Saturday, March 31, 2007

More festivals this weekend . . .

North of Scottsdale is Carefree, Arizona, where the Sonoran Festival of Fine Art is taking place this weekend. Stroll along Easy Street (yes, that's a real street name) between 10AM and 5 PM each day to enjoy food, music, and art. Be sure to check out one of the world's largest sundials, the beautiful desert landscape, and the coolest slide for kids - a gila monster.

In the west valley, there's the 9th annual Litchfield Park Art and Culinary Festival. Over 200 fine artists from all over the country will be displaying their work. There will be music on several stages, demonstrations by local chefs, wine tasting, and, of course, lots of yummy food. The fun takes place between 10 AM and 5 PM both Saturday (today) and Sunday. It's at Wigwam Boulevard and Old Litchfield Road (next to the world-famous Wigwam resort) Admission and parking are free.

The Tempe Arts Festival is in downtown Tempe today and tomorrow. There will be arts and crafts, live music, street performers, and wine tasting. Go to Mill Avenue to join in the fun. Drop into the Borders Books at 699 Mills Avenue between noon and 4 PM either day, where science fiction author Vijaya Schartz will be signing copies of her latest books. Admission is free.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What shall we do this weekend?

There is so much happening around the Valley of the Sun this weekend! Here are a few things from which to choose:

* Free jazz concert: On Friday night, from 6 PM to 8 PM, on the patio of AJ's Fine Foods, 20050 N. 67th Avenue, Glendale, AJ's Jazz combo will perform. There will also be a "mini fashion show."

* Film: Viewing and Lecture: On ASU's west campus, in the Kiva Lecture Hall (4701 W. Thunderbird Road, Phoenix), the Friday Night Film Series, looking at movies based on classic novels, continues. This week, the film is American Splendor. After the film, Fred Lench, a "film connoisseur since 1985," will lead a discussion. Admission and parking are free.

* Westside Motorcycle Expo: Travel to Glendale's University of Phoenix Stadium on Glendale and 95th Avenues to the first of what promotors plan to be a semi-annual event, this celebration of the motorcycle will run Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10 AM to 6 PM. From 7 PM to 11 PM each night, there will be a concert. Friday night's band is Buckcherry. Saturday and Sunday the band will be Army of Anyone. Go to the exhibition and you'll find" extreme freestyle motorcycle demonstrations," free stuff, and fun for the kids, including "NASCAR and drag strip simulators." General admission is $18, $12 with a military I.D., and free for children 12 years old and younger.

* Miniature Horse show: This one actually started today (Wednesday), and runs through Sunday. The Arizona Touch of Class Miniature Horse Show is at Scottsdale's WestWorld Equestrian Center, 16601 North Pima Road. They begin at 8AM each day, and admission is free. Go to for more information.

* Stomp! The exuberant celebration of percussion will be presented at the Maricopa County Events Center, on RH Johnson Boulevard in Sun City West. Ticket prices are $35 - $55.

* Feathered Friends Festival: From 9 AM to 2 PM at the Gilbert Riparian Institute, 2757 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert. There will be over 40 booths, wildlife exhibits, and arts and crafts. It's free, but donations are accepted.

* Book sales: Two branches of the Glendale library will be holding book sales this weekend. For a bibliophile like me, there are bound to be plenty of irresistable bargains. Hours at the Main Branch (5959 Brown Street) will be 9 - 5 on Saturday and 8 to Noon on Sunday. Books will all be half price on Sunday.
The Foothills branch (19055 N. 57th Avenue) will hold its sale from 9 to 3. Books will priced at $1.

* "Buggin' Art": The Heard Museum West, 16126 N. Civic Center Plaza in Surprise, will celebrate the opening of its newest exhibition, "Buggin' Art," on Saturday from 11:00 AM to 3:30 PM. The artist Elizabeth Wallace (Navajo/Washoe/Maidu) will lecture at 11:00 and at 3:00. Musician Jeremiah Sammartana (Navajo) will perform. Gerald Dawavendewa will sign his children's book, The Butterfly Dance from 11 to 1. There will be craft activities for the kids, and admission is free. The exhibition runs through August 26.

* Peoria's Pioneer Day Parade: This Saturday, beginning at 10 AM, enjoy the celebration in downtown Peoria. The parade will travel Washington Street between 85th and 83rd Avenues.

* Free family fun: Take the kids to the Spring Extravaganza between 9 AM and 12 noon on Saturday. At the Sahuaro Ranch Park Softball Complex (63rd Avenue and Mountain View Road in Glendale), there will be an egg hunt, an egg decorating contest (bring your own eggs), prizes, candy, and giant inflatable games. Admission is free!

