"It's like taking a vacation and being a dictator for two days," says Mimi Altree, the actress playing Queen Elizabeth in the 21st annual Devonshire Renaissance Faire. "But it's good to be the queen, even if it's for only a few days." Altree has played Elizabeth I at the Faire for seven years. She now lives in Georgia, but travels back every year. "This year, I am starting something new: a history question and answer -- sort of Stump the Queen,' I call it," she says. As Elizabeth, Altree wanders around and engages people in stunts, skits and improvisations. "We try to give them a taste of what it would be like to run into some rude Elizabethans."
According to board member Lauri Alexander, the Faire this year includes five stages, four of which have full-time entertainment, including Shakespeare readings, magicians, live-scale arena fighting, and tournaments. In addition, there will be arts and crafts vendors, and authentic medieval food (turkey legs and bread bowls). Sorry, no deep-fried Oreos.
And the queen asks that you stop by and say hello. "I'm the one in funny clothes making an idiot of myself," says Altree. "I am the queen of the idiots."
The Devonshire Renaissance Faire runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 22, and Sunday, November 23, at Los Olivos Park, 2802 East Devonshire. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children 6 to 15; children 5 and under get in free. Bring a non-perishable food item for $1 off. For information call 623-340-3212 or 480-833-2587, or visit www.devonshirefaire.com.- Quetta Carpenter
As Shepherds Watched Their Rocks By Night
Let there be light in Sedona
Clark Griswold would wet his pants. More than one million lights spruce up Sedona for the 13th annual Red Rock Fantasy, where a "lights-on ceremony" flips the switch on holiday spirit at 4:45 p.m. this Friday, November 21. Fifty displays created by families from across the Southwest light up the city for kids' activities, concerts and carriage rides; festivities continue nightly through January 4. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for ages 4 to 12, with proceeds benefiting the Institute of EcoTourism. See www.redrockfantasy.com for a schedule of events. - Jill Koch
Get some wine downtown
Two weeks ago, the wine genie granted the wish of downtown denizens who dream of stepping outside and walking a short distance (depending on where, exactly, they live or work) to get a decent glass of vino. Cheuvront Wine & Cheese Bar, at 1326 North Central, serves light sandwiches and salads for lunch, and features hors d'oeuvres and gourmet cheese plates in the evening. While wine is obviously the point at this sleek, modern hangout, owner and State Senator Ken Cheuvront raves about another house specialty: pumpkin bread pudding drizzled with caramel. Call 602-307-0022 for details. - Michele Laudig
A sari affair gets underway
Indulge an India notion this Sunday, November 23, when the India Association of Phoenix illuminates the country's culture with Diwali ("festival of lights"). From 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., the second annual celebration of Indian art, heritage and history colors Heritage Square, Sixth Street and Monroe, with children's activities, mehendi (henna) body painting and fireworks. The culturally curious can experience authentic food, song and dance, art, books and jewelry, as well as take in wedding ceremony reenactments, fashion shows, cooking demos, and lectures on yoga, astrology, homeopathy and Indian architecture. Admission is free. For more information, see www.azindia association.com. - Jill Koch
'Bert So Good
Gear up for Gilbert Days
Valley newcomers missing that hometown feeling should head back east to Gilbert, Arizona's biggest small town. Gilbert Days celebrates civic pride this Saturday, November 22, and Sunday, November 23, starting with a parade at 11 a.m. Saturday; it begins at Gilbert and Juniper roads and heads south to the town square at Gilbert and Warner, site of the weekend's arts, crafts and entertainment. Afterward, families can catch the car show, the Old West Show, and the Li'l Dudes Rodeo, where youngsters in itty-bitty chaps bust mutton (ride sheep). Young'uns can also enjoy train and pony rides, plus the Kids' Carnival. Grown-ups can race a 1K or 5K and refuel at the beer garden. And if Buster's been a good boy, bring him to the dog races and pet parade. Festivities run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. For details call 480-980-7108 or see www.gilbertdays.com. - Kim Toms
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Tour local artists' studios
Got a proclivity for creativity? Head for the hills. Over the next two weekends, the Sonoran Arts League presents its seventh annual Hidden in the Hills Artists Studio Tour and Art Sale. The free self-guided tour lets folks glimpse more than 100 artists at work in 31 studios throughout Cave Creek, Carefree and north Scottsdale.
"SAL's Hidden in the Hills event provides a rare opportunity to meet and talk with the artists while gleaning insight into their creative processes and tools of their trade," says Ralph Deuschle, Sonoran Arts League president.
The hill-a-minute tour starts Friday, November 21, through Sunday, November 23 -- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily -- and repeats the following weekend, November 28 through 30. Free tour maps are available at locations throughout the Valley -- including the Carefree/Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce and the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau -- and can be downloaded at www.SonoranArtsLeague.org. Call 480-488-3381 for more information. - Jill Koch