More than 8,000 people showed up to partake in the fun and frivolity of last year’s Fourth Annual Flagstaff Hullabaloo.
The crowds shuffled in and out of Wheeler Park in the city’s downtown over the course of the weekend to attend the community festival.
They rode their bikes down city streets in a free-for-all parade to start the day, interacted with larger-than-life puppets and sampled local craft beers in the afternoon.
Among the long list of musical acts that performed: Tucson’s Chicha Dust, the post-rock group El Ten Eleven from California and the Grammy-winning Latin funk band Grupo Fantasma.
Many attendees dressed up — as colorful superheroes, cartoon characters, farm animals — as part of separate children and adult costume contests.
“In Flagstaff, you don’t really need to give people an excuse to dress up,” said fest director Matthew Ziegler. “They love it. It almost felt like Halloween with the amount of people participating.”
The event has become a fan favorite in Northern Arizona, with a reputation that Ziegler and his team hope to reproduce here.
The inaugural Tucson Hullabaloo will take place Saturday and Sunday at Armory Park downtown.
The festival will live and breathe in the same vein as the Flagstaff Hullabaloo.
There will be food and beer. There will be live music. There will be giant puppets courtesy of the Living Folklore, a performing arts group out of Prescott.
Ziegler said the Old Pueblo was an easy choice for a second staging of the event.
“Tucson has some similarities to Flagstaff as far as it being a very progressive town, with a hip population,” he said.
Flagstaff Hullabaloo doesn’t take place until June, when the weather is warmer.
He added, “People in Tucson like things that are sort of funky and different. Phoenix has come along in that arena, but it is still more mainstream.”
Ziegler helped launch the first Flagstaff Hullabaloo in 2010.
The goal wasn’t for it to be a music festival, although music has always played a significant role.
Ziegler’s day job is as a concert promoter for his own company, Greenhouse Productions.
Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta headlined the first Flagstaff Hullabaloo. Tucson’s musical lineup this weekend includes the Dry River Yacht Club, Jimmy Carr & The Awkward Moments, electronic dance musician Michal Menert and hip-hop duo Zion I.
For Hullabaloo, Ziegler and his planning partners wanted an event that reflected the community. Tucson Hullabaloo will feature mostly local artists, circus arts groups, folklórico performers and others.
will be represented in booths throughout the park. The event is being held in conjunction with the Living Streets Alliance’s Cyclovia, a bike party that for the past several years has stretched from Armory Park to South Tucson.
There’s a strong focus on family activities, especially during the day. A large children’s play area will include inflatable bounce houses, bungee trampolines and climbing walls.
“If I can bring my kid and there is something for her to do and something for me to do, it is win-win,” said Ziegler, 40. “There are a lot of parents out there in the same boat.”
The out-of-town headliners, Michal Menert and Zion I — artists meant to appeal to college kids — don’t appear until the evening.
“We hold Flagstaff Hullabaloo in the summer when school is out and the college students are gone,” Ziegler said. “This will be new for us.”
Ziegler said, if all goes well, this weekend’s festivities could easily lead to future Hullabaloos in Tucson and elsewhere.
“This is the first time that we’ve done it anywhere other than Flagstaff,” he said. “We’ll learn a lot about whether it is something that only works in our town or something that we can bring to other places.”