Urban Dare Adventure Race is a fast-paced competition that challenges two-person teams to decipher clues, navigate the city, and perform playful stunts. A dozen trivia-based clues lead contestants to checkpoints all over Phoenix, where they must use a camera to document their presence and, in some cases, complete challenges, such as scaling a wall or solving a puzzle. In addition to running and walking, contestants may use public transportation to move from checkpoint to checkpoint, though taxis, cars, and bikes are off-limits. Races generally last less than four hours, and the winning team receives free entry to the Super Dare, a cruise-based take on the Urban Dare concept that features a $5,000 grand prize. Proceeds from the race will be used to help battle breast cancer.
Every year, more than 100 amateur and professional cooks prepare fresh salsas for My Nana's Best Tasting Salsa Challenge. Proceeds from the daylong salsa competition and festival benefit the Arizona Hemophilia Association, which aims to enhance the life of sufferers and advocate for bleeding disorders. Now in its 30th year, the fest brings in more than 20,000 people annually. In addition to the salsa challenge, the Patron Margarita Mix-Off, which takes place from 12:30?3:30 p.m., challenges local bartenders to compete for the title of Best Margarita and a $500 cash prize. Outside of competitions, margaritas and cold beers wash down unlimited chips and salsa, and the rhythms of live bands keep crowds chewing in unison. Parents can accompany their children into a fun zone with multiple bounce houses, interactive games, and a bungee run.
Live music echoes around Arizona Mills. The aromas of internationally inspired dishes waft through the air. And rows of stalls showcase handmade items such as American Indian art, jewelry, and clothing, made by local artisans. At the three-day Taste of Arizona & Spring Training Festival, the public comes face-to-face with some of the state's best local wares?and performers. And on top of that, the Spring Training Fan Fest area shows off sports-centric displays and hosts events where fans can dine with their favorite players or dump celebratory vats of mashed potatoes over their heads.
The rest of the festival's tantalizing grub comes from the VIP food and music pavilion. There, a line of food trucks churns out the street foods of the Cajun South, the Southwest, Italy, and Asia, as well as comfort foods ranging from fried chicken to tacos. A portion of all proceeds from the VIP area also goes to benefit local charities, spreading the joy far beyond Arizona Mills.
Host Sharon Cooper-Lashley has trained with such celebrity stylists as Patric Bradley and Taliah Waajid, and in the first Annual Divas of Colour Hair & Beauty Show she brings together some of Arizona's rising stars in creative hair and makeup. They may all share a passion for transforming people into walking works of art, but it's not all buddy-buddy?it's a competition. The artists vie for top honors in categories such as Natural Hair, which bans chemical straighteners; Fantasy Hair, which is open to more imaginative possibilities; the Barber Battle, a lightning-round for elaborate fades and designs; and the Make-Up contest, which transforms models into high-concept fantasy beings.
Microbrews and macrobrews, such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Coors Light, and Miller Genuine Draft, come together for a night of revelry at the Blue Collar Beerfest & Backyard BBQ. The event takes place at Rawhide Western Town, a replica of a bygone era complete with stagecoach rides and gold-panning activities. Once there, festgoers can swig samples of 20 beers and let a roller-derby expo and a mechanical bull vie for their attention.
The course itself carries on that fun vibe, too. Winding through city streets and local parks, the 5K route is dotted with hydration stations that dole out hot chocolate. Holiday music, a giant Santa inflatable, and snow blowers help to set