Living in Tucson is like being with a really fun schizophrenic. There are days where it can get well into freezing temperatures, then, of course, you have our famous summers that easily exceed the 100+ range for days, weeks, nay!, months!, before calming down and becoming one of the most temperate cities in the country, nay!, world!
The weekend weather Tucson provided for the Brain Freeze Ice Cream Festival was a bit of a preview of what summer has in store for us. It was easily in the mid-90s with a warm dry breeze providing somewhat of a break from the beating sun. But as I type this, a day later, its cloudy and maybe in the high 70s. Oh Tucson. I love you but you drive me crazy sometimes.
But can it be considered an ice cream fest if you didn't have the sweet treat dripping down your arm as you make your way through the crowds in order to try ALL of the delicious goodness provided? I procliam that it is not!
Even though the samples were served in cups. Sooooo...theres that.
Regardless! I was happy to get the invite from Blue River Productions to attend on press credentials, so I packed up my trusty camera Matilda and made my way to Rillito Park to partake in much gooey fat kid awesomeness.
And since I woke up late, the ice cream could be considered my breakfast that day.
Life is amazing!
|A good crowd for a good cause, thank you Blue Bell!|
The Brain Freeze festival was sponsored by Blue Bell Ice Cream but I didn't know that's who was primarily the main attraction. Sure local badass Cashew Cow was there serving up amazing vegan realness, as was the Screamery, an Arizona based company that utilizes 'cruelty free' methods to extract the milk from their lovely cows. Which was cool, but I was sure I'd see The Hub or at least Isabella's, but....nope. Mostly Blue Bell. I mean, that's fine, its a great product, I was just a bit miffed by not seeing more Tucson, or at least southern Arizona, based ice cream companies represented.
I then found out that the entire festival's proceeds was going to SANDS (the Southern Arizona Network for Down Syndrome) and Blue Bell was a big contributor towards that. Its awesome when small local businesses get together for a charitable cause and donate what they can but when the big kids come a srtrollin' in with that corporate cash and want to make a sizable contribution, then we talking some real duckets flowing to the charity.
So cheers on you Blue Bell!
|One of each please!|
The turnout for the event can be categorized as 'not bad'. Meaning a good amount of ice cream lovin' folk were either standing in line or already in attendance. Seeing as ticket prices were only $12, which allows you to eat as much ice cream as possible, I wasn't surprised that families came out in a near horde for the event. And because there were so many families with kids there, the amount of jumping castles, games and inflatable punching activities (that sounds slightly erotic right?) rivaled the tents set up to get down with the sweet treat righteousness.
My first scoop was something called 'Moolennium Crunch', which was packed with almonds, pecans, walnuts, chocolate and caramel chunks in a smooth vanilla base. The super fun day was off to an amazing start because it was really tasty.
Next up was the 'Cotton Candy' variety, swimming in neon shades of pink and blue that surprisingly had a true cotton candy flavor to it. How they do that? The 'Dutch Chocolate' was really rich but quite delicious and the 'Rainbow Sherbet' was a kind of electric neapolitan style as it featured essence of lime, orange and strawberry that all came together in a very refreshing way. Not one sample I, well, sampled that day disappointed. How could it....its freakin' ice cream!
|Tucson ice cream was represented as well!|
After sampling some vegan chocolate chip from Cashew Cow, I recognized the owner there but she seemed busy doing stuff on her phone. She then approached me and held her camera up for me to see what was on the screen.
"The protesters out on the street by the entrance, they have a anti-Brain Freeze Facebook page. They are calling this event cruel and "anti-speciesist"...whatever that means".
It's true. By the entrance on 1st Avenue, a group of hardcore vegans were holding up signs calling the event unfair to animals and trying to get it shut down, or at least make people aware that milk comes from cows and they don't like that. Vegans also don't eat honey, which I find very strange since that's what bees do naturally anyway.
Regardless of the fact that Brain Freeze is all for charity and that there are vegan option treats, the few out there braving the heat wearing all black are pretty passionate about their cause and beliefs. I, personally, don't like to get in the way of those that are militant in thier views because no matter what you do or say, in my experience anyway, wont matter. They have firm convictions, believe that they are 100% right and my words or actions towards or against them will be white noise.
But I still had to get a closer look.
|Food trucks, fun and fundraising!|
Seeing that the protesting vegans were out in the open and attracting attention, I felt that it was within my right to take some pictures of them. I didn't want to talk, I didn't want to get in their way, just a shot or two.
So I stood a good distance away from them. I focused Matilda as tight as I could so the picture you see is me standing at least 10ft away with the lens that I brought, used for tight shots, not telephoto.
Cars were driving by them honking in either support or objection as others entered the parking area with their windows down laughing or yelling at them to piss off. I just stood off to the side and snapped off a shot or two. That's when I was discovered and that's when the problems started.
"I didn't authorize my picture being taken! I did not sign a waiver!", screamed an angry vegan lady.
"Um...you're in public view and you're not wearing masks," I retorted back. "Your picture is being taken no matter what."
"You're interfering with our right to perform a peaceful protest!", shouted another lady who was slathered in white sunblock making her look either goth or dead. To her I said nothing. That was the dumbest thing I have heard in a while and let it go.
As I walked back to the festival, I stated: "You know this event is all for charity and there are vegan ice cream options."
That's when some raged up white guy in dreadlocks screamed, "IT SHOULD ALL BE VEGAN!"
As I walked away they were asking me what my name was, that I was in violation of their rights (again) and so on. Ugh.
Look, if you are going to make some sort of spectacle, be it a peaceful protest or circus side show freak exhibition, and you are out in public, in 2019, people are gonna take your picture. We all, or most, have phones and all of them, well...most, have cameras attached. So don't get upset when people start snapping away and uploading. It was probably because I had a pro digital camera aimed at them, or something, that caused a stir, but, gimme a break. If you're exposed on the street commanding the spotlight in any capacity then I, and we, too have carte blanche to document it.
But, whatever. I wasn't going to let a small group of emphatic vegans holding signs get to me. I was having too much fun!
|Huh boy, here we go|
By 2pm the heat was really starting to get to me, even with the cool treats and water provided, so it was time to move on. I left in a great mood, mainly because my mouth was sticky, my belly was full and I ran into a bunch of friends there.
Hopefully Brain Freeze will be a regular event. If it is, hit me up and I will so be there. Even if I have to wade through some angry protesters. It was so so worth it.
Cheers...and thank you Brain Freeze!
|A good time was had by all!|
Camera, Typing and Unapologetically Eating Ice Cream:
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Star Wars Day, 2019