State's best at fest in Prescott

Posted on by az100
by Ron Dungan – Sept. 15, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

The streets of Prescott weren’t always lined with art galleries and coffee shops.

The town, which did a stint as the territorial capital, was once a hub of government and commerce, where miners, cowboys and soldiers gathered. The Earps lived there for a time. The governor lived in a modest log home.

Prescott will celebrate Arizona’s statehood centennial by commemorating the state’s role in everything from the Wild West to space exploration. The Prescott Best Fest takes place downtown Friday through Sunday.


The sprawling event will include a history pavilion, military pavilion, renewable-energy booth and a presentation on Arizona contributions to NASA’s Mars exploration program. Family entertainment will include magicians, clowns and activities for kids. There will be entertainment on eight stages, a Hispanic village, food demonstrations and an Indian village representing traditions and dwellings of Arizona’s tribes. There also will be a Western town, mock gunfights, acting and re- enacting, stagecoaches, wine and beer gardens and an art show.

“These (displays) are virtually miniature museums,” said Mandi Wimmer, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Centennial Commission. “What we really wanted to do was embrace the entire state.”

The pavilions will represent the various ethnic groups, landscapes and industries that have informed the state’s history.

“We wanted to celebrate anything that has anything to do with Arizona and bring it to Prescott,” Wimmer said. The event will later travel to Tucson and Phoenix.

Musical acts include Jordin Sparks, Wayne Newton, Nils Lofgren, the Tubes and Jerry Riopelle, all of whom have Arizona connections.

Sharlot Hall Museum will host several presentations on pioneer life during the weekend and will present a play on Arizona mining mogul Charles Poston. For a full schedule of the museum’s events, go to

You can also duck out of the swirl of events to see a movie at the Arizona Centennial Film Festival. “Tom Mix,” “3:10 to Yuma” and “Three Amigos!” are among the movies that will be screened. Details at

Cowboy Poets

While downtown Prescott revels, cowboy poets and musicians will perform at the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering. The event takes place today through Saturday at Yavapai College. The organization strives to invite singers and poets from working ranches, or those who have ranged in the past.

The event kicks off at 7 tonight, when Don Edwards performs in the Elks Opera House in Prescott. The rest of the performances are at the college.

On Friday, poetry and music sessions begin at noon. There will be eight sessions throughout the day. The evening program begins at 7 p.m., when Bill Snow Jr. and Canadian singer-songwriter Eli Barsi take the stage. They will be joined by four poets and singers.

Saturday’s daytime sessions will feature 50 poets and musicians. The Desert Sons of Tucson will perform the evening program..

Reach the reporter at or 602-444-4847.

Celebrate Arizona

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