We all love going out to eat and drink. But what if you could go out to eat and drink and help support some great charities? Well, that is exactly what FlockFest does. They combine the enjoyment of gastronomic and libational pleasure with helping others but that is not how it started…
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 now grown to over 500 floats, 400 VIP’s and several thousand more attendees that participate outside in the event area on the beach.
The Flock Spreads Its Wings
In 2020, Ryan Young was added to the FlockFest Board as VP of Programming and Community Relations, and spearheaded the addition of our flagship partnership with Bar Rita on their weekly event called, ‘Pride Mondays’. Ryan added, “Shortly after, we added ‘Wednesday Fla-Mingle’ at Tatts and Tacos in Oakland Park. Many Flockers that live further North wanted an option that was closer to home”. The gatherings are a hit and as the Flock spreads its wings, the good they do spreads far and wide as well. No wonder it is a hit!
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. They plan, manage, and promote non-profit events that achieve fundraising goals and promote their 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!
“We have had the best time at our events and the fact that we can raise money for charity while doing it is the icing on the cake!”, Steven said. 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”, Young said. 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 and 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! Jennifer McClain was kind enough to donate two and encourage her fans to come by.”
In the end FlockFest proved that the Strut must go on. Together with the Pride Center with whom it partnered for the Judy Shepherd toy drive, they collected $3,500 worth of toys and another $500 for the Undercover Santa toy drive.
The Flock Troop Stands Out From The Crowd
FlockFest has also participated in local Pride events with their 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 colour 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. Their events often have no admission fee and it is a great opportunity for the 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 our 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.”
Clearly they are onto something since the group’s popularity has grown monumentally in social media follows, likes and overall community support.
If you are ready to enjoy some food, drink while at the same time helping others, then join the Flock!
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About the Author
Ryan Young was born and raised on the East End of Long Island and later moved to Westchester County where he attended High School and SUNY/WCC. He later transferred to Cornell University to study Industrial Relations and did an accelerated study abroad at the University of Cambridge focused on Elizabethan economic history.
He loves to talk about his study abroad and political internships. One in district in The House for Congresswoman Nita Lowey and a second in The Senate on Capitol Hill for Congresswoman Hillary Clinton.
Ryan currently works in IT as a technical architect and database administrator for a London based media company with offices in Asia, New York City, and Chicago. He is passionate about using Salesforce.com as his primary tool and loves his work.
He lives in Oakland Park with his partner, artist Avi Ram and their cat “Mr. Kitty” who Ryan rescued from an alley in Jersey City. He has a passion for pairing fun times and celebrations with fundraising for charity and sees his role on the board of FlockFest as an opportunity to make this passion a regular part of his life.