PHOENIX — In a park that is usually near-empty, tents from local restaurants, breweries and shops lined the grass as hundreds of Valley locals swarmed for Local First Arizona’s 13th annual Arizona Fall Fest on Saturday, an event that exclusively showcased state-owned businesses.
Dogs were let off leashes to run around in open areas, people were sprawled out on the grass and local businesses featured their products for passersby at Margaret T. Hance Park in downtown Phoenix.
“What you invest in the community, you get right back,” said Timothy Fullerton with local bakery Urban Cookies Bakeshop. “(Our owners) have really seen how this community builds up a company.”
The festival, located near Moreland Street between 1st and 3rd streets, was free to attend and featured more than 200 vendors this year, all representing locally owned businesses, restaurants and breweries.
“The Arizona Fall Fest is all about celebration, connection, and discovery,” Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, said in a statement. “We want Arizonans to feel connected to the local businesses in their communities, and we want local businesses to feel supported by their neighbors.”
Neighborly support was especially evident with Vintage Suds Soapery, owned by local soaper Joanna Couch.
“We try to source everything we can locally,” said Darren Couch, Joanna’s husband, “Arizona Soap Supply has been phenomenal to us. My wife is teaching classes there now as well.”
Attendees seemed to be familiar with many of the businesses, but some locals approached the event ready to branch out.
“This is my second year attending this festival,” said Phoenix local Ciara Holverson. “I am so excited to head over to the line of food trucks and try something new.”
Arizona Fall Fest, formerly known as the Certified Local Fall Festival until its renaming this year, now focuses on highlighting all state-based businesses instead of those exclusively in Phoenix.
“We realized that our annual festival has grown into a true representation of some of the best things that the entire state of Arizona has to offer,” said Lanning in a statement. “We wanted the name to reflect that evolution.”