Why We Live on the Coast | Pensacola Foo Foo Fest 

Food, Music, Culture, and Fun…

Written by Morgan Cole

Foo Foo Fest – After the success of last year’s festival of the same name, everyone surely knows by now. If not, you’re probably thinking, what’s up with the funny name?

There is actually a specific cultural meaning behind the term “Foo Foo.” During the late 19th Century, sailing vessel crew members gathered to create impromptu musical bands, thus creating a “Foo-Foo” and now the festival reflects the modern version of this definition.

Pensacola’s Foo Foo Festival (Foo Foo Fest) is a 12-day celebration of culturally creative happenings, held the first weekend in November each year all underneath one banner attracting tourists and residents alike. Foo Foo Fest encompasses other local festivals such as the Frank Brown International Songwriters FestivalGreat Gulfcoast Arts Festival and the Pensacola Marathon.

The brainchild of Arts, Culture, and Entertainment (ACE), Inc., had a vision about creating ways to highlight the area’s rich cultural history through a grant-funded effort with the city and local arts and cultural organizations.

This time of year is off-season, and the idea of Foo Foo Fest was to attract tourists to the area by offering a multitude of culturally diverse events sandwiched between larger well-known events. Foo Foo Fest has surely had an impact on our local economy by inviting tourists to “vacation artfully” in the Pensacola area during the cooler months to experience events of high artistic and cultural caliber, delivered with a hefty dose of Southern sophistication.

This year’s Foo Foo Fest included many different art forms across different cultures. Events spanned genres such as dance, music, patriotic, sports, theater, visual arts, and artist talks, as well as already established events, throughout the city of Pensacola, Fla.

In keeping with the celebration of cultures, the festival kicked-off with a Day of the Dead celebration on November 3, 2017. For fans of Salvador Dali, soulful blues, or the U.S. Navy, this year’s series of events surely had something for everyone to enjoy.

Many of Pensacola’s peer and aspirant cities, like St. Augustine, Asheville and more, attract millions of cultural tourists each year. Smart marketing, an existing infrastructure, and partnership on the local level drive this strong industry.

When the chamber of commerce separated from its tourism development arm to form Visit Pensacola, organizations like Artel Gallery, Ballet Pensacola, Frank Brown Foundation, Pensacola Little Theatre, Pensacola Museum of Art and Pensacola Sports Association received 100 percent funding for the facilitation of an event.

In 2015, the grant structure was changed slightly to fund 85 percent of the event costs, in order to ensure that organizations have some existing funding to pledge. Each year, more and more individuals applying for grant funding to participate, helping to ensure ensuring an event diversity.

The grant process is relatively easy, with a one-page application, cover page, and event budget. Individuals were also invited to submit their other events for consideration. No funding was provided, but they still had an opportunity to have their event listed alongside the Foo Foo platform as part of festival happenings line-up.

Although this year’s event has come to a close, it’s not too early to begin planning for next year’s Foo Foo Fest! It’s sure to be packed with the same eclectic and exciting mix of culture and entertainment you won’t want to miss.

Mark your calendar for Foo Foo Fest 2018, and begin planning a different kind of fall get-a-way for you to enjoy! Coastal Lifestyle Magazine Staffers attended a multitude of festival events to capture some of our favorite moments and highlights from this year’s Foo Foo Fest for you to enjoy!

For more information on Foo Foo Fest and this year’s grant recipients, visit foofoofest.org.