The Phoenix Pizza Festival

The Phoenix Pizza Festival this Saturday has about 17 pizza vendor with enough variations on this sacred dish that you’re likely to run out of tummy room to sample them all.

At first, frequent food festival purveyor David Tyda isn’t too keen on weighing in on the pineapple pizza debate. It doesn’t take long for him to buckle and offer his opinion.

“I grew up hating it…” he admits before adding, “… and then I had it from (the restaurant) zpizza.

“There was something about the type of ham and the pineapple, the way it all came together on a slice of zpizza. I just had that transformational moment where it was like I see things from other peoples’ perspective. I truly put myself in the other person’s shoe who likes pineapple and ham on pizza. And now I’m one of them. Now I totally get it. And I get it quite often.”

Though Tyda’s view on the pizza topping now sits in a favorable light, he’s similarly unsure the public will take a liking to his donut preferences.

“People aren’t going to like this answer, but I cannot get enough of a French cruller,” he reveals. “I guess I’m a texture person, and the texture of a French cruller, I just love it.”

But what the heck do pizza and donuts have to do with each other? Well, Tyda is the creator of the upcoming Phoenix Pizza and Downtown Donut festivals, set back to back at Margaret T. Hance Park on Saturday, Nov. 17, and Sunday, Nov. 18, respectively.

Phoenix Pizza Festival

The Phoenix Pizza Festival kicks the weekend off from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17. Tickets cost $10 online or, if they’re still available, $12 at the gate. Children ages 5 and younger are admitted free.

Tyda started the festival four years ago.

“I just had noticed there were a lot of mobile wood-fired ovens in town,” Tyda reflects. “That made me think there’s enough to build a festival around.”

The festival, as Tyda puts it, is a “hit.” Last year, there were around 4,000 attendees and 17 pizza vendors, he says. This year, he expects 17 to 20 pizza vendors, though attendance will likely cap around the same point to combat long lines.

Among the stacked cast of pizza peddlers lined up this year are Saffron JAK, Merkin Pizza Wagon, Triple Dot Food Truck, La Piazza Al Forno, Flying Saucer Pizza Truck, Kono Pizza and Smoothie Run. For affordability’s sake, each pizza vendor will have at least one option within the $2 to $4 price range. Other vendors will include The Treatery, Berrie Kabobs, Phoenix Phreeze, Lulu’s Sorbetto and more.

On the beer and wine side are Line 39, Day Owl Rosé, NMT Brewing, OHSO Brewery + Distillery, Mother Bunch Brewing and THAT Brewery. The festival will also accommodate nonalcoholic beverages.

Downtown Donut Festival

In contrast to the Phoenix Pizza Festival, its sugary dough counterpart is a new affair. This one is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18. Tickets are $8 online. Children ages 5 and younger are admitted free.

Tyda’s goal was to enlist around 15 vendors, a number which has been greatly surpassed. He’s expecting the event to sell out at 3,000 guests.

Ultimately, its inspiration falls in line with that of its pizza contemporary.

“I was just noticing how many great locally-owned, independent shops we have here in town,” Tyda explains of its origins. “And I thought, well, I mean it seems like there’s enough for a festival, so let’s have a festival around it.”

It goes beyond just glazed or Boston cream, he says. Lined up to appear are Krispy Kreme, BoSa Donuts, Bites Donuts, DoNut Worry, Topgolf, sweetDee’s bakeshop, Churro GoNUTZ, Pokitrition and more. Other vendors include Bully Brew Coffee, Mama’s Cold Brew, First Place Coffee, Smoothie Run, Zoyo Neighborhood Yogurt, Unbaked and SanTan Brewing Company.

Like the pizza festival’s affordability initiative, Downtown Donut Festival vendors will have at least one $1 offering. This allows people to budget or sample more donut types, Tyda says.

A stacked weekend

Beyond the main booths, both festivals should have additional nonfood local business vendors. Tyda says there are usually around 20 10-by-10 booths.

For entertainment, there will be live music, lawn games from AZ Board Source, a sunscreen station from Mr. Pool Party and a kids’ zone that includes children’s crafts and a bouncy house.

“There will be different crafts and a tent so kids can sort of make their own donut with construction paper and different toppings and glue,” Tyda explains of the donut festival.

On the pizza festival, he continues, “They take paper plates and they’ll color them red and then they’ll add shavings that looked like cheese on it and then they’ll add little pepperonis and sort of make their pizza.”

Phoenix Pizza Festival, Margaret T. Hance Park, 1201 N. Third St., Phoenix, phoenix.pizza, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, $10 online, $12 at the gate, free for kids ages 5 and younger.

Downtown Donut Festival, Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 N. Third St., Phoenix, downtowndonutfest.com, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, $8 online, free for kids ages 5 and younger.

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