In 1966, Chuck Mabery bought a cattle ranch that dated back to the late 19th century, planting the seeds of the Blazin' M Ranch. After stints herding and growing vegetables, the flood of 1993 forced the Mabery family to start over, inspiring them to show off their musical talents at a traditional chuck-wagon dinner staged on the property. Fully renovated in 2010, the ranch now hosts an authentic Arizona frontier town where visitors can experience the cowboy life through such activities as lassoing mechanical steers, shooting wax bullets out of a real Colt .45, and learning how to easily covert ten-gallon hats into metric. A selection of shops fits customers out in Western-themed apparel, the copper Spur Saloon serves local wines and microbrews, and a museum delves into the history of the ranch, pioneer-era Arizona, and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. An old-time photo studio, "Pistols and Petticoats", allows groups to have their likeness captured while wearing Victorian costumes. At the museum, the unique Wood'n West Gallery enthralls visitors with moving dioramas of Western life, hand carved over 30 years by a master whittler.
Spinning fire creates a haze of smoke. A giant dances through it. There's no stage around, no velvet seats to remind audiences they're watching a show, so the scene feels like hallucination, or like a portal has opened up and granted eyes a glimpse into another realm. And such is the effect Flam Chen has sought to create for nearly 20 years. Through pyrotechnic displays tinged with technology and made more daring with acrobatics, the circus troupe's performers create a dramatic playground where dark and light forces—at once human and animal—feed off each other.
Outside of performing a dozen original shows across the globe, the troupe performs custom performances for public causes and private commissions. Their theatricality has attracted the attention of masters of spectacle such as Tim Burton and Stan Lee, and made them shoe-ins to serve as the flyers during the Scream Awards. Yet their performances have also served a greater good: they've raised funds for local charities and communities, and worked with the non-profit Many Mouths One Stomach to create public celebration and ceremony.
Running with 1,500-pound bulls is inherently dangerous—the organizers of the stateside Running with the Bulls don't deny that. But that doesn't mean that the thrill of Pamplona has to come with the mistreatment of the animals, which is why participants who hit, slap, harass, or otherwise impede the progress of the bulls will be removed from the venue. With those distractions aside, spectators can focus on the essence of the run: watching 12 horn-swinging bulls dash through a quarter-mile course on the heels of runners who must have heard that this event was called Running with the Lambs. But the event gives the community more than elevated heart rates, as each three-day spectacle begins with a charity run that benefits Operation Hawkeye, an organization that supports the families of Special Operations forces who've been killed in combat.
The public sought exciting new entertainment in the Roaring Twenties, and as the storytellers of the Golden Age of Hollywood labored at myth making, theaters for the newfangled moving pictures were popping up across the nation. It was in this spirit that the Orpheum Theatre opened in 1929, though the Spanish Medieval– and Baroque-style building was one of the city's last major projects before the great stock-market crash. Regardless of its less-than-auspicious beginnings—not to mention nearly a century of hardships to follow—the theater avoided the wrecking ball. In the '60s, the Orpheum introduced Broadway theater to the city and staged such productions as Annie, Caberet, and Barefoot in the Park. Decades later, the theater was renovated and reopened once more, its majestic interior landscapes restored to their former glory.
Climbing onto one of AZ Pedal Tours' urban cruisers?or tandems, or with a little one on the back in a trailer or co-pilot seat?locals and tourists alike can enjoy Flagstaff on two wheels, rather than in gas-hungry cars or power-hungry horses. With four types of tours to choose from, any cyclist can find the perfect ride, from the family-friendly historic tour to the adults-only beer tour. During the latter, guides spend 20 minutes showing visitors Flagstaff's area breweries, then set them free with two hours of bike rentals, allowing bikers to hit up their beer-maker of choice.
Founded in 2014, The Mountain Country Music Festival gathers country musicians from across the nation for a celebration of music from classic country to contemporary country rock. The afternoon begins with a local and nationally recognized bands alike filling the air with tunes while kids bounce to the beat in inflatable castles and friends celebrate their mutual love of music in the beer garden. The kid-friendly event also features a petting zoo. To round out the festivities, a headliner, such as 2014's CMW Radio Awards winner Dallas Smith, will cap off the night.