Review by Stephanie Rosa
Just south of Phoenix there lives a festival, which radiates positivity, love, good energy and overall wellness. Welcome to Desert Canvas. For an entire day you’re invited to try new activities, dance amongst new friends and shop under the warm Arizona sun in a family (and dog) friendly environment. Created 2 years ago by founder Todd Vanduzer, this festival is rapidly growing, and expanding into a second festival, one which involves camping.
I spent the day in Kiwanis park taking photos and observing festival goers enjoyment throughout the day. I was also able to participate in many ways by attending an awesome yoga class with about 150 other participants, and trying my hand at silks. I left feeling calm, refreshed, and with a couple extra friends.
HOW TO GET THERE
Located 12 miles southeast of Phoenix, Tempe’s Kiwanis Park holds this outdoor festival. Parking was free and there was a lot right next to the entrance of the festival. Public transit combining Phoenix’s Light Rail & bus system allows festival goers who don’t have a car to get to Kiwanis Park.
This festival, while relatively small and new, was held in a large outdoor city park. The park was plenty of room for the activities taking place. When I left in the early evening, the festival had around 300 attendees.
One of the best parts about this festival was the crowd. Diverse in age and walks of life, this festival boasted total inclusion. Beautiful strokes of outward expression were noticed amongst the crowd as many festival goers were tattooed. No matter where you went in the festival, everyone had on a smile and was ready to strike up a conversation.
There was one food stand available, with coal fired pizza from a local shop, Freak Brothers Pizza. Whole pizzas were only $10, and there was a nice menu to choose from (vegan options were also available). There was a beer garden open for anyone 21 and over.
THINGS TO DO
The best thing about the festival was the amount of activities that were available. At the festival you could:
- Take a Vinyasa yoga class with 150 other yogis
- Learn how to climb a silk rope like the aerial performers
- Attend a hula hooping workshop
- Dance to a live band
- Test your balance skills on a slackline
- Challenge other festival goers to a volleyball tournament
- Bang on some drums in the drum circles
- Be a flyer and learn some acroyoga
- Shop for some new yoga gear
- Paint your name on the beautiful RB (Rebirth) art structure
- Groove to electronic music in the evening, once the DJs begin to spin
- Make new friends
WHAT MAKES THE FESTIVAL DIFFERENT
There is something very special about small festivals. Perhaps the intimate environment makes one feel like they’re closely connected to the overall energy, or perhaps its that you are able to try just about everything that the festival has to offer. Desert Canvas was an intimate festival, full of life, color and beautiful people. The energy was great, the people were friendly and inviting, and you had enough time and space to see and do everything available.
Desert Canvas surprised me with how well thought out, well organized and versatile it was. The festival did not fall short of fun activities to participate in, or be a spectator of. I am new to the Phoenix area, and it seems like this festival is the only one of its kind.
One other important aspect of the festival that stood out to me, was that it was free to those who could not afford to attend. The festival simply required a quick explanation about your financial hardship and offered help. This goes to show the outstanding morals within the festival and its organizers.
Desert Canvas is also preparing to host a new, camping festival in the spring. More information on that festival will be available on Festival Squad once released.
OVERALL RATING – 9/10
Based on the amount of time that the festival has been alive as well as how young the organizers are, this festival deserves a 9/10 rating. As explained earlier, it was well organized, and there was more than enough to do to keep busy for the entire day. Similarly, the crowd and energy were incredible and it speaks volumes about who stands behind the Desert Canvas name.
Festival Squad encourages anyone in the Phoneix area to attend Desert Canvas’ events from here forward and would love to hear about your experience at Rebirth!
Check out our photo gallery HERE!