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Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival: All Things Cheesy Are Good!

The "Venice of America" welcomed thousands of people to a very unusual type of festival, the first one we have heard of in Florida, and for sure, an experience worth repeating.

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Editor’s Note: “Our review of the Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival was written based on our team’s experience up until around 3pm, time when we left. Unfortunately we have noticed a thread of comments about the festival outcome that are regretful to know about now. We have decided to keep our story published as originally drafted, but will definitely investigate into what might have happened to disrupt the festival success we had noticed and will keep our audience informed if modified.

– Original story –

I have lately been to many festivals in Florida, but I have to admit the idea of a pizza festival had never struck my mind until I learned about Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival. Saturdays are always fun in Florida, but this one was a very special one.

The fun started while traveling to Fort Lauderdale as our team decided to go via TriRail. People living in South Florida need to use TriRail more often: you save money, you don’t have the stress of fighting out loud with drivers on I-95, and you become ‘real social’, not Facebook social.

Before getting into pizza photos and reviews, let’s talk about the city host for the Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival. You can’t get it wrong here. It is not only a lovely city by Florida’s east coast, but a haven for fun, art, and the good moments of life we like to experience and treasure under the sun.

One of the top rated tourist destinations in Florida, Fort Lauderdale offers excellent beaches, quintessential palm trees landscapes, and relaxation everywhere you go. Fort Lauderdale’s wide stretches of white sand are larger than any neighboring southern city and perhaps, among the best shores countrywide.

So the “Venice of America” welcomed us to a very unusual type of festival, the first one we have heard of in Florida, and for sure, an experience worth repeating.

Main ingredients: tons of delicious pizzas of all sorts, music, and a very suitable & friendly location. You mix them all and you get in result a much approved idea for quality time on a Saturday afternoon in South Florida.

Judging by the hearty cheerfulness of everyone attending the inaugural Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival, and the great number of people present — way more than a dozen thousand people — this festival will be an event to stay. Jack Seiler, Mayor of the City of Fort Lauderdale, opened the event and made the proclamation that April 1st is Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival Day, also appreciating the great care and thoroughness of a young millennial entrepreneur, Lais Pontes, who successfully put together the festival.

Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival
In the photo, from left to right, the Mayor of The City of Fort Lauderdale and Lais Pontes during the Proclamation ceremony.

With music, kids zone, indoor and outdoor setting, and numerous vendors, people were enjoying delectable pizzas, refreshing local craft beers, wines, deserts, and having just a phenomenal time. It is remarkable to say that most of the vendors present were showcasing unique products that seemed to arouse curiosity or interest in many. For example, a vendor who brought a cucumber drink available at Whole Foods Supermarket was seen busy offering samples at every moment.

Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival
Mr. Q Cumber cucumber-based beverage in a 7-oz bottle. The 100% natural sparkling drink contains no sodium and has only 90 calories.

Sometimes with all the different types of pizzas being sold around, it can be hard to differentiate which is the best. The Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival also provided a more intimate moment to savor a good slice of pizza while getting to know from the chefs about their pizza, its ingredients and what to expect on a future visit to their establishments in the city.

Last but not least, the beers! The only thing better than wine and cheese is pizza and beer, and to know the perfect pairings that will leave you more than satisfied, there were a few local craft beers on the premises. And, yes, they really tasted good.

Photos of the inaugural Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival

After a successful first year, I hope the festival repeats many more times in the coming years, and that new attractions may be added. Perhaps a dedicated dancing area, and better use of the courtyard (sitting space, games) will help to ease the long lines.

Kudos to the organizers in helping Feeding South Florida with a portion of the proceeds from the Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival. This donation provides meals to men, women and children in need of food assistance throughout South Florida.

What a way to showcase the city’s delicious culinary talent to make pizza. This pizza fest was entertaining and yummy-licious. Keep an eye on next year’s event if you missed it this time!

———-

The Inaugural Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival Happened April 1st. A very entertaining afternoon with tons of pizzas, local craft beers, music, and kid zone.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. You missed the part where they ran out of pizza within two hours and majority of the people who attended did not receive any pizza at all. This was an awful event that failed to deliver anything (particularly pizza).

    • Thanks for the headsup and the link. I hadn’t noticed it until now. Our story was made upon our experience. We left the festival by 3PM and did not have a bad impression at that time, all the contrary. People up until that moment we were there seemed to be very happy. I did notice that lines for pizza were extremely long and maybe because it was the first time of the festival, lack of better use of the courtyard was noticeable. Hopefully with all the comments in the link you sent, the organizers will be able to take heed for a future edition of the event.

      • No problem. The pontes group has actually been pretty rude about the matter and have been deleting comments and blocking users for complaining. For a PR company they are not handling PR too well. I can’t imagine most anyone wanting to return. Luckily Groupon and Ticketmaster both are offering full refunds. Person I talked to through Groupon said a large number have been requesting refunds for similar grievances.

