Prescott will host centennial kick-off in September 2011

Posted on by az100

Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT – With less than a year to go before the start of the Arizona Centennial celebration, planning work is ramping up for Prescott’s kick-off event.

City and state officials say Prescott will be the site of the opening “Arizona Centennial Best Fest” on Sept. 16, 17, and 18, 2011. Later Best Fest events will take place in Tucson and Phoenix, leading up to the 100th anniversary of Arizona Statehood in February 2012.

At a workshop at 2 p.m. Tuesday, the Prescott City Council will hear a presentation on what is in store for community. At the same time, centennial organizers are hoping to get buy-in from local officials.

Karen Churchard, director of the Arizona Centennial Commission, said the presentation is the final step before a private event-planning firm will get started in earnest on the plans for the Prescott event.

“We’re not moving forward until we get that final ‘yes,'” Churchard said Thursday of the event plans that will be presented to the council this week.

Added Prescott Tourism Director Donald Prince: “We want to make sure the council’s informed about the magnitude (of the event).”

By all accounts, the Best Fest could be one of Prescott’s largest celebrations ever.

Prescott Tourism Director Donald Prince said he expects the “footprint” for the celebration to extend well beyond the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza to outlying streets such as Willis, Granite, and Marina.

And, Prince said, the three-day event should be considerably larger than the July 4 Frontier Days Parade, which annually brings thousands of people to downtown Prescott.

Churchard explained that the concept for the Best Fest is a “street festival showcasing the best of Arizona.”

Along with standard street-festival activities, Churchard said the Best Fest also likely would feature large pavilions displaying things such as Arizona art and history. Organizers plan to reach out to the state’s top artists and craftsmen, she said.

High-profile entertainment also will be a central part of the event. Churchard said organizers will be looking for “entertainers with national appeal who have a tie to our state.”

To help bring the centennial celebration together, the state has contracted with Entertainment Solutions, a firm that has coordinated large events such as the Phoenix-area Fiesta Bowl Block Party and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

Prince said he expects the Prescott event to garner statewide, and perhaps national, media attention.

While the Arizona Centennial Commission will be leading the way in the planning, officials say the event will be a collaborative effort.

“We’ve been working with the local centennial committees,” Churchard said.

Prince noted that his department will be “working with the state, helping them in any way we can.”

For instance, he said Prescott officials likely would be helping to get the necessary permits for the event, as well as with marketing.

In addition, Prince said, “They’re looking for involvement from local groups.”

Churchard said Ken Koziol of Entertainment Solutions would be making the presentation to the council on Tuesday. The meeting will take place at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

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