social media at @janessahilliard, and she promises you'll find no pictures of cats on her Instagram — but plenty of cocktails.
Contact: Janessa Hilliard