  2. We were there at 1245 in line and left by 145 to go eat lunch somewhere… Was a disorganized mess. They lied and said over 120 vendors… Was only 5 pizza vendors and some ran out of food while we were there… And we were some of the first in general admissions let in…

  3. This was easily the worst managed event I have witnessed in my 10 years living in Fort Lauderdale. The event promoters changed their website, mid event, from offering 120 vendors, to several vendors. The promoters never responded to questions or complaints on Saturday and deleted and blocked anyone who left critical comments. On April 2nd, the promoters offered what amounted to the worst apology ever and all but blamed the vendors and paying attendees and again blocked any customers that left critical comments on their sham Facebook page. New Times you would be advised to review all of the comments on the event before they are all erased again. You know it is a bad event when people of all party affiliations, forget politics and bond over pizza… or lack there of.

  4. There has been an endless stream of comments on the Facebook event page, however, the organizer is giving themselves carpal tunnel syndrome trying to delete them all. “Yay” New Times for giving the disappointed & angry attendees an uncensored forum for *honest* reviews! The organizer today posted a pathetic attempt at an apology on which they took no ownership and instead blamed the vendors. Mismanaged, overpriced, false advertising and now deleting and blocking comments and providing “wasn’t my fault” “apologies” and trying to get people amped about the “next one” in 2018?? What a joke…and an insult!

  5. This event was severely oversold, falsely advertised and poorly organized. Though there was a huge volume of people there, tickets were still being sold at the door. Unbelievable.

    A 45 minute wait just to enter, then another 45 minutes in line to realize the vendor had run out of pizza.

    120 vendors were advertised. We’d be lucky if 30 vendors were there. 6 of those 30 were pizza vendors. Only 2 had pizza toward the end of the event.

    What’s worse: the organizers of the event, The Pontes Group, are deleting negative comments about the event from the Facebook page and blocking comments from anyone who has made negative comments.

    Here is the sorry attempt at an “apology” that enraged most of those who supported the event by purchasing tickets and showing up.
    https://www.facebook.com/events/991340380980348/permalink/1297356800378703/

    My bachelor’s degree is in Hospitality Management so believe me when I say I have never been to a more poorly handled event. Those responsible are not cut out for this business.

  6. This entire review is FALSE! The only thing Lais Pontes put together was a success of LIES and bogus story telling on any credibility. I was there at 1:30 and it was a mess. How did this “Entreprenur” Lais Pontes get away with this or even get coverage??? DID ANYONE DO RESEARCH ON HER??? HER COMPANY is non creditable “PR” company wth hardly any paying clients and stock images of celebrities who have NO idea who she is. Lais Pontes has erased all the comments, took down reviews, even the ratings off her bogus “PR” company The Pontes Group… how is this a respectable company?

  7. I am contacting FORBES tomorrow, it seems they may have also been given smoke up their rears? It’s concerning how reputable publications such as yourself and others didn’t do research on this con artist and fell for the lies. We want our REFUND AND ANSWERS!!!!!!!! She’s erased everything… you will not do this to another charity! Someone needs to investigate this.

    • For sure we will be investigating the issues reported about this festival. Even though this reported was written upon a personal experience of our visiting team (which is in no way at all associated to the organizers of the event), we consider that such a myriad negative feedback about the inaugural Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival deserves a closer look. And we will keep our audience informed about it.

  8. One of the silent partners of the Pizza fest fiasco with Lais Pontes is the same guy who is putting together VegFest at the War Memorial Auditorium and the YogaExpo at the FTL convention center next week- he’s already been in trouble for previous scams. He also claims over 90,000 people have attended his events- not even close. Beware! SCAM! I was a vendor and got ripped off!

  9. How many pieces of pizza did you guys get that you had a good time? I felt luckier than most to have at least gotten my 4 tickets worth, but when we bought the tickets they promised 2 slices + UNLIMITED samples from 120 pizza vendors. What we got were 4 tickets for samples from 5ish pizza venders. That was the most disappointing part. This was supposed to be a festival of pizza to try dozens of different area pizza places. the lines inside were insane, impossible to figure out which line started where. There was very little information from the event promoter prior to the event( list of vendors, the definition of a sample size) had we known that there would only be 5 pizza vendors, we wouldn’t have gone.

  10. We want to THANK everyone who attended the Pizza Festival in Fort Lauderdale and visited Sarpino’s Pizzeria booth for sampling event. We regret that we were not able to provide samples for every visitor of the event. We are ready to fix that now! Please bring to our restaurant at 100 E Broward Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 your paper ticket or online image and we will give you a FREE personal pizza of any kind. You also can order any other menu item online for delivery and use our promo special “PIZZAFEST” to get 25% OFF on your entire order. Valid till April 15th

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