There’s no better destination for getting creatively inspired than Pensacola’s Foo Foo Fest
Words by Paige Townley
There’s a unique draw to Pensacola. That draw partly comes from its coastal location and miles and miles of sugar white sand beaches—pristine beaches that have been ranked among the best in the nation—but the appeal of this Florida Panhandle town runs much deeper. It’s in the 500-plus year history that can be explored here. It’s in the delicious culinary offerings that can be enjoyed here. And it’s in the uniquely creative culture that is waiting to be discovered here. No event showcases the opportunities for creative exploration across Pensacola quite like Foo Foo Fest.
Foo Foo Fest is a 12-day celebration all about creativity and culture on the Pensacola coast. The annual event held every November was literally born from the idea of a spontaneous group coming together (Foo Foo by definition is an impromptu musical band known to come together on late 19th-century ships consisting of members of its crew). Now celebrating its eighth year this year, Foo Foo Fest brings together the vast array of arts and culture organizations found within the city to create a truly unique two-week event that overflows with creativity and encourages visitors to enjoy Pensacola’s sugar-white shoreline while also rejuvenating their spirits with exploration of it all. “November is the secret season for our beaches,” says Maria Goldberg, Chair of Foo Foo Fest. “The weather is fantastic, it’s still warm, and it’s not as crowded as the peak summertime. It’s also festival time in Pensacola. Foo Foo Fest kicks off many of the art seasons in the area and accentuates this truly special time in our city.”
The Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival kicks off the first weekend of Foo Foo Fest, which is being held Thursday, November 3 through Monday, November 14. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival is hosting a special concert as part of Foo Foo Fest at the Amphitheater at Pensacola Maritime Park. Other musical highlights to be held over the course of the festival include Jazz for Justice, an annual jazz event not only highlights local jazz talent but also jazz musicians from around the country, Jazz Pensacola, and two staples in the local arts community, the Choral Society of Pensacola and Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. While that’s just a few of the musical arts to be enjoyed over the two weeks, it’s also just a glimpse into the vast array of offerings. Theater and visual performances will be well represented thanks to organizations such as Pensacola Little Theatre and Pensacola Opera. The Pensacola Museum of Art—which always offers exhibits and shows any time of year—is hosting a special exhibit for Foo Foo Fest entitled Vandals to Vanguards: Seven Days of Street Art, which will feature masterpieces from well-known artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Keith Haring along with pieces from current notorious street artists like Banksy and Mr. Brainwash.
Adding to the excitement of this year’s Foo Foo Fest is the planned art installation by Friends of Downtown, a nonprofit extension of the Pensacola Downtown Improvement Board. The organization will be installing Bubble Alley in downtown Pensacola, an art installation reminiscent of Umbrella Sky from a few years ago, which was a major hit during the festival and is requested to be brought back practically every year. All of these events are in addition to the many other events in the official lineup and the Friends of Foo, businesses that are hosting all sorts of events, special menus, and so much more to take part in this truly special time in Pensacola. And while each event going on during Foo Foo Fest certainly differs heavily, the mission of each and every one is the same: to share all of the culture and creativity Pensacola has to offer with festival-goers and beach lovers alike, reminding all that there’s no better place to get creatively coastal than Pensacola. “This event has grown so much over eight years, and we’re really proud of it and want to share it with as many people as possible,” Maria says. “There’s an awesome culture waiting to be explored here, whether it be historical, visual art, performing art, musical—you name it—and it’s all within a beautiful destination. Pensacola has it all.”