For over 44 years, the Fourth Avenue Street Fair has been taking local to the streets. The spring fair will be happening this weekend, Friday March 21st - Sunday March 23rd from 10:00.am - 4:00 p.m. along 4th Avenue between University and 9th street. The fair brings together 400+ arts/crafts booths, 35+ food vendors, entertainment stages, street performers, kids' art area, and more.
“We just wish we had more space so we could include even more vendors,” says Kurt Tallis, Marketing Events Director for the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. “Every year we have to turn hundreds of vendors away.” The fair also supports several nonprofits including Ben’s Bells, Tucson Children’s Museum, KXCI and several more in addition to the nearby neighborhood associations.
The Fourth Avenue Street Fair began in 1970 when Fourth Avenue merchants put tables in front of their stores to attract customers before the holidays. Today it has become one of the premier street fairs in the nation, drawing crowds of 200,000 to 350,000. “People look forward to the fairs every year,” says Kurt. “It marks the rite of passage from winter into spring. The great thing about the festival is that it is a shared community experience.”
The Fourth Avenue Merchants Association (FAMA) organizes and manages the fair twice a year in both the spring and the winter. FAMA is the nonprofit organization dedicated to growth and development of the businesses and communities in the Fourth Avenue area. The Street Fair brings in thousands of dollars in city taxes, even more in local business income and provides the revenue FAMA uses to help maintain Fourth Avenue throughout the year. Trees along Fourth Avenue, the benches, the trash cans, the sidewalk cleaning, extra security, planters and flowers and Winsett Performance Stage maintenance and much more, are all paid for by FAMA. “The Fourth Avenue area is a unique destination space that is an important economic driver for Tucson," says Kurt. "It serves as both an invaluable resource for local residents and an enormous draw for tourists. It’s an area people seek out when they visit our city.”
There are close to one hundred locally owned, independent businesses in the Fourth Avenue Shopping District including Local First AZ members Antigone Books, Cafe Passe, The Hopyard, The Book Stop, Barb's Frame of Mind, Tucson Thrift, Rustic Candle Company, Sea of Glass, United Fire Equipment, Che's Lounge, Food Conspiracy Co-op, Pop-Cycle, Caruso's Italian Restaurant, Chocolate Iguana and Delectables Restaurant & Catering. The fair even helps gain attention for organizations like Fluxx Studio just east of Fourth Avenue. "People wander by and stop in," comments Fluxx director, Dante Celeiro. "We are a multi-functional space that hosts exhibitions, performance art, movie screenings and special events. It's fun to introduce the space to a new audience and let people know we're a great resource for downtown events."
FAMA's Kurt Tallis, encourages everyone to come down and enjoy the fair, but wants to remind people to please leave their pets at home. “With the crowds, it’s not a safe space for pets. We all love animals at FAMA and we hate to see it when they get hurt at the fair. For the safety of your animals, please leave them at home while you are enjoying the fair.”