"I think there's somewhat of a hunger for things to do downtown," says Don Hamill, event coordinator for the Rainbows Festival, downtown's gay and lesbian street fair. As proof, Hamill cites the turnout for last year's celebration, the first time Rainbows Festival was held. "The reality is, you can plan all you want, but you never know how it's going to turn out until they show up," Hamill says. But 25,000 people came for the daylong party. "It was quite overwhelming." This year, Hamill expects more of the same.
At the center of the action is the Festival Garden, where the drag performer Barbra Seville hosts a lineup of local entertainers, including the Grand Canyon Men's Chorus and Arizona Women in Tune.
Hamill describes the festival's 185 exhibitors as "a good cross-section of the gay and lesbian and non-gay and lesbian community, including businesses, non-profits and other organizations." The food court boasts a variety of treats as well.
It all happens at Heritage Square Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, October 5. For details visit www.rainbowsfestival.com. - Michele Laudig
Witness the beauty of the AIDS Memorial Quilt
Witness the patience, emotion and creativity that people who've lost loved ones to a devastating disease have poured into creating the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Starting this weekend, 50 panels are on view at several Valley locations for the first time in seven years. A number of events are planned in conjunction with the event, including an opening ceremony at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts on Saturday, October 4, and a special benefit dinner on October 11. Call 602-307-5330 or visit www.phoenixbodypositive.org for details. - Michele Laudig
The Declaration of Independence comes to the Valley
Seeing a national treasure like the Declaration of Independence used to mean a road trip to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. But now one of the 25 remaining original copies is on tour, coming to the Arizona Capitol Museum on Saturday, October 4. Phoenix gets to see the only one traveling the U.S. For information, visit www.dlapr.lib.az.us/museum or call 602-542-4675. - Michele Laudig
Oktoberfest serves up celebration
"Eins, zwei, drei, vier, count to 10 and drink your beer!" We love multiculturalism. Get some Friday, October 3, through Sunday, October 5, at Tempe Town Lake's Way Out West Oktoberfest, where you'll eat, drink and polka like it's 1899. Best of all, admission is free. You don't polka? You do now. Find a Fräulein in St. Pauli Girl garb or a strapping guy in lederhosen and take to the floor. Warm up by flapping the Chicken Dance -- everyone looks elegant after that. Also check out classic rock by Mogollon and plenty of local talent.
This year, Kinderfest offers more than a dozen attractions for children. For starters, Liebchen can string beads, run the obstacle course, and wolf down pie for prizes.
Adults must visit the Bavarian beer garden serving up bratwurst, strudel and beers of the world. Proceeds from Oktoberfest food and drink sales benefit Tempe's Sister Cites Program, which last year provided wheelchairs in Macedonia and water wells in Mali.
More than 2,000 volunteers make such good deeds possible. Local artist Lisa Morley is the official Ice Queen who lugs frozen largess to vendors like the "sno-cone people, the roasted corn people, the beer garden people." Important job. "Indeed. That's why I developed the royal wave and the crown," she says. Queen Lisa has volunteered for "years and years," since the festival was held at "little red picnic tables at Tempe Beach Park."
Now, more than 200,000 revelers pack the park each year. Join them from 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, see http://community.tempe.gov/sister/oktoberfest/oktob.html or call 480-491-FEST. - Kim Toms
Documentarian turns the camera on herself
Su Friedrich has been making her own short films for close to 30 years now. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago. She is no amateur.
Friedrich is known for treating her subjects with honesty and grace in her characteristic black-and-white films. Now, facing ongoing surgical attempts to correct her own medical problems, Friedrich is becoming her own subject. Her latest film, Odds of Recovery, explores her own perspective on the issues of women's health and the effects of illness on the mind and personal relationships.
The work incorporates medical textbooks, operating room transcripts, conversations with medical staff, and a segment involving the attempts she made to learn t'ai chi. The overwhelming message: Friedrich is not giving up -- and how fortunate we are for that. Friedrich's film will be shown at Modified Arts on Tuesday, October 7, at 6 and 8 p.m. Call 602-462-5516 or visit www.modified.org for more information. - Maidi Terry
Writing workshops get underway
For more than a decade, the literary arts have gotten a boost from The Writer's Voice, a local organization devoted to emerging writers. While anyone is welcome to participate in the group's writing workshops, members get bonuses such as special seminars, a newsletter and a listserv. The popular, weekly Mother's Write series is already under way for fall, but upcoming classes cover topics from poetry to short stories to freelance writing. Individual sessions are held on weeknights or Saturday mornings, and class fees range from free to $45. For more information, visit www.writersvoice-az.org or call 480-570-2335. - Michele Laudig
Verse Case Scenario
U.S. Poet Laureate reads in Scottsdale
In his poem titled "My Life," Billy Collins writes: "I am a lake, my poem is an empty boat/And my life is the breeze that blows/Through the whole scene/Stirring everything it touches." On Friday, October 3, at 7:30 p.m., Collins will touch the lives of Arizonans as part of the Solo Voices reading series presented by the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, in cooperation with the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU. Collins is currently serving an extended mission as the U.S. Poet Laureate and has made it his goal to get poetry back into popular culture. He does it well -- his poetry is accessible, familiar, and always moving. Spending $20 on this event will not only get you within earshot of our nation's poet, it will also give you that comforting sense of not being in this alone. Call 480-994-ARTS or visit www.scottsdalearts.org for more information. - Maidi Terry
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In Farm's Way
Fall is here and the farm is open
Chili weather has finally arrived, so it's time to warm up at Schnepf Farms Pumpkin & Chili Party, held every Thursday through Sunday from now until Halloween. Guests plant $9 at the gate and reap bushels of fun. For the price of admission, spoon on a hay ride, slide down Witch Mountain, zoom through the forest in pedal cars, and pick your way through the corn maze. Root for your favorite swine at the pig races, ride the roller coaster, visit the petting barn, roast marshmallows and more. For another $4 to $8, plow through Carrie Schnepf's famous chili-and-chicken, vegetarian or hog dog dinners. Before you leave, stuff a scarecrow, harvest a basket of goodies from the bakery or peruse the patch for the perfect pumpkin. Discount tickets are available at Safeway stores. For more information, including directions to the farm, see www.pumpkinandchiliparty.com or call the Party Hotline at 480-987-3100. - Kim Toms