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Arts and Crafts, Great Music, Food, Beer, Wine, Kid’s Stuff and More
The Tempe Festival of the Arts

By Dave Cooper
additional material by Mariah Fleming

Tempe Festival of the Arts

Twice a year, Mill Avenue’s trendy enclave of shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars fill with an abundance of artists, troubadours and shoppers ready for the Tempe Festival of the Arts. This year’s fall event is scheduled this weekend December 2, 3 & 4 from 10:00am until dusk each day. During the festival, the nearly one-mile corridor of Mill Ave. between University Drive & Rio Salado Parkway will close to vehicle traffic, turning the area into a family friendly walking excursion, complete with a great ‘kids zone’. The Tempe Festival of the Arts is a free event attracting nearly a quarter of a million visitors. The bi-annual festival consistently ranks among the Top 200 art festivals in the nation. It has also received the Pinnacle Award from the International Festival and Events Association.

Since its inception in the early 1970’s, the Tempe Festival of the Arts has been a Valley favorite. The fun has been handed down from generation to generation.Tempe Festival of the Arts The festival features a high-caliber of creative talent and a family friendly atmosphere. A wide variety of artistic categories will be displayed, ranging from woodwork to photography, jewelry and sculpture. You’ll find ceramics, metal, paintings, and glass – even wearable art. And to top it off, you’ll hear some of the best live music around on several stages set up adjacent to the Art of Beer and Wine Festival Gardens.

The Tempe Festival of the Arts is famous for its bazaar-like atmosphere, luring both bargain hunters and art collectors. Roving and street entertainers will be on-site performing all three days throughout the entire Mill Avenue festival grounds, including musicians, jugglers, comedians, magicians, face painters, caricaturists, and more. Cameo Circle, on the corner of 5th street and Mill, will feature a cavalcade of rotating appearances with various festival street entertainers. Performances are noon until 4:45pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Mill Avenue minus vehicle traffic is the perfect place for meandering through artisan booths, listening to live music, watching dozens of street performers and munching at the food courts.

Tempe Festival of the Arts - Cheryl Evans / The Arizona Republic

Kids go crazy for the Kids Zone at the festival. This year’s Tempe Festival of the Arts features the Kids Innovation Station, a hands-on experience offering free take-home art experiences for kids interactive entertainment and education. Also check out the original creations at the Cottage Edibles & Crafts Area, where you’ll delight in the array of jams, soup mixes, seasonings and herbal arts, as well as handmade soaps and other delights.

Strolling among throngs of artists, performers and other festivalgoers can develop a voracious appetite and powerful thirst. Not to worry. Food and drink will be plentiful and there’s a variety of food to tempt every palate. You’ll find a delectable array of taste sensations at many vendor locations along Mill Ave. and side streets. Samples of favorite festival foods being served include BBQ, kettle corn and fry bread, hot dogs, Cajun and Asian foods, and much more. Food courts offer a wide selection of snacks like ice cream, fudge, dipped fruit, glazed nuts, and assorted soft drinks. The Mill Avenue District is also renowned for its various restaurants and eateries. If you prefer a sit down meal, and a place to rest your feet, you’ll be welcomed.

For adults craving a special little touch of the grape or a cold brew, you’ll find it at the Tempe Festival of the Arts. The Arizona Wine Growers Association welcomes you to the Arizona Wine Festival Gardens, serving selections from twelve Arizona wineries.Arizona Wine Festival Gardens Wine tasting samples are available with the option to purchase glasses, bottles, and cases of wine. Next door, the Art of Beer /> Wine tasting samples are available with the option to purchase glasses, bottles, and cases of wine. Next door, the Art of Beer Garden salutes three local microbreweries by offering a variety of samples and beer by the glass. Beer and wine gardens are on 7th Street just west of Mill Avenue. Guests must be at least 21 and provide identification. Conveniently located adjacent to the Art of Beer and Wine Festival Gardens is the Festival Stage featuring live music. Celebrated flamenco guitar sensation Esteban will perform Friday at 11:00am. Esteban will also perform Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am until 6:00pm at the Esteban Stage on 6th Street east of Mill Ave.

Saturday’s Festival Stage schedule presents a dynamic lineup of performers representing Chicks with Picks the noteworthy Arizona organization promoting female talent in all music genres. At the festival, these award-winning performers will represent some of the best Chicks With Picks winners. You can hear Carey Slade at 11:00am with the Sarah McAllister Duo playing until noon. At 1:30pm, the Mary Hoffman Duo is on tap. And be sure to stick around for the distinct sound of Teneia Sanders at 3:00pm. The Haven James Band will close out the Festival Stage Saturday at 4:00pm. On Sunday, the Festival Stage will jazz things up with versatile keyboardist Joel Robin hosting a trio of singing jazz divas.Chicks With Picks The sensational Valley favorite Margo Reed will perform at 11:00am. And don’t miss Delphine Cortez at 1:00pm and Hope Morgan at 3:00pm.

Popular transportation to the Tempe Festival of the Arts includes bus routes and light rail. Trip planning options can be found at Valley Metro. Both are convenient and inexpensive. If you plan on driving, you’ll want to be aware of neighborhood road closures and designated parking areas. For details of all festival-related information visit TempeFestivaloftheArts.com.