GLENDALE, AZ—Residents of the Phoenix metropolitan area might have noticed an uncommonly hazy sky this past Sunday.
If not for meteorologists across the morning TV landscape attributing the occurrence to a low Air Quality Index, one might’ve considered Trap Culture’s inaugural Mangia Ganja festival a reasonable explanation for the nebulous haze that settled over the Valley of the Sun.
The cannabis community was out in full force on Sunday, when the Mangia Ganja food and music festival descended on the Phoenix Event and Entertainment Complex. In total, upwards of 5,000 attendees were on hand—all of whom presumably had little quarrel with the overcast, breezy weather.
Featuring an incredible roster of 120+ vendors and artists from all over the Valley, this year’s Mangia Ganja festival brought out cannabis lovers from all walks of life, each coming together to share an unforgettable afternoon of unity and good-natured fun.
A first-of-its-kind event, Mangia Ganja buzzed with the sights and sounds (and smells) of a spring day perfectly balanced with equal parts cannabis, food, music and art.
From the moment gates opened at 11 a.m., the venue, which is perhaps best known as the annual home of Fear Farm, was brimming with patrons, each one increasingly excited to see what treasures awaited. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first entrants into the festival moved rapidly in the direction of the cannabis vendors, all of which were ready with plenty of freebies and swag to be had.
Brands like Mad Terp Labs 22RED, and Aeriz became one of the more frequented booths of the day. Attendees waiting intently for a chance to dab some of their favorite concentrates were not disappointed.
Meanwhile, over at the OGeez! artist’s tent, a number of the Valley’s most talented artists could be found live-painting throughout the event, creating an array of pieces truly representative of the diverse, rich culture at the heart of the community.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the event was the Grow Sciences VIP lounge, where guests who had purchased a VIP pass received a limited-edition Trap Culture/Grow Sciences collaborative festival T-shirt, as well as a goodie bag that included Grow Sciences flower, gummies, and other accessories—not the least of which was a bag of chips for those in-between-food-vendor treks across the festival grounds.
Also of note, the Desert Tails Animal Shelter lent a cuddly element to the festival in the form of pet adoptions. The group brought a number of furry friends along, each in search of forever home. By day’s end, that goal was almost fully met.
Among the food options present at the festival, Dough Rider’s pizza stood out as a particularly happening spot, with no shortage of patrons waiting to get their hands on the wood-fired goodness whose palpable aroma wafted throughout the avenues of vendor booths.
Also on hand, slinging their signature “quesabirrias,” Naughty Tacos was an instant hit with festival attendees, with many seemingly as captivated by their patented taco-quesadilla hybrid as they were the birria ramen options.
A regular favorite among the cannabis circuit, YOLO’s Authentic Mexican Food was another welcome presence, serving up their signature tacos, sopes and burritos.
Meanwhile, to the east of the stage, Ice Cream Kartel’s bright yellow school bus illuminated the way to frozen treats.
As for the stage itself, it was a perfect setting for the vivacious displays of ample talent to which it would play host throughout the day.
Shortly before 2 p.m., Arizona EDM favorite Melissa Marie took the stage, immediately filling the air with her unique brand of intoxicating pop, supplemented by plenty of immaculately-executed choreography. Melissa ran through a supercharged set of hits, engaging with the audience and garnering no small measure of enthusiasm for her energetic pop sensibilities.
By 4 p.m., the task of working the crowd into a rhythm-induced dance frenzy might’ve seemed like a tall order. For a brief point in the day, the sun had managed to assert itself triumphantly over any sense of respite previously imagined, sending some fest goers scurrying for the shade.
Nevertheless, The Color 8 came ready to party, launching into a high-energy, refreshingly upbeat set that seemed to jolt the collective back into a lively vibe—one that seemed to flow as freely as the breeze that had picked up at about the same time. Front man Ashton Vaughn treated the audience to saxophone interludes in between guitarist Kal Benion’s melodic jams, while an impeccable rhythm section featuring E. Nash and “Jerm” Smith held it all down.
Among the most memorable moments, the musical portion of the festivities concluded with a very special performance by Futuristic. The crowd converged on the stage area, where the rapper, proceeded to run through some of his past hits, including crowd-favorite “I Guess I’ll Smoke.”
At one point, Futuristic jumped into the pit mid-song, mixing it up with some of the event’s attendees before returning to the stage to catch his breath.
Near the end of his performance, the rapper, who currently resides in nearby Tempe, broke some news in the form of an announcement made by his long-time DJ and hypeman, Kode Break.
“Arizona, I’m going to tell you a secret,” he said; “this is probably the last time you all are going to hear these songs.”
Kode Break continued, further explaining, “If you’ve been a fan, you’ve heard these, great; thank you for supporting this sh**, but we’re moving on to a new era soon, so this is kind of like a farewell set—kind of a secret set.”
“It’s a secret, but it’s not,” Futuristic corroborated, before Kode Break concluded by reiterating, “Just so you all know, these songs are probably getting retired soon.”
At the end of the set, fans were treated with a listening party for a new track, which indicates the “Too Easy” rapper is heading in a decidedly dancier, pop-heavy direction than that of his existing oeuvre.
From the cheerful volunteers who helped set everything up, and the upbeat, helpful staff working tirelessly to ensure the festival ran smoothly, to the artists, musicians, and all attendees, the Mangia Ganja festival truly encapsulated the best of what the cannabis community is all about.
By all indications, guests appeared to have very positive opinions of the event. Aubrey L., 24, of Glendale, who came to the event after hearing about it from a friend said “It’s just an amazing event for the entire community.”
Erik, a volunteer who helped with set up, shared his sentiments, stating “I’m stoked to be a part of this event, bringing everyone together.”
Phoenix resident Mark S., 36, echoed a sentiment of gratitude that could be heard frequently at the Trap Culture booth, emphatically shouting “Thank you for throwing such an amazing party!”
Indeed, the Mangia Ganja Festival appears to have gone off without a hitch. Aside from the sun emerging near the end of the day, even the overcast sky seemed to oblige, providing an ideal atmosphere for what may have been one of the last truly cooler-weather events to take place before the onset of the impending brutal summer heat.
Late in the afternoon, near the end of Mangia Ganja, organizer David DeCorpo was spotted near the Trap Culture booth.
Asked what he thought of the turnout, an elated DeCorpo celebrated bringing what he described as “the most entertaining cannabis festival to Arizona,” before contemplating how to improve on the event for future years. “To top this,” he smiled, shouting over the DMX remix playing between musical acts, “let’s just say it’s going to be f****** wild.”
Trap Culture’s signature cannabis friendly events will return with the third annual installment of Cannafest, scheduled to take place September 18th, 2022. Stay tuned into Trap Culture online for more information, including tickets.