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Men in Tights and Stuff

Arizona Renaissance Festival
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays and President's Day, through March 27
Seven miles east of Apache Junction on U.S. Highway 60
(520) 463-2700; www.renfestinfo.com

I was cruising around the Arizona Renaissance Festival Web site when I noticed a "weddings" section in the navigation bar. Intrigued and just slightly horrified, I clicked on it and learned that if you care to get hitched at the Arizona Renaissance Festival, you may, for anywhere from $375 to $2,250, depending on the package.

This has nothing to do with anything, really; I just thought it was mighty interesting.

Anyway, the festival describes itself as a "30-acre village with the king and his court, castles and cottages, kitchens, pubs and artisans hawking their wares. It's hijinks meets history with costumed characters, comedy, music, the new Fairhaven Feast Hall and jousting knights."

I would now like to point out how mature I am, based on the fact that I did not make a smart-ass remark about the "jousting knights."

Anyway, I am digressing again. In all seriousness, the Renaissance Festival looks to be quite a hoot, including 12 stages of entertainment, artisans, a cast of 2,000 "colorfully costumed characters" and two daily "Pleasure Feasts" ($79.95; cost includes admission to the festival; reservations can be made through the Web site). Unfortunately, it's also quite a drive; according to Mapquest, it's about a 100-mile trek from Tucson. But, hey, they have "jousting knights"!

Tickets are available in advance for $16 for adults, $6 for kids (kids under 5 are free) at Fry's grocery stores; you'll pay $2 at the gate, and seniors get $15 tickets at the gate. Season passes are $90 for adults and $40 for the wee ones.


Poetry, Cowboy-Style

Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering
Feb. 4 through 6
Buena Performing Arts Center
5225 Buena School Blvd., Sierra Vista
(520) 249-2511; www.cowboypoets.com

If you've never heard cowboy poetry before, put it down on your list of things to do.

It's a distinctly Western art form that's sometimes moving, sometimes hilarious and sometimes hokey. It's something worth experiencing--even if it means a drive to Sierra Vista. (This assumes the Baxter Black event at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4 at Trail Dust Town is too expensive at $50 a pop.)

The town at the base of the Huachuca Mountains will host the annual Cochise County Poetry and Music Gathering this weekend, featuring two nights (Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.) and one day (Sunday at 2 p.m.) of performances, each featuring seven or eight performers. The event will also include mini-concerts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Buena High School.

Brenn Hill is scheduled to highlight Friday's performance. Named Male Vocalist of the Year by the Academy of Western Music, he's "the hottest name on the Western music charts," says the news release. But you want poetry, and you'll get it from Yvonne Hollenbeck, a Will Rogers Award winner "who captivated audiences last year with her humor and charm."

Saturday's performance will star "New Mexico First Lady of Song" Kip Calahan, along with Arizona rancher Steve Lindsey. Sunday's is slated to feature Hill and other well-knowns.

Tickets for the Friday and Saturday performances are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and military members (active or retired) and $6 for kids; the price for adults drops to $15 for the Sunday matinee. Oh, and the Saturday mini-concerts are free.


The Ring's the Thing

Opening reception for 200 Rings
6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5
Obsidian Gallery
4320 N. Campbell Ave. No. 130
577-3598; www.obsidian-gallery.com

For some art that's different than the standard gallery fare, head on up to Obsidian Gallery at St. Philip's Plaza starting Saturday, Feb. 5 to check out 200 Rings.

The exhibit features--you'll never guess--200 rings (!) from a variety of artists: 100 from the United States, and 100 from outside the country. The traveling exhibit was curated by Bob Ebendorf, of the East Carolina University of Art, and its originating gallery, San Francisco's Velvet da Vinci Gallery. The exhibit is based on the book 1000 Rings, by Ebendorf and Marthe LeVan.

What should you expect from the exhibit? Thus spoke the press release: "The artists involved have used a variety of techniques and materials, some traditional and some not. The sculptural quality of contemporary jewelry is particularly inherent to ring design. Expect surprises, innovation and beauty."

A quick gander at some photos at the Obsidian Gallery Web site reveals this quote has some merit: Witness Sonja Bischur's "Spiral Ring," a gold-colored spiral which looks like something you could actually wear, or VanRenselaer's "Garden Ring," which you could not wear, seeing as something that looks like a branch with leaves is sprouting from the ring. (Wearing such jewelry would make it quite challenging to, say, scratch one's self.)

The exhibit opens with a 6 to 9 p.m. reception on Feb. 5 and continues through March 26. The gallery's normal hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; call for more information.


The Year of the Rooster

Chinese New Year Festival
1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 5
Tucson Children's Museum
200 S. Sixth Ave.
792-9985

It's New Year's all over again. Except this time, there will be no dropping, shiny balls in large public squares, nor will there be drunken renditions of "Auld Lang Syne."

Instead, there will be dancing lions, calligraphy and craft-making.

Yes, we're talking about Chinese New Year, and specifically, the annual celebration at the Tucson Children's Museum. The good TCM folks are again partnering with the Tucson Chinese School for the event, which includes all of the above-mentioned activities and more.

Last year's celebration drew more than 300 people, says TCM spokeswoman Peggy Solís, and they're hoping for at least that many attendees this year. They're also hoping for better weather so the evil-spirit-banishing Lion Dance--featuring four or five lions with three or four students in each costume--can take place in the museum's courtyard, as opposed to last year, when rains forced the performance indoors.

"It looks like good weather," Solís says, her fingers presumably crossed.

In addition to featuring the dance, the event will welcome in the Year of the Rooster with traditional songs in Mandarin and Cantonese. Kids will be able to make bookmarks with their birth year's representative animal, take home a special New Year's saying done by an in-person Chinese calligrapher and engage in crafts such as paper-cutting and paper-folding. ("It's like origami, but it's just not called origami," Solís helpfully explains.)

All of this comes with the cost of admission to the museum: $3.50 for children, $5.50 for adults and $4.50 for seniors.

More by Jimmy Boegle

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