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.
Since its founding in 1934 by archetypal cowboy Roy Rogers and a group of like-minded cowpeople, the Sons of the Pioneers have sung classic compositions chronicling life in the Old West to audiences worldwide—earning them entry into the Country Music Hall of Fame and National Cowboy Hall of Fame. A veritable Supreme Court of country music, the sextet's rotating lineup of members perform for several decades before retiring, and a mandatory majority vote from the Senate is required for new cowboy singers. The venerable current roster still burns through fiddle and guitar strings like undomesticated flames fanned by the mellifluous breeze of six-part harmonies. In keeping with the authentic music and Western themes, the Sons of the Pioneers encourages audiences to applaud the performance with hearty "yee-haws," but asks them to refrain from firing six-shooters wildly into the air.
Local thespians Matt McAuley and Richard Vines banded together with the Dysart Community Education Department to conceptualize Ghostlight Theatre on the tenets of entertaining and educating the community with the dramatic arts. The theatre's live productions give members of the community an opportunity to flex their theatrical muscles through acting, designing costumes, and pursuing careers as prop trees. Meanwhile, Ghostlight Theatre’s summer camps prepare budding thespians aged 10–18 for their moments in the spotlight.
UltraStar Cinemas cossets moviegoers in cushy seating as they enjoy Hollywood hits alongside buttery servings of popcorn. Film buffs can peruse the current showtimes by location to handpick an action-packed flick, romantic comedy, or chilling thriller featuring inexplicably aggressive hamsters. The concession stand outfits moviegoers with snacks, drinks, and buckets filled with warm kernels, keeping stomach grumblings to a minimum during showings and providing crunchy projectiles in case of sudden younger-sibling attacks. UltraStar Play it Again Cinemas also offers a selection of Hollywood hits for patrons to enjoy in high-back reclining chairs alongside snacks from the concession stand.