At the 40th annual Tempe Festival of the Arts, which runs Friday through Sunday, you’ll come for the crafts — but will you stay for the lifestyle?
About 250,000 people are expected to peruse the artisans’ various wares, displayed in booths along downtown’s Mill Avenue. The organizers also see this as an opportunity to sell these visitors on the idea of Mill as a regular destination.
“If you want to introduce people to the area, bringing them down one at a time does not get them excited,” said Nancy Hormann, the Downtown Tempe Community’s new executive director. “If you bring them down 10,000 at a time, they catch downtown fever and they will come back again.”
This is Hormann’s first festival in Tempe, as about 10 weeks ago she took over responsibility for marketing and maintaining the Mill Avenue shopping/entertainment district.
One change she’s made is to set up a DTC information booth at the festival, where people can learn more about the area and sign up for an e-mail newsletter that will keep them informed of new events and openings.
It wasn’t too many years ago that organizers had vendors set up their tents and booths on Mills’ sidewalks — blocking the businesses’ doors.
Now, though, those booths are in the middle of the street while the permanent merchants can come outside, perhaps set up racks and tables, to better sell their goods.
As the festival is celebrating its 40th anniversary, organizers made sure the featured entertainment echoed the past.
Performing on Friday night is The Beatles tribute band Apple, named after the Fab Four’s record label founded in 1968. Beginning at 6 p.m., Apple will perform a set chronology, from “Love Me Do” to “Let It Be.”
The concert will take place on the Celebration Stage, located in the Arizona Wine Festival, just west of Mill on Seventh Street.