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For a Taste of Tempe Tradition
Tempe Festival of the Arts

By Dave Cooper

Tempe Festival of the Arts

For a favorite twice-yearly event, Tempe creates a traffic free zone of five city blocks between 3rd Street and University on Mill Avenue. Then spring in Tempe bursts alive with the much-anticipated Tempe Festival of the Arts. From 10am to dusk March 25-27, look for three jam-packed days featuring fine arts and crafts and many forms of roving and on stage entertainment. Filling the streets will be musicians, caricature artists, jugglers, magicians, stilt walkers, face painters and even some psychics mingling about.

The idea for a Tempe Festival of the Arts started with a group of visionary thinkers back in the early 70's and has grown into a nationally recognized and award winning fair. The Mill Avenue District is a beautiful area to walk and browse, especially during the arts festival. Consistently ranked one of the nation’s top festivals by Sunshine Artist Magazine it has received the Pinnacle Award from the International Festival and Events Association.

Tempe Festival of the ArtsMore than 200,000 visitors will meander throughout the Mill Avenue District to admire the wares of more than 400 juried artisans and crafts persons from around the world. Exhibitors will show hand made original pieces representing their own work including painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, ceramics, folk craft, glass, leather, metal and woodwork and more.

The air will be alive with the sound of continuous live music featuring many great musical attractions, including jazz, blues, classic rock, pop, big band and Celtic. Among these, the jazz lineup is notable. Many of Arizona's finest jazz vocalists will be showcased, accompanied by Jazz Alive, an ensemble under the direction of Joel Robin (keyboards), Bob Lashier (bass) and Cleve Huff (drums) for two-hour daily performance at 11am, 1pm or 3pm.

The Festival Jazz Stage west of Mill Avenue on 7th Street will feature Nancy Gee, Sherry Roberson, and Bridget Maynes (Friday) Vicki McDermitt, Dennis Rowland and Hope Morgan (Saturday) and wrap up on Sunday with Margo Reed (2011 Inductee to the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame) Delphine Cortez and Blaise Lantana. Other special features at the Tempe Festival of the Arts include the popular Cottage Edibles & Crafts area offering original creations such as soup mixes, jams, Francine Reed, Delphene Cortez & Blaise Lantanaseasonings and herbal arts, unique handmade soaps, lotions and other delights. The Kids Innovation Station provides cultural and educational entertainment offering hands-on, take-home art experiences for kid's interactive entertainment and education.

To quench your thirst and appetite, adjacent to the music, located near the Festival Jazz Stage, the fair will feature the AZ Wine Festival hosted by the Arizona Wine Growers Association. Wine connoisseurs can taste up to six samplings from twelve Arizona wineries and receive a commemorative wine glass for a $10 admission. For beer lovers The Art of Beer will offer samples from three Valley microbrew pubs. Those attending these events must be at least 21-years old. More than 50 traditional and ethnic food booths will be on hand to please every palate. Don't forget the Mill Avenue District restaurants, cafes and bars that are ready to serve you with special menus of quick and easy food and drink.

Parking? Don't worry. With 8,000 public parking spaces available in the Mill Avenue District, including park-and-ride and METRO Light Rail options, you're good to go. For a complete list of event attractions, parking and transportation contact: www.tempefestivalofthearts.com.