For two days every Mother's Day weekend, Prescott Fine Art & Wine Festival spills across the verdant, shaded lawn of Courthouse Plaza. The whole show reaches as far as historic Whiskey Row—the famed stomping grounds of Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers. Towering trees sway overhead, and mountain vistas on all sides set a fitting scene for the beautiful works by featured artists.
Despite these historic surroundings, the festival's art is anything traditional. More than 140 local artists showcase their most avant-garde paintings and other pieces. Throughout the weekend, Jurors rate each work for its aesthetic beauty and whether or not it features a wizard riding a white tiger. Meanwhile, chefs from local restaurants serve gourmet food, and in a wine-tasting garden, representatives from Arizona vineyards pour samples of their best bottles.
There are a lot of words one can use to describe barbecue sauce. Some are sweet, some spicy, and some tangy. But at the AZ Rhythm & Ribs festival, only one adjective matters: best. The KCBS Competition takes all comers, restaurant and solo operation alike, to vie for the best barbecue title in the categories of chicken, pork ribs, pork, and beef brisket. Other awards include best dry beans, best sauce, best dessert, and the Anything Goes award, given to a chef who makes the best side dish. Guests vote for their choice with samples—some included with entry—and cleanse their palate between bites with micro-brewed beers from all over the country. Meanwhile, country and southern rock stars make tunes as zesty as the savory stars of the show.
The guides at Sedona Adventure Tours coax visitors out to explore the rugged wilderness and rolling terrain of Sedona and the Verde River Valley. Suited for guests of all experience levels, they helm hikes, horseback rides, and ATV excursions through the desert hills and dusk-red mountains, all the while divulging information on the area's diverse habitats, making sure to cover which rocks are poisonous. Their Verde River tours put guests at the helm of inflatable ducky kayaks which, thanks to their stability and light weight, are easy to navigate through the shady bends and past sweeping desert vistas. Sedona Adventure Tours' signature Water to Wine excursions cap these floating trips with a vino tasting at nearby Alcantara Vineyards.
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 two-day Taste of Cave Creek event gathers more than 25 local restaurants and the region's most renowned chili chefs and salsa makers at Stagecoach Village. Two stages host live music performances, while samples of barbecue, Mexican, Italian, and other unique types of food are served. Judges and guests taste the contestants' chili and salsas during a cook off before their eyes feast on sculptures, paintings, and artisan jewelry at the art exhibits. Throughout the evening, guests can enjoy tastings of tequila and sip on drinks at a wine and craft-beer garden.
Each year, Flagstaff Blues & Brews Festival spreads across a grassy lawn at the Continental Driving Range for a day-long celebration of music. An eclectic lineup of blues performers entertain guests until the sun begins to set. Meanwhile, tented outdoor beer gardens provide fuel for the celebration in the form of craft brews and food while benefiting local school music programs. To accommodate guests of all ages, there's also a children's area filled with bounce houses and games; kids 12 and under are admitted to the festival for free.