The big centennial party is heading to Prescott

Posted on by az100

Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

A main stage with Arizona performers such as Alice Cooper, military flyovers, fireworks, cultural villages and educational pavilions – state organizers envision all this and more for the Best Fest in Prescott, Sept. 16-18, that will kick off Arizona’s 2012 centennial celebration.

Three Best Fests will take place in the three cities that have been Arizona’s capital over the years, and all will “celebrate the best that Arizona has to offer,” said Ken Koziol, a consultant whose company is helping organize the events.

Organizers hope to attract 40,000-60,000 people to each of the three-day events, making it the biggest event in Arizona’s history, Koziol said. An extensive shuttle system will help get all those people into Prescott’s downtown area, he said.

It is an ambitious goal for an event that could get no state government aid beyond a few warm bodies, so organizers officially put out the call Wednesday night for a host of volunteers.

About 75 people attended the organizing kick-off event Wednesday, and several offered their ideas for the festival.

More than one person said the Prescott Best Fest should focus on the city’s history and its place as the first territorial capital.

This will be the last state in the Lower 48 to celebrate its centennial, noted another person who hopes the state will advertise the event throughout the world.

“The spirit of Arizona and its people are the most outstanding part of the community,” said Mark Edwards, who just moved here from Chicago. “We feel more at home here than anywhere we have lived.”

As Arizona’s first territorial capital, Prescott will host the first Best Fest. The festival then moves to Tucson in November and Phoenix on Feb. 10-12, the weekend before the Feb. 14 Statehood Day.

“We think it will be the biggest event Prescott has ever been part of,” Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall said Wednesday night during the meeting to kick off the effort to organize the details of the Best Fest in Prescott.

“We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to kick off this huge event,” Yavapai County Supervisor Carol Springer added.

Anyone who wants to volunteer to help organize or staff the event should call Debbie Younger at Entertainment Solutions at 480-663-0700 or by email at

People also obtain information if they are interested in setting up display booths (such as nonprofits and community groups), commercial vendor booths, special activities such as children’s games and event-support services such as fencing and equipment.

A programming committee will choose participants from the applications, and people also can volunteer for that committee. Its first meeting will be Feb. 17.

The Arizona centennial website at will soon have a Best Fest Prescott page where people can see what kind of volunteers and services are needed, view application deadlines and fill out forms. Most applications will be due sometime around March 15.

Promotion of Prescott’s Best Fest will go into high gear directly after Prescott Frontier Days and Independence Day, Koziol said. Banners, posters, billboards, flyers and brochures will help spread the word.

The Best Fests will celebrate the last 100 years as well as the next 100, Koziol said.

The backbone of all three Best Fest events will feature the educational pavilions, cultural villages, entertainment stages and beer gardens.

Organizers hope they can attract entertainers from Arizona to perform at the Best Fest, from Alice Cooper to Linda Ronstadt to the Gin Blossoms to Toni Tennille, who has a home in Prescott.

Cultural villages will celebrate the state’s American Indian, Hispanic and Western heritage. The first two will tentatively be located at the Mile High Middle School field while the latter will be on the street in front of Whiskey Row.

Museum-quality educational pavilions will focus on history, industry, culture, aviation/military, sports, natural resources and the future. The pavilions will be built to last into the future.

More performers, artists, educational booths, a centennial merchandise store, games, food booths and beer gardens will connect the villages, pavilions and main stage.

Celebrate Arizona

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