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.
Much of Arizona remains unchanged from the days when cowboys and their dinosaur steeds ruled the desert plains. Millions of acres of lush trees still blanket the Coconino National Forest, growing up over mountains in defiance of the desert's red rocks.
The horseback guides at Pot A Gold Adventures call each of these majestic landscapes home. Each day, they lead groups from three different stables: Hitchin' Post Stables, Pot A Gold Stables, and Mountain Ranch Stables. From here, they depart on two-hour adventures through deserts and forests. On some of these trips, they might stop to build a fire and cook dinners of steak, potatoes, and beans (the cookout dinner may be added to the Groupon for an additional fee.)
Lemonade and iced tea replace cowboy food during the spring and summer. The wagons are drawn on rubber wheels to make the ride as smooth as possible so guests can enjoy the views as well as the horses, as they are nearly as beautiful as the surrounding landscape. Pot A Gold Adventures' trainers raise most of the purebred Quarter and Paint horses almost from birth.
Though visitors to Pot A Gold won't find leprechauns, they will find horses?plenty of them. That's because the business, which runs its own outpost in Mayer, is also the parent company to Pioneer Village Stables in Phoenix and Hitchin' Post Stables in Flagstaff. At each of its locations, visitors climb atop purebred quarter and paint horses to travel a different landscape. Pot A Gold Stables invites riders and their steeds to trot along 4,500 acres peppered with rock outcroppings and a river. Pioneer Village Stables has a more urban aesthetic, albeit one that feels more like a ghost town than a city. Here, riders saunter through the remnants of an 1800s-era community, clomping past an old church, sheriff's station, and sarsaparilla well.
Sweet. Smoky. Spicy. Sloppy. Good barbecue can be a lot of things, but at A Smokin' Good Time, only one dish gets to claim the title Best Barbecue. Guests can enjoy two full days of saucy barbecue, drink samples, and live music. Funds raised through the festivities go to support the Coalition for Compassion and Justice, a non-profit dedicated to poverty relief.