It's that time of year again, when Tucson schools close for two days, and cowboys and girls lasso up for the 82nd Annual La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. Throw on your cowboy hats and boots, because this year, the rodeo is being celebrated over two full weekends!
Since 1925, the Celebration of the Cowboys has been attracting both locals and people from all over the globe. This famous event is known for being action-packed, and Tucson Rodeo spokesperson Joan Liess says that people can expect to have a good time and see the world's best cowboys and cowgirls in competition.
Last year's rodeo featured five rodeo performances and a bull-riding contest, but this year, buckaroos can expect to see six full rodeo performances. Aside from the rodeo performances and parade, cowboys can test their manliness by wearing pink on Sunday, Feb. 18. The Tucson Rodeo will donate $1 of every admission to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in an effort to battle breast cancer.
Last year's rodeo drew approximately 11,000 people, and Liess says that the number of out-of-state spectators usually ranges between 30 and 40 percent of the total. Events throughout the week include barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie-down roping and team roping, as well as entertainment from the Robert Moreno Band. The Tucson Rodeo Parade, which takes place this year on Thursday, Feb. 22, brought in an estimated 200,000 spectators last year.
Looking to join in on the Wild West fun? Rope some tickets and check event times at tucsonrodeo.com, or call the Tucson Rodeo Office at 741-2233. Ticket prices for bleachers and grandstand sections range from $4 to $18. Box seats are also available. Yeehaw! --K.H.
Name a country, and Mike Libecki has probably been there. Name a big cliff, and he's probably climbed it.
Libecki has been climbing for the last 15 years, and by now, he's absolutely fanatical about it. He's traveled to Greenland, Antarctica, Madagascar, China, Kyrgyzstan, Venezuela and Russia--and lots of other places--to ascend the largest, most remote vertical cliffs he can find. Some of the walls he's climbed are almost a mile high, so he's had to camp on rocky ledges in freezing weather and 30- to 40-mph winds for days at a time to get to their summits. And preparing for these trips, needless to say, consumes pretty much all the time he doesn't actually spend climbing.
But, Libecki maintains, it's more than worth it.
"The details of climbing big-wall first ascents completely alone are amazing," he told me in an e-mail. "Training is a 24/7/365 thing. ... Mental as well as physical training, as well as committing a lifestyle to it, (are) necessary. I have become obsessed with the expeditions to pursue this passion of climbing, adventure and the most important thing--mystery."
Here's the other thing: Libecki's not only a climber; he also happens to be a professional photographer and videographer. And lucky for us, he's coming to Tucson the night this issue officially hits the streets to share slides and video footage of his outdoor adventures, as well as some pretty wild stories about Antarctica and Greenland. As Libecki says, people "will feel like they get as close (as possible) to getting there without leaving home." And it's free! --A.M.
For Americans, the new year has been going on for a month and a half. But the Year of the Pig hasn't even started yet. This Sunday, on the day of the first new moon of 2007, billions of people in Asia and throughout the world will celebrate the beginning of the Chinese Lunar Year 4705.
For the Vietnamese, the new year is marked with a holiday called Tet Nguyen Dan, which begins a day before the Chinese New Year and lasts between three days and a week. During this time, Vietnamese families eat unique food, decorate and clean their houses, buy new clothes, pay off their debts and pretty much do anything else they can to begin the year with a clean slate. On the day of the new year itself, people set off firecrackers (which are said to drive away evil spirits) and watch a special dance called the lion dance.
This Saturday, you can experience the Vietnamese New Year at Dao's Tai Pan's Restaurant, where they'll have their very own lion dance and lots of good food, including the traditional Vietnamese dish of rice cakes made from sticky rice, mung bean and pork. In addition, the celebration will feature martial-arts performances led by Tucson's kung fu master Sifu Robert Lopez III, who's been teaching his art for more than 20 years.
"We always have a big crowd at this event," says Cac Dao, the restaurant's owner, "and people cheer up with these performers. If we make a lot of noise and have a big crowd, we believe we can have good business for the whole year. ... Also, I have my own wish to introduce the American people to our Vietnamese heritage."
The performances will take place outside and are free of charge. If you want to eat, though, you might want to call for reservations. --A.M.
Looking for a way to celebrate Presidents Day? You know, that day where we remember all those old guys, many of whom wore wigs, who led our country? Maybe you're a connoisseur of history and dig learning about historical figures. Well, you have the chance to do just that at the Top Hat Theatre Club on Monday, Feb. 19.
For the first time, the Top Hat Theatre Club is presenting a reading of four famous speeches--two each from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln--as a special Presidents Day event. Read by producing director James Gooden, the speeches include George Washington's first inaugural address and farewell address, as well as Lincoln's Cooper Union address and second inaugural address. Washington's farewell address included his advice to Americans to achieve the common good, and Lincoln's Cooper Union address urged the country to realize the wrongs of slavery.
"These speeches are four really fabulous examples of these two men and their place in history," says Gooden, a self-proclaimed history buff. Gooden says he will facilitate an open discussion of the speeches after they are read to explore what the people in the audience have to say about the lives of Washington and Lincoln. All members of the audience will have the opportunity to participate.
"If you're a lover of history, you might have an opportunity to share some of your ideas," says Gooden.
Oh, and did I mention that this tribute is free?
If you're itching to bone up on your history or just show some love for these remembered presidents, head on down to the Top Hat Theatre Club. No reservations are required. --K.H.