* Cesar Chavez Celebration: Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, will be the site of the first annual Cesar Chavez Celebration. The fundraiser for the Chavez Foundation will be Saturday from 11 AM to 9:30 PM and Sunday from 11 AM to 8 PM Sunday. Featured appearances include War, Emilio Navaira, Graciela Beltran, and El Chicano. Ticket prices range from $10 to $15.

* Free movie tickets: Get free tickets to an advance screening of Firehouse Dog, a new movie rated PG. This Saturday, go to one of two locations to meet representatives of the Phoenix or Gilbert fire departments and get pet rescue decals, promotional items, and those tickets.
In the east valley, got to Cosmo Dog Park/Doggie Beach Party, 2502 East Ray Road, between 8:30 AM and 10 AM In Phoenix, got to Arizona Humane Society, 9226 N. 13th Avenue between 10 AM and 11 AM.
Watch the Arizona Republic newspaper for free advance screening tickets to other movies. They're offered several times a year. Note the fine print: these tickets are honored on a first come, first served basis. "The theater is overbooked to ensure a full house." Translation: get there really early!

Freddie Duran Unplugged

Tomorrow night is Thursday, and it's time to travel to Glendale's main library at 5959 W. Brown Street. Acoustic music of Mexico and the desert southwest will be presented by Freddie Duran. It's a great auditorium, and it's free!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Phoenix Folk Traditions Music Festival

What a wonderful day we had at the second day of the festival! The weather was absolutely perfect and the music was fantastic! We parked in the elementary school lot and took the free shuttle, which deposited us right in front of the Encanto Park Clubhouse. Inside were two performance sites: the ballroom and the fireside room. Straight ahead was the Opry House stage, and to our left was the Outdoor Folk Arbor.

We started with the arbor - a circle of musicians seated in folding chairs in the shade of a cluster of trees. One man played a saw (!), another a dulcimer. There were a couple of autoharps, a fiddle, a bass, and several guitars of different sorts. A large clock was fastened to the tree with a plastic tie. Performances changed on the half-hour and musicians and audience alike needed to keep track of the time. We recognized a few of the musicians - some in the performing circle, some in the audience. This was a sing-along, and we found ourselves joining in the fun.

We spent the entire day there, enjoying folk, blues, country, and bluegrass music. We discovered new favorite performers and delighted in hearing old favorites in new settings. Several musicians shared original works. The whole atmosphere was casual and relaxing. As we strolled from one scheduled performance to another, we passed clusters of musicians practicing, or playing for the joy of it.
If you like music, then I highly recommend this event. We're certainly looking forward to next year's festival. It's on our list of "must attends."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

More things to do this weekend

In the west valley, Luke Air Force Base is hosting Luke Days, an air show they present every two years. The show runs today and Sunday, and it's free! There is a $5 charge for parking. There are lots of exciting exhibits and demonstrations for aircraft fans, including a Thunderbirds air show and a Thunderbirds ground show. There will also be a Pearl Harbor attack re-enactment called "Tora, Tora, Tora," and a Tuskegee Airmen AT-6 aerial demonstration.

If historic homes are your interest, take a self-guided tour of homes of the 1920s and 1930s in Phoenix's Encanto-Palmcroft neighborhood. There will also be an antique car show, music, and an arts and crafts show. Admission is $18, and free parking is available at Phoenix College, on 15th Avenue and Thomas Road. From there, ride the shuttle to the tour, this Sunday, from 10 AM to 4 PM.

Of course, March is Spring Training month, and there are games throughout the valley every day. Go to to find the teams and times that work best for you. Tickets are still available for most games, and it's a great way to spend an afternoon.

This weekend the Safeway International LPGA golf tournament at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country club winds up.

Today at Tempe Beach Park (on Tempe Town Lake), there's a salsa competition to benefit the Hemophilia Association of Arizona. Expect lots of music, salsa, and margaritas. Admission is $10.

Film Festivals

Are you interested in film? The Phoenix area has several film festivals throughout the year. Here are just a few:
*The Arizona Black Film Showcase The sixth annual event at the Herberger Theater and the AMC Theater - Arizona Center is ending its three-day run today, March 24, 2007.

*The Phoenix Film Festival April 12 - April 19 Check out their website at Http://
Included in this important festival are five "Showcase Non-competetive Films:"
Fracture, Waitress, Blind Dating, Netherbeast, Inc., and Wild Seven. These celebrities are scheduled to be there: Jane Seymour, Judd Nelson, Jason Mewes, Steve Burns, Amy Davidson, Robert Forster, and director James Keach. Tickets range from $10 for an individual screening, to a 4-film pass for $30 ($20 for seniors and students) to the VIP Patron Pass for $425 ($350 for seniors and students.)

* Scottsdale International Film Festival October 5 - 9

*The Heard Museum Film Festival October 12 - 14 This world-renown American Indian museum presents "original and award-winning" Native films.

