Want to go?
What: Foo Foo Fest 10th Anniversary
When: November 2-13
Where: various Pensacola locations
When visionaries gathered more than a decade ago to create an Escambia County arts festival showcasing the area’s theater, visual arts, music and more, they mulled over a potential name.
Creatives that they were, “Foo Foo Fest” emerged as the winner!
“A foo foo is a musical performance that the sailors used to do on the ships,” explained Foo Foo Fest curator Nicole Stacey. “So how wild and convenient that we’re here at the Port of Pensacola right on Escambia Bay...that’s kind of how the name came to the top.”
Ten years later, the event that began with area residents asking, “What the heck is Foo Foo Fest?” is now a go-to favorite for visitors, locals and creatives alike.
The 12-day event, held in Pensacola’s prime weather season, offers grant-funded headliners plus a whole lot more.
“The big theme for this year is Bigger, Funner, Artier,” Stacey said. “Everything is bigger for the 10 years. We had about $500,000 in grant funds to give away. So we were able to fund sixteen events, which is huge for us.”
There is so much to savor this year.
“I love the diversity of the events because I think there’s something for everyone. Some of them are free, some of them are minimal cost, some of them are higher-priced ticketed items. But it really allows for any individual to come and enjoy,” Stacey said.
While the Gulf Coast attracts big summer buzz, locals have a secret: November Gulf Coast weather is typically magical. Hotel prices are reduced. Lines are shorter. Translation: It’s the perfect time to get your Foo Foo on!
“It’s a great time of year when people can get out and enjoy the fall weather with or without kids, with or without parents and grandparents. You can just come and find something fun to do,” said Stacey. “It’s a huge series around live music, theater, art, really and truly anything that you can think of that celebrates art. Our focus is to be a welcoming community to all.”
Friends of Foo
Besides the 16 grant-funded events, a host of other entertainment takes place during the 12-day duration. Called Friends of Foo, they include they include the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival, EggFest, the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show, the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival, the Pensacola Beach Art & Wine Festival and more.
If your non-profit or for-profit has a performance or offering that would fit at Foo Foo Fest as well as a designated location, simply register it by Oct. 13 under “Friends of Foo” at foofoofest.com. It’s an opportunity Stacey hopes will showcase area talent not funded by a Foo Foo Fest grant – with top-notch marketing of their performance covered.
“We want people to kind of help us fill in any of the gaps that our grant-funded events aren’t serving,” said Stacey, explaining that visitors for a long weekend might seek out headliner events but want to fill in with other entertainment offerings.
“That’s really where the Friends of Foo events fall in place. And it’s free marketing for those businesses,” Stacey said. “They truly don’t have to do anything but… sign up and then let us take over and help and really facilitate that message that you’re another event in town to go and enjoy.”
She explained that they can help any “really fun, cool events” by promoting them this way.
A Magic Carpet Sky
In 2017, we saw an umbrella sky – if not in person on Intendencia Street, then in the thousands of social media pictures capturing the novel colorful canopy compliments of the Friends of Downtown.
Then there was Fire and Rain, a suspended billowing sea of holographic strands, also over Intendencia.
Last year, Pensacola Bubble Alley filled the sky on the heavily-walked section of Intendencia outside Angelena’s and the YMCA.
This year’s festival introduces Magic Carpet, a 10,000 square foot mosaic taking flight over Museum Plaza. Featuring 48,000 translucent rectangles in vivid colors stitched together with wire filament, the overhead eye candy is sure to once again add an extra wow factor to Foo Foo Fest.
The creation, designed by ImpactPlan Art Productions, will serve as a stunning ceiling to many of the festival’s offerings including live music, dining, fitness events, theatrical events and more.
Win-Win for Escambia County
Unlike many communities of equal size, Escambia County has a bustling arts scene boasting the “Big Five,” Stacey explained. We are home to a ballet, a symphony, art museums, theater and an orchestra. Typically, there are many more entertainment options each weekend than there is time to participate. So why not showcase that?
“Now is really the time that we bring everyone together and we say, ‘We want to celebrate the arts. We want to celebrate our culture, our entertainment,’’ she said.
“We’ve had more money to fund the grants and that results in Tourist Development Tax money, that results in more visitors, that results in more people staying in paid accommodations in Escambia County,” said Stacey. “We’re always trying to save money for the resident and bring more money in.”
Check out Foo Foo’s new website – jazzed up to celebrate the 10th anniversary.
“Everything can be found at foofoofest.com. The website has all been revamped and it looks really cool,” Stacey said.
In fact, the website is the best go-to for event information.
“Foo Foo Festival is a grant. It’s really an umbrella of all these events and more. Go to the website to learn all about the events that are happening during the 12 days. Those events are clickable so you can reach out to those event organizers for ticket information, for volunteer opportunities, for vendor information.”
