Maricopa County Fair: The 21st annual event--a cozier, countrier version of Arizona State Fair--opens Thursday, April 25, and continues daily, through Sunday, May 5, at the fairgrounds, 19th Avenue and McDowell. Highlights include carnival rides and games on the midway; a musical tribute to the Beatles and other musical performances; the Gale Webb Sports Show, featuring "Motocross Mom" Webb and her daredevil brood of 'boarders, skaters and cyclers; and the usual array of agriculture and livestock competitions and exhibits. See "At the Fair" in Kid Pics for details about "Pay-One-Price" days and a few of the more youth-intensive activities. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays to midnight. Admission is $5, $3 for children ages 6 to 12, free for younger kids. For details call 252-0717.
Terence Blanchard Quintet: If New Orleans jazzman Blanchard lacks a household name like that of his fellow Crescent City residents the Marsalises, he's still one of the genre's bright hopes. Though relatively young, the former member of Art Blakey's Messengers is a master of the trumpet, and he's become a hot property in the world of film after major contributions to the soundtracks of several Spike Lee joints, including Malcolm X and Crooklyn. The Columbia recording artist and his band perform at 7 and 10 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at Geckos, 7316 East Stetson in Scottsdale. Tickets are $18, available at the club and Ticketmaster. Call 947-1000 or 784-4444.
Relache: The eight-piece, Philadelphia-based new-music ensemble premires a new work by Philip Glass during concerts at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at Gammage Auditorium, Mill and Apache in Tempe; and the same time Friday, April 26, at La Sala, located in the University Center Building on the Arizona State University West campus, 4701 West Thunderbird in Glendale. The Gammage show concludes the venue's "On-Stage" series, in which audience members are seated onstage with the performers; tickets are $14, available at the scene and Dillard's (call 965-3434 or 678-2222). Tickets to the Glendale show are $10, $8 for seniors, $5 for students with ID (call 543-2787).
Country Thunder USA: The three-day, outdoor twang fest in Queen Creek is one of the Southwest's top showcases for contemporary country, Nashville-style. Performances by Martina McBride, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Billy Ray Cyrus, Asleep at the Wheel, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and many others are planned (see the Music listing for the daily lineups). The entertainment commences at noon Friday, April 26; 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 27; and 9:30 a.m. Sunday, April 28. Reserved seats and primitive camping sites are available. Call 966-9920 or Dillard's at 678-2222.
The Boys From Syracuse: Ethington Theatre at Grand Canyon University, 3300 West Camelback, wraps up its "Reconstructing Shakespeare"-themed season with the vaudeville-style romp, penned by Rodgers, Hart and Abbott and based on the Bard's The Comedy of Errors; see the dual review of The Boys and Arizona State University's production of The Comedy on page 65. Final performances of Syracuse are at 8 p.m. Friday, April 26; and the same time Saturday, April 27. Tickets are $8, $6.50 for seniors and kids; call 589-2871.
Desert Bloom '96: Model gardens and landscaping tips and exhibits galore are the attractions at the sixth annual affair, scheduled Friday, April 26; Saturday, April 27; and Sunday, April 28, at Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, in Papago Park. Daily hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $10, $6 for seniors, $4 for garden members, $2 for children ages 5 to 12; regular garden admission is included. Younger kids are admitted free. Gratis parking and shuttle rides are available at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, 5999 East Van Buren. For details call 266-2644, 234-0840 or 941-1225.
Phoenix Roadrunners Playoffs: The International Hockey Leaguers continue their first-round, best-of-five series against the Las Vegas Thunder with game three at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, at Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, 19th Avenue and McDowell. Game four, if necessary, will be at the same time Saturday, April 27, at the coliseum; the deciding fifth game, if required, will be in Vegas on Tuesday, April 30. Home tickets range from $12 to $21, available at the coliseum and Ticketmaster. Call 340-0001 or 784-4444.
Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band: Ida Guillory, a school-bus driver turned multiple Grammy winner, brings her accordion and her San Francisco-based crew back to the Valley on Friday, April 26, for the band's annual concert 'neath the stars at Scottsdale Center for the Arts Amphitheater, 7380 East Second Street. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $22 the day of the show, available at the center and Ticketmaster. For details call 994-2787 or 784-4444.
Maricopa County Fair: See Thursday.
Relache: See Thursday.
X Games Road Show 1996: The free, Gen X-friendly collection of exhibitions, competitions and music, formerly named the "Extreme Games," starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 27, at Encanto Park, 15th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard. The nationally touring extravaganza features in-your-face demonstrations of hot sports like mountain biking, rock climbing, in-line skating and skateboarding; participatory events; and music by Shoveljerk, Aunt Bettys, and Gravity Kills (Shoveljerk plays a separate show on Sunday, April 28; see the Music listing). Call 249-4548.
Aunt Rita's Foundation Auction and Bake Sale: The eighth annual fund raiser is slated for noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Icehouse, 429 West Jackson, and features appearances by various Valley media personalities, a silent auction, music and more. Admission is free; proceeds from sales benefit the foundation, a support group for those with HIV or AIDS. For details call 906-0355.