Arizona is still fairly new to cannabis festivals and recreational cannabis usage. I’ve taken these facts into consideration as I review the Phoenix, Arizona 2022 ‘Budsapalooza’ in Roosevelt Row.
My half glass can be half full or half empty on any given day. I’m not a serial optimist or pessimist. With all of this, I now give you my unbias review of the festival based on the 6 main highlights of their website.
Music was live and music was loud. I walked up to the front nearest to the stage in an attempt to get pictures of the crowd dancing. Getting those photos was difficult to capture while I was there, because most of the time I was there, the area closest to the stage was pretty empty. If the space was occupied, it was usually by someone not dancing…and who wants photos of that?
As the evening went on, more people gathered but as the sun left, so did the lighting on the stage. I found it challenging to photograph the lead singers and front people of the bands. Now…I don’t claim to be a superior photographer, but I can usually make things happen in low light. The front stage was close to no light though. This was very discouraging, especially because whoever put the festival together had this AWESOME lifted VIP section in the back with chairs and shit that gave me an elevated and uninterrupted view of the stage. I was SO EXCITED about the elevated platform. It wasn’t until the lights went out that I learned that it would be of no benefit to me for photos.
NONE of this means that the music was bad, because it wasn’t. The music was great actually. Around the time SupaJoint took stage, the sun had dropped and I thought people were going to wake up and start dancing. This wasn’t at all the case. I don’t want to chalk it up to stoner lock though. My theory is that one of the GREAT things about the festival was also one of the WORST things that could happen to the music area.
When I walked in, it was the first thing I noticed. What you ask? The eclectic fashions, from stoner chic to dad clothes and even a pickle suit. There was a multi-cultural, LBGTQ friendly atmosphere and balance among the attendees. An extensive age range from the youngest in strollers to the oldest with their dogs on leashes. It felt great to be in such a friendly place with cannabis smoke in the air. Especially after a couple of years of very little of this kind of stuff going on.
The ticketing section on the website mentioned “NO MINORS”…but a few babies in strollers were scattered about. There were at least a dozen dogs, maybe more, all on leashes that I noticed. People are uncomfortable dancing or crowding around babies and strollers. Even more so with pitties in the crowd, even when leashed. Nobody wants to fall on a baby, or accidentally step on and be bit by a dog when they’re dancing. Let’s at the very least get rid of the babies and the dogs in the dance area next year. Little things like this can ultimately improve the danceability square footage.
In the end GREAT MUSIC was delivered. So #1 of the claims on their site was held up.
There is absolutely room for improvement by making the concert area more dance friendly and also the lighting was an issue. I was forced to concentrate my photos on the bassists, drummers, etc. that were well lit @ the back of the stage. Not to say that these ESSENTIAL band members don’t deserve their due in photos. If anything, they’re often underrepresented in photos. So I’m going to take this moment to highlight a few of them.
During the earlier hours of the festivities, I stopped to listen to the movie going on. I looked around to see how many seats there were and remember how comfortable the spot looked.
A guy to my left asked me and my buddy Collin, “Hey…is everyone staring at a blank screen or am I just REALLY high?”
He was probably really high, but he was watching a movie viewed through a projector on a screen in midday. Not all projectors are powerful enough to display a bright enough light on a screen at 430-5pm in the afternoon or early evening.
By the time the sun went down. The screen was bright and people seemed to be enjoying themselves. Whether sat down or just stopped to wait and recite the next line of Super Troopers, Up In Smoke, and many others throughout the night.
When I read that this was going to be a thing, I had my doubts. After all, anyone can just watch these movies at home. But the atmosphere of having total strangers laugh alongside at their favorite shared moments in the movies was actually pretty magical.
So #2 of the claims on their site was held up. Stoner Movies were projected on a screen. Great atmosphere, a bit of shade over the top during the daylight hours would’ve made it perfect. I’m thinking something light and breathable like the camouflage netting used in the military would be a great option. It would allow the movie to be displayed better during day hours (and provide escape from the AZ heat) and the smoke wouldn’t get in the way of the projector since it would easily escape all the holes in the netting.
Food & Drink
Drinks were done by tickets. You buy a ticket for $5, and you could redeem that ticket from one of a couple alcohol brand vendors on the premise. Cans were cold enough, so that was nice on a hot day.
I can’t remember a water bottle vendor. A place to find COLD bottles of water would’ve been a plus.
Food prices were about what you’d expect, so nothing to brag or complain about on that. The food itself however, was a VERY PLEASANT surprise.
I hate to mention porta-potties so close to the food section…but this is exactly where some of the toilets were. Far enough from the food area though couldn’t smell them, so that was a HUGE PLUS.
Also, there were more than enough for everyone. I don’t recall seeing lines to use the facilities during the entire event. This isn’t always the case with festivals. Props for having enough proper facilities AND hand sanitizing stations.
Overall the #3 promised highlight on their website was delivered. The food was good! From a prison food vendor to flatbread pizzas and Greek options. Thumbs up!
To get to the comedy area you first had to walk by all the glass blowers to the right and away from the food then through the vendor village. It was a bit narrow, even when it wasn’t crowded.
When you got to the comedy area, there were enough seats for maybe 20-30 people? I could be lying about that…I don’t know. The setup was solid for where it was and what it was. The mic was loud enough, and that performance area was far enough away from the main stage that you could hear the comedians. They did a good job with that.
The first act I stopped to watch was a lesbian talking about the kind of guys she’d still be willing to bang. Nice. I didn’t get her name.
I made a few trips back to comedy area throughout my time. It was harder and harder to find a seat until it was impossible to find a seat. This area was more crowded than the dance floor near the stage at some points.
So #4 of the claims on their site was held up. I think the comedy section of their setup was an absolute success even without well known headliners.
As a standup comedy fan, I’m happy to see an opportunity like this afforded to comics. I think there was a missed opportunity by not having a nacho or hot dog vendor in that specific area…but that’s just an opinion from a guy that refuses to watch any movie or show without food and drink.
Lots of free samples, lots of giveaways. Not a lot of room though.
Unfortunately there weren’t any infused products or flower available. So those freebies and giveaways were like samples of what the popcorn tasted like prior to the cannabis infusion…I guess? This is in no way the fault of the organizers of the festival, it’s simply a matter of state law right now.
I think the state of Arizona at the very least could allow medical patients (if not all recreational usage) to be allowed in certain areas of a festival like this to partake/trade products like infused edibles. If sales and exchange of cash are the issue, dispensaries and vendors could donate the edibles as a way to advertise their product for medical patients. But I’m talking out my ass, I don’t know if or how that would work.
There were also t-shirts, stickers and all traditional stuff that people seem to love taking home with them. I even took a few home to slap onto my guitar.
Art, fashion, apparel, music, pipes, etc. There was enough of a selection that there was something for most stoners to have found something interesting.
So #5 of the claims on their site was held up. Would’ve liked to have had a little more room to browse and not be so crowded while browsing.
These were the first booths to your right as you walked into the festival. I didn’t even notice them when we first got there. I noticed them as I was leaving though. They’re much more impressive when it’s dark and all of the flames and glowing glass it going on.
So #6 on the website’s highlight promises was fulfilled. Making their entire list true to their word. They delivered.