One of the best things that Fort Lauderdale is know for is its beach. There is no denying that. The love of sun and sand and water is what brings many to the area. Add the fact that Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors and other very LGBTQ+ inhabited, friendly, and supportive cities make up the Greater Fort Lauderdale Area adds to the attraction.
For those of us that live here, and for those that come to the gay capital of southern Florida, one group has added to the local gay festivities that all of us are not only enjoying, but benefitting from.
The Beginning of FlockFest
It all started in 2014 when Steven Crawford invited some friends to the beach. “I contacted a bunch of friends for a fun time at the beach, told them to bring swan floats and be prepared for a great time”, Crawford shares. And that is how FlockFest was born.
That first gathering was just a small group of 60 people and 30 floats. Now the event has grown to over 500 floats, 400 VIPs, and several thousand more attendees that participate outside in the event area on the beach.
The following gallery is of Flockfest Beach Party 2022 (July) (Pictures courtesy of Keans Llamera Photography) where the group celebrated a new partnership with Andrew Christian.
The Flock Spreads Its Wings
As it grew each year, FlockFest became a great way to raise money for charitable organizations and in 2017, it started to raise money for charities. This is still the main purpose and now the group has grown to have more additional events around the year.
In 2020, the group added a flagship partnership with a local restaurant/hot spot Bar Rita to create a weekly event called, ‘Pride Mondays’. This soon expanded to ‘Wednesday Fla-Mingle’ at Tatts and Tacos in Oakland Park.
Helping the Community
FlockFest, more specifically, beyond the events, is a strategic non-profit fundraising foundation that partners with other non-profits for transformational change. It plans, manages, and promotes non-profit events that achieve fundraising goals and promotes its mission to positively impact the community. FlockFest also helps other nonprofits promote their events by “co-hosting” events with the goal to raise as much money as possible for the charity. With this model of fundraising, Flock Fest brings new meaning to the idea of Eat, Drink, and Be Charitable!
In 2018 and 2019, FlockFest raised $16,000 respectively. In 2020 “we had to cancel the event, in fact it was my first vote on the board and it was devastating”, said Ryan Young, VP of Programming. He added, “but we were able to raise $19,600 in 2020 with the restaurant parties. The generosity of Bar Rita raised $10k and $2k with Tatts and Tacos!” At the Santa Sip n Strut they raised $3.5k in toys and cash and another $4k in giveaways, prizes and private donations with the amazing outpouring of support from our business partners, the community and private donors.
The Strut Must Go On!
FlockFest worked on the Santa Sip n Strut event which originally started as a “bar crawl” in 2016 by the Rumors bar. The bar crawl worked its way down “The Drive” from Rumors to Hunter’s Nightclub. FlockFest acquired the event and kept it alive after Rumors closed in 2018.
In 2020 the Santa Sip n Strut almost didn’t happen because of COVID. Young explained, “We decided to do a what I called a ‘shelter in place’ version of the strut. Patrons could go to their favorite bar or restaurant and safely get a table after donating a toy at an outdoor location. We also had people just come by to donate toys!
Together with the Pride Center with whom it partnered for the Judy Shepherd toy drive, FlockFest collected $3,500 worth of toys and another $500 for the Undercover Santa toy drive.
The following gallery is a sample of images from the event’s Facebook page.
The Flock Troop Stands Out From The Crowd
FlockFest has also participated in local Pride events with its members gathering for a balloon blow up pre-party each year that is “as much fun as Pride!” Steven added, “We’ve also had a signature look in several local Pride parades with ‘Flockers’ walking in balloon backpacks and ‘FlockWear’ cheering on the crowd, dancing and engaging with spectators”. Ryan added, “The FlockTroop changes the color scheme each time and was so popular at Stonewall and Pride Fort Lauderdale’s inaugural march in 2018 that we won awards.”
FlockFest: The More the Merrier
FlockFest has added smaller events leading up to the main beach party. So far they have been VIP ticket holders and sponsor appreciation events. The interest has been so great that they are looking to add events that will be open to the general public with a ticket purchase. Money raised from these events will bring even greater support to the FlockFest charities.
The informal beach event was founded with the aim to do something fun and different. Now FlockFest is looking toward growing FlockFest and partnering with a wide variety of charitable organizations and businesses that work to create social justice and equality for all. Its events often have no admission fee and are great opportunities for like-minded people and community members to socialize and network in an informal and family friendly environment.
FlockFest has a goal to help promote and elevate partners and sponsors as they join the FlockFest family and in turn help do the same for FlockFest. According to Crawford, FlockFest’s partners are not shy about sharing the sentiment that “we are all stronger together, supporting each other and raising each other up.” Young, who is pivotal in the organization and promotion of FlockFest events shares that “it takes communication and coordination but it’s all doable. We stay organized and focus on having fun and supporting each other…and charity.”
Labor Day Fun!
The next big event will be for Labor Day in just a few weeks. It’s not too late to get down here and see What the Flock is going on.
SPLASH Pool Party presented by AHF
FlockFest and Pride Fort Lauderdale proudly present “SPLASH” Pool Party T-Dance Sunday, September 4th, 12-5pm featuring Dj Alex Ferbeyre. The rooftop pool is located on the -floor overlooking downtown Fort Lauderdale.
For more information on this and future events, keep an eye on www.flockfestevents.org