Foo Foo Fest Headliners
Artisans are transforming $500,000 in Foo Foo Fest grant money into 16 creative endeavors that will be showcased throughout Escambia County Nov. 2-13. “If you’re new to the arts scene, it introduces you, but if you’re frequent to the arts scene, it reminds you of just the caliber that is here in Pensacola ... so you can come and enjoy them while also enjoying our beautiful beaches while also enjoying everything else that this community has to offer,” said Foo Foo Festival curator Nicole Stacey, who directs patrons to the clickable website for details and tickets.
Nov. 2-13: Magic Carpet,
UWF Museum Plaza, free
Magic Carpet 2023 is a vibrant 10,000 square foot mosaic of 48,000 translucent rectangles displaying over Museum Plaza for the duration of Foo Foo Fest.
Nov. 2-30: Poseidon’s Garden, Maritime Park, free
More than 300 mouth-blown spikes and orbs created by First City artisans will rise from the tidal basin by Maritime Park in tribute to our area’s rich waterways.
Nov. 2, 6 p.m.: Singing in the Street, Pensacola Museum of History, free
Presented by Choral Society of Pensacola and Pensacola Children’s Chorus. Sing along in this super-charged production merging Disney, Broadway and a flash mob.
Nov. 2, 7-10 p.m.: Xanadu Kick-Off Party, REX Theater, free
A musical review sampling starring members of the cast and crew of Xanadu followed by a meet & greet and talk back session.
Nov. 3, 8-11 p.m. and Nov. 4, noon - 11 p.m.: Night Moves Music Fest, multiple locations, VIP & general admission
The umbrella organization Night Moves presents 10-12 alternative/indie acts at an open-air festival Nov. 4 preceded by a VIP pre-show at The Handlebar Nov. 3. Additional performances listed on foofoofest.com.
Nov. 4, 2-5 p.m.: Week in the Park kickoff with Music in the Park, Veterans Memorial Park, $10 donation/$40 VIP access
Black Bird Anthem and Josh Davis kick off a week of events honoring veterans. Click on the event via foofoofest.com for more information and tickets.
Nov. 7 & 8: Rhythm & Canvas, Pensacola State College, music event is ticketed
Visual artist Scott Andresen’s works will be on display for the entirety of Foo Foo Festival; Andresen lectures, followed by a reception, Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. Grammy-winning Adonis Rose, whose music is a tool to promote social justice, will perform twice on Nov. 8.
Nov. 8 at 5, 6 & 6:30 p.m.: POP Odyssey Tour, downtown Pensacola, tickets required
A trolley tour with curated stops at each Pensacola Outdoor Project mural.
Nov. 8-12 (various times): Singeasy, Pensacola Little Theatre, tickets required
A speakeasy-inspired event featuring a blend of musical genres in a candlelit black box theater.
Nov. 9: Songs Down South, 5 p.m. food, 7:30 concert, $75 (concert only) or $125 for both
The Pensacola Opera will perform blues, show tunes, opera and more; specialty drinks and elevated Southern food will be included, all hosted by a nationally recognized drag artist.
Nov. 9, 5-7 p.m.: “The Living Museum: A Trip through Pensacola’s History,” Pensacola Museum of History, free
An interactive experience will feature diverse characters from Pensacola’s history, beginning in 1559 with the discovery of Pensacola by Don Tristan de Luna and continuing through today. Costumed actors will incorporate relics from the museum in this interactive performance.
Nov. 9-12, various times: Desperate Measures, The Gordon Community Art Center, $18 tickets
Based on Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Desperate Measures is an entertaining, witty, and fast-paced Wild West musical by PenArts.
Nov 10-12 (various times): Xanadu, presented by Dixon School of Arts and Sciences at the University of West Florida, tickets required
Xanadu will serve as an educational and fundraising tool for students at Dixon School of Arts & Sciences.
Nov. 11, 4 - 11:59 p.m.: 309 Punk Project in Old East Hill Area, free & ticketed events
A DIY street parade from 813 E. LaRua Street in Old East Hill to From the Ground Up Community Garden, 501 N Hayne St., kicks off this event. A Night on the Tracks block party with interactive games from the MESS Hall followed by free and ticketed musical events, visual arts and film screenings.
Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m.: On Broadway, Pensacola Saenger Theatre, tickets required
The Pensacola Civic Band and Broadway performer Megan Hilty team up for an evening of show tunes and musical theater.
Nov. 11, 1 p.m.: Homecoming: A Musical Celebration of History, National Naval Aviation Museum, free
The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, featuring an ensemble of 12 brass and percussion musicians, honors members of the Armed Forces in a Veteran’s Day concert.
Nov. 12, 1-5 p.m.: Jazz for Justice, Museum Plaza, free & ticketed options
Legal Services of North Florida once again presents a lineup of high-caliber New Orleans-style music. VIP experiences at Voices of Pensacola Museum available.