Saturday, February 17, 2018

Arizona Festivals

Arizona is a busy place this time of year. The weather is perfect, there are lots of visitors and everyone wants to be outside.
We enjoyed 2 outdoor festivals this weekend and had a wonderful time.
Saturday we drove a short distance West to the Pinal County Fairgrounds where Wertz Farms was holding its annual Gourd Festival. Gourds are a cash crop here in Arizona. The long hot growing season is perfect environment for them. 

Bins of gourds for sale.
Gourds are planted in April and grow through early Fall when farmers stop irrigating them. Once the water source is shut off they are left to dry in the fields and are harvested in February-March in time to plant the next crop.

chicken gourds

The folks at Wertz Farms put a lot of work into the festival. There are Gourd decorations throughout the Fairgrounds accompanied by funny signs and gourd related displays.

Gourd-geous decorations.
The festival includes a fair type competition for ribbons as well as a barn full of vendors showcasing their wares.
We walked the grounds admiring the seasonal displays while checking out the food offerings and then headed over to the Vendor Area.

The National Gourd was on duty
Their does not seem to be a limit to the number of things that can be created from gourds.
We saw birdhouses and bowls, Thunder drums and lamps, jewelry and vases.
They were painted and wood burned and dremeled.
Some were adorned by beads and fossils, some had edges woven from pine needles and we even saw one man that edged his gourd basket with horse hair leaving a long trailing edge on one side that resembled a mane.

Gourd Jackrabbit and cactus.
We worked up an appetite with all the walking and stopped for lunch from the fair type offerings. There was a great truck brewing coffee so we treated ourselves to iced Americanos. Fred enjoyed a sausage and pepper sandwich while I couldn't resist the smell of the smoked brisket and a homemade barbecue sauce that used cherries as its base.
Before leaving the fairgrounds we picked through the raw gourd bins and brought home 3 specimens that will be turned into Summer projects.
It was a great way to spend the morning.

Music by the Steven P. Project
Sunday we had made arrangements to see Fred's cousin Heidi who is in the Air Force and stationed in Phoenix. We planned to meet at 8 Acre Park in Surprise as they were hosting a Food Truck Festival as part of their Second Sundays in the Park series. The park was a lovely grassy space...probably the greenest we have seen in Arizona outside of a golf course. It was filled with picnic areas, games for children and a bandstand where musicians were warming up. The Steven P. Project were performing.  The entire outer edge of the park was lined with food trucks. There were the typical burgers and fries, cupcakes and ice cream mixed in with more diverse choices like Greek Gyros and Spanakopita, Mustache Pretzels, and the Maine Lobster Lady (I will get my lobstah closer to the Atlantic thank you). Southwestern foods were well represented offering, tacos, burritos, queso and fry bread. 
Fred and Heidi went for the burgers while I browsed for a while before deciding on ZPotes who specialized in Salvadoran cuisine, specifically Pupusa's a tasty flour tortilla with the stuffing cooked inside. I settled on the Pupusa de ayote, a tortilla filled with zucchini blossoms and cheese. We were all delighted with our choices. 

Our only disappointments of the day were that there was no coffee vendor and that we were eating lunch too early to enjoy the libations at the State 48 Brewery truck. 
It was great to see Heidi and to catch up with her. We are going to try meeting up at a Spring Training Game before leaving Arizona in early March.

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