Tucson Spotlight

What's New in Tucson - August 2013

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What's New in Tucson - August 2013

Happy Birthday, Tucson!
 For 238 years, free spirits have ventured off the beaten path and found their way to Tucson, attracted by the city's welcoming multicultural vibe. Proud of its melting pot heritage, Tucson commemorates its founding every summer with citywide celebrations. The main event takes place downtown at the site of Tucson's original, 18th century adobe fort, the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson, on August 20. This free, public event includes a ceremony honoring the five flags that have flown over Tucson, a canon salute led by soldiers and other dressed in colorful period costume, a traditional Native American blessing, music by Los Changuitos Feos mariachi band, and a big birthday cake. For more information, call 520-437-5355

You Are There. Meet and talk with representatives of colonial Tucson during Living History Days at the Tucson Presidio (or El Presidio Real de San Agustin del Tucson). On select Saturdays from October through April, volunteers re-enact life at this replica of the adobe fort originally established in the latter half of the 18th century in what is now downtown Tucson. Visitors can experience the fort's 20-feet-tall, 1780s lookout tower; a 1830s-era house and streetscape, and a large mural depicting presidio life. Volunteers dressed in military uniform will march while cannons fire, and volunteers portraying the fort's residents will demonstrate craft making and cooking and other daily activities. Also featured are interpretive exhibits and a small gift shop. For Living History dates and times, call 520-837-8119

Courtyard Entertainment. For a genuine Tucson experience, spend an evening kicking back in the cozy courtyard at La Cocina Restaurant & Cantina. With Tucson musicians returning to the venue most days of the week after a brief summer hiatus, visitors can once again listen to live music under the stars and dance until the wee hours, devour a delicious Mexican-style meal, and belly up to the bar for a creative cocktail or local beer. These twin eateries are tucked away in Old Town Artisans, a transformed adobe stables area of the original Tucson Presidio; they share space with five distinctive shops and galleries selling works by local, regional, and national artists. Check out happy hour and entertainment schedules on

Masters of Clapping & Dancing. Experience flamenco and Spanish culture in a traditional late-night, outdoor festival atmosphere at Tucson Flamenco Festival, September 19-22, at Casa Vicente, the downtown restaurant known for its mouth-watering menu of traditional tapas and paella. Programming includes evening and matinee performances, fashion shows, an all-new guitar competition, and music and dance workshops. Special guest artists include international touring dancers Auxi Fernandez and Jose Moreno, and local favorites Jason and Mele Martinez. Exceptional classical and flamenco guitar and vocals will also be on display as Pedro Cortes, Misael Barraza, Jesus Montoya, Vicente Griego and other world-renowned musicians take the stage. For more information, visit

The Perfect Pitch. Pitching an original movie or television idea in Hollywood is fraught with pitfalls. Competition is fierce and audiences are fickle. But help will be available at Pitch Fest Tucson and Improve Your Pitch Workshop, on the University of Arizona campus, September 27-28. At two different sessions, led by a panel of entertainment industry experts, budding writers and producers will learn insider tips on such topics as avoiding the biggest pitfalls of pitching and creating a logline that sells. Participants with the most saleable pitches will have the chance to win exclusive prizes, including an in-person pitch session with a top Hollywood executive. More details are available on

World Margarita Championship. What could be more refreshing on a warm day than a margarita, either frozen or on the rocks? And where better to imbibe than in Tucson, home to the World Margarita Championship. This annual end-of-summer competition between margarita mixologists from near and far happens Friday, Oct. 25 at the Tucson Museum of Art, in downtown Tucson. More than 15 original margarita recipes will be available for tasting along with a plethora of palate-pleasers from members of the Tucson Originals independently owned, local restaurants. A distinguished panel of local judges will determine the overall winner, and guests will get the chance to vote for the "People's Choice" award. For tickets and other information, visit

Freedom to Ride. Taking over Tucson every Saturday before Thanksgiving, El Tour de Tucson presented by Casino Del Sol Resort is a fun, adventure ride that attracts more than 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities. Main event routes (111, 85-, 60- or 42-miles) range from flat to rolling and moderately hilly, and show off surrounding mountain ranges and stands of saguaro cacti. The popular Fun Ride includes 10-, 5-, and ¼-mile routes. El Tour and its festivities are enjoyed by novice, intermediate, advanced and professional riders; some participate to benchmark a healthy lifestyle change or as a wellness program goal. Many are attracted to El Tour's charitable agencies for which more than $2 million was raised in 2012. Most El Tour riders enjoy the freedom to ride, meet great people, raise contributions, and have fun doing it. The next El Tour is Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. For more details, visit

Musical Revolution. This year, Tucson is being recognized for the quiet revolution that is springing from its trans-border position and the resulting richness of its diverse cultural influences. On the music front, five local groups represented Tucson at Les Escales, one of Europe's top World Music festivals, in the coastal city of Saint-Nazaire, France, August 2-3. The five - Brian Lopez, Gabriel Sullivan, Tom Walbank, Chica Dust, and Mariachi Luz de Luna - were given special focus at the festival, and festival producers will film the musicians in Tucson, in November. Les Escales showcases talent from five continents, sparks music dialogue, and encourages musical exchange and experimentation. Find more details on the Tucson Pima Arts Council website,

Build a Handmade Home. For thousands of years, traditional cultures across the Southwest and around the world have constructed their homes from natural materials sourced from where they live. Natural buildings can be made from clay, straw, and other materials, making this construction style a perfect example of sustainable living practices. Learn to build your own straw bale cottage or studio from start to finish in a hands-on workshop series presented in a beautiful setting on the Native Seeds/SEARCH farm in scenic Patagonia, 70 miles south of Tucson. The three-day workshops will take place September 13-15, 2013 and October 19-21, 2013. Learn more on

Gallery in the Sun. DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun has revamped its website to better highlight the life story and to preserve the works of legendary Tucson artist Ettore "Ted" DeGrazia. An expanded online gift shop offers a range of figurines and home décor, prints, books, and notecards created by DeGrazia during his move than 30-year career. The improvements are intended to enhance in-person visits to the museum and include detailed biographical information and curator notes, a greater variety of examples from the gallery's collection of 15,000 artworks, and an improved news and events page. The DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun 10-acre compound is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes an adobe mission and chapel, the original DeGrazia home, a gift shop, and museum galleries featuring the artist's work. Admission is free. For more information, visit

Easier to Get To. Some say Tucson is hard to find, but easy to get to. For some West Coast travelers, visiting Tucson just got easier. Alaska Airlines recently announced it will begin new nonstop service between Tucson and Portland, Ore., starting Nov. 1. Alaska's schedule shows a daily incoming flight arriving at 1:05 p.m., with the outbound at 1:35 p.m. This once daily service will be a new destination for the Tucson region, and will bring the total of nonstop destinations served by Tucson International Airport (TIA) to 15. Tickets are on sale now at Fares start at $129 each way.                                        

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