Image source: Flickr - Kate
Arizona is hardly the quirkiest of the 50 US states. Perhaps that title would go to Rhode Island for being so awkwardly small or to the much larger state of Alaska for having a significantly smaller population than that of Rhode Island. However, Arizona, like all the US states, does have its own eccentricities. Some of these come in the form of quirky, but entertaining annual festivals that have been around for decades and others that are new to the festival scene. Here are a few of our favorites.
The annual Lost Dutchman Days in Apache Junction is exactly what you might expect from a southwestern festival. It's been around in various forms for the past fifty years and attracts 30,000 spectators to its three main events, which are a rodeo, parade, and queen pageant during the three-day event. It also incorporates food, arts & crafts, a dance, and carnival rides. This unique and family friendly festival at the end of February represents the spirit and culture of the state quite well.
Just an hour east of Phoenix in the small town of Superior, you'll find the Prickly Pear Festival, now going on its fourth year. This event is a celebration of the flavors and challenges with collecting the region's iconic prickly pear fruit that comes from a cactus. During the festival, attendees are able to hike through prickly pear territory, learn which ones they can eat and how to prepare them, and purchase an array of items and crafts including prickly pear lip balm, jewelry, and desserts. This one-day event takes place in August and wonderfully highlights a special Arizona treat.
Ribs might more often be paired with football games or family barbecues, but the AZ Rhythm & Ribs Country Music Festival in September shows just how well they go with country music from young and emerging country artists. This two-day event in Cottonwood also offers a chance to try a variety of micro-brew beers, rides for kids, and a BBQ competition. It's another festival that allows you to experience the excellent food and music styles of the region and is sure to leave you satisfied.
November in Phoenix brings about the Chiles and Chocolate Festival at the city's Desert Botanical Garden. Local vendors provide chili and gourmet chocolate-inspired treats and other southwestern delights. For entertainment, you'll find Latin music and dance performances. Entrance to the three-day festival is granted with admission to the botanical garden. This interesting culinary event strikes the right balance between spicy and sweet in a classic desert environment.
The Big Heap Vintage and Handmade Festival is all about old things made new. Hundreds of vendors allow you to browse through and purchase various vintage, handmade, recycled, and salvaged items. Live music is also part of the occasion. The location moves around the state and sets up in various cities like Tucson, Flagstaff, and Scottsdale. Naturally, the items found here are sure to be as unique as the festival itself.
What quirky festivals do you know of and enjoy in your state?
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Auston grew up in Phoenix before escaping to Chicago in 2008. After 4 years working as an engineer, he sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband where he now calls home. When he's not traveling or writing guides about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid. Read Auston's blog at Two Bad Tourists, or follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
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