By Connor Dziawura
At first, frequent food festival purveyor David Tyda isn’t too keen on weighing in on the pineapple pizza debate. It doesn’t take long for him to buckle and offer his opinion.
“I grew up hating it…” he admits before adding, “…and then I had it from (the restaurant) zpizza.
“There was something about the type of ham and the pineapple, the way it all came together on a slice of zpizza. I just had that transformational moment where it was like I see things from other peoples’ perspective. I truly put myself in the other persons’ shoe who likes pineapple and ham on pizza. And now I’m one of them. Now I totally get it. And I get it quite often.”
Though Tyda’s view on the pizza topping now sits in a favorable light, he’s similarly unsure the public will take a liking to his donut preferences.
“People aren’t going to like this answer, but I cannot get enough of a French cruller,” he reveals. “I guess I’m a texture person, and the texture of a French cruller, I just love it.”
But what the heck do pizza and donuts have to do with each other? Well, Tyda is the creator of the upcoming Phoenix Pizza and Downtown Donut festivals, set back to back at Margaret T. Hance Park on Saturday, November 17, and Sunday, November 18, respectively.
Phoenix Pizza Festival
The Phoenix Pizza Festival kicks the weekend off from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 17. Tickets cost $10 online or, if they’re still available, $12 at the gate. Children ages 5 and younger are admitted free.
Tyda started the festival four years ago.
“I just had noticed there were a lot of mobile wood-fired ovens in town,” Tyda reflects. “That made me think there’s enough to build a festival around.”
The festival, as Tyda puts it, is a “hit.” Last year, there were around 4,000 attendees and 17 pizza vendors, he says. This year, he expects 17 to 20 pizza vendors, though attendance will likely cap around the same point to combat long lines.
“I mean, it makes so much sense because pizza is just one of the greatest foods ever,” Tyda says. “And there’s so many different styles of pizza. So it’s exciting to go to a pizza festival to get deep dish, a New York slice, a wood-fired pizza, pizza napoletana.”
Among the stacked cast of pizza peddlers lined up this year are Saffron JAK, Merkin Pizza Wagon, Triple Dot Food Truck, La Piazza Al Forno, Flying Saucer Pizza Truck, Kono Pizza and Smoothie Run. For affordability’s sake, each pizza vendor will have at least one option within the $2 to $4 price range. Other vendors will include The Treatery, Berrie Kabobs, Phoenix Phreeze, Lulu’s Sorbetto and more.
On the beer and wine side are Line 39, Day Owl Rosé, NMT Brewing, OHSO Brewery + Distillery, Mother Bunch Brewing and THAT Brewery. The festival will also accommodate nonalcoholic beverages.
“Craft beer and pizza are obviously the best of friends,” Tyda says. “I’m just a fan of having good wine with my pizza.”
Downtown Donut Festival
In contrast to the Phoenix Pizza Festival, its sugary dough counterpart is a new affair. This one is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, November 18. Tickets are $8 online. Children ages 5 and younger are admitted free.
Tyda’s goal was to enlist around 15 vendors, a number which has been greatly surpassed. He’s expecting the event to sell out at 3,000 guests.
“I wanted to add a second day to the pizza festival, but the pizza vendors all said, ‘Man, it’s such a hard day.’ They’re so busy. They just didn’t really have the capacity to go with second day,” Tyda explains. “I thought, well, maybe I could just change the food group, because I’m all set up at the park. Why not just book it a second day?”
Ultimately, its inspiration falls in line with that of its pizza contemporary.
“I was just noticing how many great locally owned, independent shops we have here in town,” Tyda explains of its origins. “And I thought, well, I mean it seems like there’s enough for a festival, so let’s have a festival around it.”
He adds, “More than pretty much most desserts, I just love donuts. I mean, donuts are just such a happy food. Like, you’re never depressed eating a donut. They instantly cheer up your day.”
And it goes beyond just glazed or Boston cream, he says. Lined up to appear are Krispy Kreme, BoSa Donuts, Bites Donuts, DoNut Worry, Topgolf, sweetDee’s bakeshop, Churro GoNUTZ, Pokitrition and more. Other vendors include Bully Brew Coffee, Mama’s Cold Brew, First Place Coffee, Smoothie Run, Zoyo Neighborhood Yogurt, Unbaked and SanTan Brewing Company.
“When I started the (Arizona) Taco Festival, the whole idea was that it wasn’t just authentic taquerias. It was French restaurants and Chinese restaurants and all different kinds of places deciding to do a taco on the day because the taco is such an adaptable food,” he explains. “The same thing is happening with donuts. I mean, in general it seems like everybody is so creative with the category of donuts.”
Like the pizza festival’s affordability initiative, Downtown Donut Festival vendors will have at least one $1 offering. This allows people to budget or sample more donut types, Tyda says.
“Some people will offer a full donut for a dollar and some people will offer a sample of a donut, so if it’s one of the crazy donuts that they typically sell for $3, they might only sell a half or a quarter for a dollar on that day. So they’re still getting their price and the attendees can sample around.”
A stacked weekend
Beyond the main booths, both festivals should have additional nonfood local business vendors. Tyda says there are usually around 20 10-by-10 booths.
For entertainment, there will be live music, lawn games from AZ Board Source, a sunscreen station from Mr. Pool Party and a kids’ zone that includes children’s crafts and a bouncy house.
“There will be different crafts and a tent so kids can sort of make their own donut with construction paper and different toppings and glue,” Tyda explains of the donut festival. On the pizza festival, he continues, “They take paper plates and they’ll color them red and then they’ll add shavings that looked like cheese on it and then they’ll add little pepperonis and sort of make their pizza.”
But the cherry – or perhaps pepperoni, in the case of pizza – on top is that Tyda is using the events to support Downtown Phoenix. A portion of proceeds goes to Downtown Phoenix Inc., which has promoted the revitalization of Downtown Phoenix since its inception in 2013.
“I’ve just known some staff members from Downtown Phoenix Inc. for years and they just do amazing work,” Tyda says. “They promote locally owned small business. They support events downtown. They run the ambassadors in Downtown Phoenix … They do really great work, and since I’m at Hance Park, which is in Downtown Phoenix, it seemed like a natural fit that I would work with them as my charity beneficiary.”
Phoenix Pizza Festival, Margaret T. Hance Park, 1201 N. Third Street, Phoenix, phoenix.pizza, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 17, $10 online, $12 at the gate, free for kids ages 5 and younger.
Downtown Donut Festival, Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 N. Third Street, Phoenix, downtowndonutfest.com, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, November 18, $8 online, free for kids ages 5 and younger.