*The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival October 19-21

*The Peoria Arizona Film Festival The second annual festival was held March 1-4 this year. There is no word yet on a date for next year. See pictures of the event and read about winning films at

In Tucson (just 1 1/2 hours south)
*The French and Francophone Film Festival March 20 - April 12, at the University of Arizona. Five films will be shown, with free admission. Food from France and French-speaking countries will be available for sale before each film.

*The Arizona International Film Festival April 20 - 29

In Sedona (just a couple of hours north)
*The Sedona International Film Festival February 27-March 2

Friday, March 23, 2007

Al Gore at ASU in Tempe!

I was skimming through Get Out! magazine when I came across this info: Al Gore will be lecturing live at ASU Gammage on Monday, April 2, 2007. DH, DD, and I heard him speak at an event in Fairfield, California in the late '90s. We've been supporters ever since. I'm sure you've heard how wooden he is? Not true. See him in person and you'll realize what a great sense of humor he has.

So - the tickets to see him at ASU? Well, it turns out they're just a tad (!) too expensive for us - $35 to $75. We'll just have to see the film An Inconvenient Truth instead. But maybe you are interested. Go to for more information.

Phoenix Folk Traditions Music Festival

This is the time of year when one's frustration is not finding something to do, but not being able to find time to do all one wants to do! Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25, is the 18th annual Phoenix Folk Traditions Music Festival. AND, it's free, with a free shuttle from the parking lot at 15th Avenue and Osborn to the festival at Encanto Park.

We picked up a copy of the complete schedule, and I'm so sorry we can only go on Sunday! Each day, there are performances scheduled each half-hour, at seven venues within the park. There are some workshops scheduled throughout the day, for those people who are musicians - we're just listeners =) . There's an "Interactive Guitar Fingerstyle Workshop," and an Autoharp Workshop, for example. We plan to get there for the first performance at 10:00 AM and stay until the last song at 5:00 PM.

Rik and Rick

Last night's performance at the Glendale library was fantastic! The rain kept a lot of people away (here in the desert many people are intimidated by the wet stuff), and it was their loss! The schedule published by the library just said there would be a preview of this weekend's music festival. Those of us who were there enjoyed the performances of folk singers Rik Palieri (from Vermont) and Rick Nestler (from New York.) Palieri played the banjo, guitar, Native American low flute, and an ocarina. Nestler accompanied their songs on the guitar and the tenor banjo.

The two sang folk and blues music (including a couple of Woody Guthrie songs), plus some originals. Nestler's "Take Me to the Islands" was a fun calypso tune, made even more fun by the background story of how he came to write it. Palieri included a Polish mountain song and a couple of songs he had written. The audience was encouraged to sing along on the chorus of many of the songs, and sing we did. Palieri's book The Road is My Mistress: Tales of a Roustabout Songster was for sale, and he signed our copy for us. I'm looking forward to reading it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Free Music!

One of the many great things about living here is all the free activities and entertainment available. From October to the middle of April, the Glendale Public Library ( sponsors free musical performances on Thursday nights at 7:00 PM. We've enjoyed a wide variety of musical genres there - South American folk music, Tejano music, bluegrass, jazz, music from Zimbabwe, Native American Flute, reggae, Baroque classical music, Irish traditional songs, and much more. The auditorium is large enough that we've never been unable to get a seat, even though these concerts are very popular. It's stadium-type seating, so we don't have to worry about our short selves sitting behind someone really tall. The music is high quality, and the audience is always great. Tonight we're going to hear a "preview of the annual Phoenix Folk Traditions Music Festival at Encanto Park," which takes places Saturday and Sunday.

We're really excited about the music festival for at least a couple of reasons. It's in a beautiful park in the middle of Phoenix (one we haven't had the chance to explore yet), it promises all different kinds of music (folk, blues, celtic, country, cowboy, bluegrass and traditional), AND it's free! Two free days of great music in a beautiful setting - who could ask for more?

I Live in a Wonderful Place!

We live in a large-ish house (1900 square feet), in a community with wide, clean streets. There are seven citrus trees in our yard: grapefruit, tangelo, lime, and three kinds of orange. In spring the blossoms fill the air with a heavenly scent. Cactus, bouganvilla, lantana and Mexican bird of paradise bloom in our yard.

We don't have stray cats or dogs wandering our unfenced yard, but we DO see quail, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, pigeons, doves, and hawks.

Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners our family and friends gather around the table on our patio, enjoying the good life! In the late summer, there are spectacular monsoonal storms. Yes, it gets hot - really, really, hot - but we spend time out of doors, and our bodies adjust to the heat by sending capillaries closer to the skin and it's not so bad. Arizonans know to stay in the shade.

There is so much to do in this Valley of the Sun that we don't have enough time to do even a fraction of all that we would like. We don't make a lot of money, but we don't have to here in this divine place. The purpose of this blog is to share with you the wonders that are Arizona.