Phoestivus returns to downtown Phoenix this month, complete with an exclusive ale, an eclectic mix of food vendors, and Hipster Santa ready to hear all about your foodie wish list. The popular holiday market was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, but organizers expect a robust comeback this year on Wednesday and Thursday, December 15 and 16.
“We’re excited to be back,” says Tanya Chakravarty, executive director for Community Food Connections, a nonprofit that works to strengthen the local food system. “This is our major fundraiser, and helps us raise about $30,000 for our work in the community.”
The Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market, first held in 2005, is one of the group’s key initiatives.
More than 150 small businesses are participating in this year’s event, which happens from 5 to 10 p.m. both days at 721 North Central Avenue. That's where the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market currently takes place on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“Phoestivus is a great way to support local farmers and businesses,” Chakravarty says of the holiday festival, which is modeled after Germany’s renowned Weihnachtmärkte.
The annual tradition first launched in 2009, after Ken Clark with Community Food Connections drew inspiration from an episode of the '90s sitcom Seinfeld. Characters on the show celebrated Festivus, a holiday rooted in one of the writer’s own family traditions, with offbeat activities like the Airing of Grievances and performing Feats of Strength.
Naturally, those activities are part of Phoestivus, where organizers have added their own traditions, like Hipster Santa, who forgoes the red velvet suit and long, grey beard in favor of trendier garb. The event includes live music, and other entertainment. Admission is free, but donations to Community Food Connections will be accepted at the entry points.
It’s helpful to know a bit about the layout for the festival before you go. It’s happening between Central Avenue and First Street, from McKinley to Pierce streets. Both the northeast and southeast entrances are located off of First Street, which is transformed into Dogtopia Lane for the duration of the event.
You’ll find an information booth and merchandise near both entrances, where you can make a donation if you'd like to support Community Food Connections' work.
Look for the Phoestivus Pole near the southeast entrance and Pheats of Strength by the northeast entrance. Both the Airing of Grievances and Hipster Santa are situated along Pierce Street. Everything else happens within a four-square grid, where it’s easy to find the dining area with stage, food trucks, vendors, and other highlights.
The lineup includes over a dozen food trucks, with offerings that include barbecue, pretzels, tacos, sushi, and more. More than 65 food and drink vendors will be selling everything from chocolate to chickpeas. Coffee, tea, beer, cocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks are all part of the mix.
Phoenix Beer Co. brewed the exclusive Phoestivus beer, and you’ll also have the chance to taste seasonal selections from Greenhouse Brewing, Wild Tonic, and Wren House.
Additional vendors specialize in arts and crafts, clothing and accessories, health and wellness, home goods, literary and paper goods, and pet supplies and treats.
“The market has really grown and evolved through the years,” says Chakravarty. “It’s a wonderful way for the community to gather and really make a difference together.”