The state and county fairs are pretty fun annual events but sometimes we want something a little more quirky than another serving of funnel cake and a ride around the ferris wheel. Here are some of the most unique festivals and fairs that you can find in Arizona.
1. Arizona Taco Festival, Scottsdale (October)
Get a bite of some of the region’s tastiest tacos, plus enjoy live music, lucha libre wrestling, and other contests.
2. Buses by the Bridge, Lake Havasu City (January)
The 2016 date will mark two decades of this festival. If you love old VW buses, check out this event and stay for the chili, hot air balloon rides, and other activities.
3. Dillinger Days, Tucson (January)
If you’re a fan of early twentieth century gangster culture and outlaws, you won’t want to miss this festival which celebrates the capture of John Dillinger. Dress up in your thirties best for reenactments, historical tours, an antique car show, and live music.
4. Food City Tamale Festival, Phoenix (December)
If you want to sample a wide variety of tamales, check out this festival which is hosted downtown. However, be sure to show up early; many of the vendors begin to sell out by 1:00pm.
5. Gathering of the Gunfighters, Yuma (January)
In mid-January each year, the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park hosts this unique, Wild West-style event. Watch groups reenact gun showdowns between a wide variety of characters and expect “lots of shootin’ and shoutin’” from everyone involved.
6. Pioneer Day Celebration, Snowflake (July)
Celebrating the pioneering spirit of previous centuries is pretty common around the state and this is no different. This event celebrates with BBQs, rodeos, dances, and plenty of other festivities.
7. Prickly Pear Festival, Superior (August)
Here’s something you probably won’t see in many other places: a festival centered around a cactus and its meat and fruit. Enjoy a hike, breakfast, and plenty of food and art featuring the cactus.
8. Roasted Chile Festival, Tucson (September)
Don’t miss this event which features some delicious Arizona-grown chiles. You can also enjoy plenty of food, live music, arts, and crafts.
9. SalsaFest, Safford (September)
You’ll find a handful of salsa festivals across the state but this one takes advantage of the peak chile season. Sample award-winning salsas, plus enjoy a car show, eating contests, and chihuahua races.
10. Sheep Is Life Celebration, Tsaile (June)
Sheep play an important role in the Navajo culture and this two-day event at Diné College celebrates that notion. The free event hosts workshops and demonstrations on animal husbandry, working with wool, and how to prepare mutton.
11. “Standin’ on the Corner” Park Festival, Winslow (September)
Celebrate Winslow’s claim to fame in this two day festival with live entertainment, a beer garden, food, arts and crafts, and children’s activities.
12. Street Eats, Scottsdale (February)
If you like the recent explosion of food trucks in Arizona, you won’t want to miss this event which hosts one of the largest food truck gatherings in the country. In addition to a wide variety of foods to eat, you can also watch cooking demonstrations and even the kids can enjoy their time with kid-centric activities.
13. Vigilante Days, Tombstone (February)
Tombstone has hosted this event to much grandeur for 67 years. Plan your visit to Tombstone around this time because you’ll find plenty of street entertainment, food, and live music.
14. Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention, Tucson (March)
An odd conglomeration of science fiction, Victorian era fashion, and Old West history, this event celebrates everything steampunk with cosplay, workshops, games, and other entertainment.
15. WisconsinFest, Fountain Hills (March)
Any of you midwestern transplants feeling homesick? Check out this festival which features some of the highlights of Wisconsin, including beer, polka music, cheese, and bratwurst.
16. Wuertz Farm Gourd Festival, Casa Grande (February)
This February festival is something you probably won’t find in many other places. You can buy plain or decorated dried gourds, check out the gourd contests, and even watch a gourd race, known as the “Running of the Gourds.”
17. Yuma Hamfest and Emergency Preparedness Show, Yuma (February)
All you preppers and hams should have this convention marked on your calendar. It’s a great place for seminars, exhibits, and purchasing items related to emergency preparedness and ham radio operation.
18. Yuma Lettuce Days, Yuma (February)
A lettuce celebration? That’s right, this annual event is held in honor of the city's designation as one of the largest winter vegetable producers in the nation. Enjoy some of the winter crop, cooking demonstrations, and other exhibitions.
Have you been to any of these? Let us know which you would recommend in the comments below!