City Week

Fantasy Land Fun

Valley of the Moon Fantasy Tour

7 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15

Valley of the Moon

2544 E. Allen Road


Celebrate Tucson's birthday trippy-fairy-tale style, complete with gnomes, fairies and magic, at Valley of the Moon, a Tucson attraction built by George Phar Legler nearly 80 years ago.

The fantasyland, which runs completely on private donations, will re-open this Saturday to celebrate the Old Pueblo's birthday, after being closed most of the summer due to heat and for restorations, says Carol Thomas, vice president at Valley of the Moon.

The park is made up of about 2 1/2 acres of desert landscape mixed with the fairytale theme.

"It's a historical fairy fantasyland; there's a lot of desert land, but a lot of original artwork by the founder ... (like) fairy houses, grottos (and) a lot of original stonework and artwork," Thomas explains.

This weekend's celebration will feature historic tours of the park, as well as cake and a live saxophone performance.

While the fantasy setting has themes like magic and fairies, Thomas says the event is something everyone can enjoy.

"I think that Valley of the Moon has a charm that can appeal to anyone of any age," she says.

Some of the caves are still closed due to restoration, Thomas says, but despite the closures, the celebration will be a treat for Tucsonans.

"I think I was 24 the first time I went out there, and I was absolutely captivated by it," she explains.

The tour will be open to everyone, from Valley of the Moon first-timers to those who have experienced the magic in years past—and the event is free to all.

"We're excited to celebrate another birthday in the Old Pueblo, so we hope to see lots of people come celebrate with us," Thomas says. —A.B.


An Afternoon of Unnatural Selection

4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 16

Rogue Theatre

300 E. University Blvd.


The improv portion of On the Origin of Species apparently didn't make it into Charles Darwin's final draft, but he's still somehow become quite an influential figure on the subject, particularly in Tucson.

The Charles Darwin Experience, a UA comedy troupe, will be teaming up with members of the Rogue Theatre to put on an improv show designed to thank those who have donated—and anyone who still wants to donate—to Rogue for the renovation of the Historic Y's auditorium into the new Rogue Theatre.

Cynthia Meier, managing director and performer at the Rogue Theatre, says that John Shartzer is a member of both the Charles Darwin Experience and the Rogue Theatre—so he has bridged the two groups.

Meier says that the afternoon will consist of several types of improv games that may be familiar to the audience, thanks to programs like Whose Line Is It Anyway? She says that a segment will feature one of Shartzer's specialties: improvising songs.

The performance will also include at least one section of long-form improvisation. Unlike the more familiar short-form, explains Meier, long-form improv is more story-oriented and "not just looking for a quick laugh." She says that this form allows the performers a chance to create a relationship or scenario while building up a more elaborate theme—something that would be a difficult task without the added time.

Meier says she's relieved and thankful that after years of moving around, the Rogue Theatre has finally found a permanent home. The performance is free for those who have already donated to the renovation, and those who have not will be given the chance to donate any amount at the event. —S.J.

Retro Tucson

La Fiesta at La Siesta

6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 15

La Siesta Motel

1602 N. Oracle Road


In honor of Tucson's 234th birthday, La Siesta Motel is hosting a celebration that will include more than just balloons, cake and tunes.

The motel—built in 1941—is located along Oracle Road, an area that was once Tucson's main drag, and is home to a lot of history.

To celebrate this vibrant past, historian Demion Clinco will be giving a presentation called the "Road Rage Slideshow," which will include photos from then and now, outlining the area's growth.

"He'll be talking about the Miracle Mile/Oracle corridor, about the motels that were built here on this street—why they were built here, and how they came about," explains Steve Rendon, La Siesta's owner. "A lot of the places were built in the '30s, '40s and '50s (when) this was the main corridor into Tucson."

Beyond Clinco's presentation, two musical acts are performing at the birthday fiesta. El Mariachi Tapatio, a group founded in 1990, will perform traditional mariachi music along with Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson, a 15-member nonprofit mariachi youth group.

"This is going to be a huge event for the little two hours we have allotted for it, so we're really excited," says Kimberly Underwood, who works in marketing and sales at the motel.

Food, drinks and birthday cake will be served, and classic cars will be on display, Underwood says.

"The audience that we're targeting is everyone," Underwood explains, "everyone who wants to hear live music and who is interested in the history of the area, as well as the family-friendly (crowd)."

The fiesta starts at 6:30. Call 624-1192 for more information. —A.B.

Let Them Eat Cake!

Tucson Birthday Cake Competition

5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 20

Hotel Congress

311 E. Congress St.


Next Thursday, as part of Tucson's birthday and in celebration of the opening of the Fourth Avenue underpass, you can have your cake, and eat it, too, at Hotel Congress' first annual Tucson Birthday Cake Competition.

The competition (which will follow the 4 p.m. opening of the Fourth Avenue underpass) will feature cakes created by more than a dozen local bakers, all competing for the honor to say they've baked Tucson's Best Birthday Cake.

In the past, Congress has been known for providing the Old Pueblo's birthday cake, but this year, the good folks there decided to switch it up a little bit.

"We've been sort of a designated birthday-cake place for the past few years, where we just built a cake and sang happy birthday and gave free cake to everyone," says entertainment director David Slutes. "This year, we thought we'd do it a little different, and get several of Tucson's finest bakers to compete in a cake-off."

Mayor Bob Walkup, KOLD Channel 13 chief meteorologist Chuck George and Tucson Symphony Orchestra director/conductor George Hanson, among others, will judge the cakes in two categories: Best in Show, and Best-Tasting Cake, explains Congress banquets manager Deborah Kelly.

After the judging, guests at the event will sing "Happy Birthday" to Tucson and then dig in to the ultimate birthday treat: the cakes themselves. Guests will also be able to cast their vote for their favorite cake, Kelly says.

Musical performances from The Tucson Barber Shop Harmony Chorus and the Tucson Symphony Percussion Ensemble will also be part of the celebration, Slutes explains.

Admission is free; just don't forget your birthday hat and appetite! —A.B.

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