Arizona Best Fest Celebrates the Grand Canyon State as it Turns 100March 15, 2012
By Ana Anguiano
It’s time for Arizona to blow out its birthday candles, all 100 of them. On February 14, Phoenix will be the place to be.
Whether you’re a native or a transplant, there are plenty of festivities to bring everyone together. The Arizona Centennial Commission and the 2012 Foundation present the Arizona Best Fest this weekend and there’s something for everyone.
The celebration will take over the Arizona Capitol, stretching from 10th Avenue to 17th Avenue on the west, along the recently remodeled Washington Street, which will soon be renamed “Centennial Way.”
The two-day festival will feature heavy hitting musical headliners. On Saturday, Jerry Riopelle, Michelle Branch and Gin Blossoms will perform on the main stage. George Benson will take to The Capitol Copper Dome Mainstage on Sunday.
There will be plenty to eat and drink, including an Arizona wine garden, hosted by the Arizona Wine Growers Association. Local vintners will discuss their craft and their product. Local beers will be available at the Arizona craft beer showcase.
Follow up your drinking trip through the Best Fest at the art show. A variety of artists will have their work on display. There will be live demonstrations, too.
Bikers from all across the country ride from Mesa to the capital, revving their engines and making their presence known. Country music star and Arizona local Dierks Bentley will lead the way along with the Copper Chopper, the centennial mascot.
Visitors are welcome to register to join the 16 mile ride that will stretch from Mesa Riverview to the site of Best Fest. This is also the ideal moment to see the centennial’s mascot in all of its glory.
The Arizona Centennial Copper Chopper, designed and hand-made by Paul Yaffe, a celebrated motorcycle designer and native, will help guide the motorcycles. Chopper owners have up until the morning of Best Fest to register and join in the ride.
Families will have plenty of ground to cover, too, as there will be both a family fun zone for children of all ages, and various education pavilions. The University of Arizona is bringing ‘Science and the Future Pavilion,’ a look back at all the work UofA has done in their research departments. Faculty and students will be on hand to discuss topics such as sustainability and space.
APS has their own solar-powered pavilion that explains how solar energy works in action. Get in touch with mother nature in a fun way. The National Resources Pavilion will have experts on hand to discuss the state of Arizona in terms of its unique resources. There will be a virtual hike available and a “fly-over” of the Grand Canyon.
History buffs can learn how Arizona came to be 100 at the Arizona History Pavilion. If you can’t get enough history, head to the Arizona Military Pavilion and see just how interwoven the military was in Arizona history.
The Arizona Best Fest will also include several cultural villages that educate visitors on different cultures such as American Indian and Hispanic. Inside, guests can learn about the cultures’ traditions through their food, clothing and dance. There is even a Western Village that incorporates saloons, gun shots and cowboy hats.
State Capitol Mall, Downtown Phoenix, az100years.org, Saturday, February 11,
12 p.m. – 10 a.m., Sunday, February 12,
12 p.m. – 6 p.m., free