Things to Do

10 Nerdy Things to Do This February in Metro Phoenix

The Phoenix Idiotarod will roll through the streets of downtown on February.
The Phoenix Idiotarod will roll through the streets of downtown on February. Benjamin Leatherman
The selection of nerd-friendly activities happening in the Valley in February is nothing if not diverse. To wit: Over the next few weeks, you can score rare books, learn about quilting, pilot a decorated shopping cart while dressed in costume, or even hail Satan. Plus, there’s the chance to meet the actor behind Krrsantan from The Book of Boba Fett, attend outdoor screenings of indie flicks, or make like Ross and Rachel from Friends.

Yeah, like we said, diverse.

Read on for more details about each of these events and get ready to geek out.

Arizona Renaissance Festival

If you missed out on the opening weekend of the Arizona Renaissance Festival, 12601 East US Highway 60 in Gold Canyon, don’t sweat it. There are still seven weekends left in its 2022 run and all of its usual revelry – including artisans, entertainment, memorable characters, jousting, rides, games, feasting, feats of skill, more merriment than you can shake a souvenir wooden sword at – will await you. The 50-acre attraction, which recreates a 16th-century Tudor village, has been open almost every spring since 1989 (save for a hiatus last year due to the pandemic) and will be open each weekend, rain or shine, through April 3. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. General admission is available online in advance for $29 for adults and $19 for children 5 to 12. Tickets can also be purchased at the festival box office for $30 for adults, $27 for seniors 60 and active/retired military personnel and their spouses (with ID), $17 for children 5 to 12, and free for kids 4 and under.

Indie Film Fest

Like its name portends, this three-night festival from Thursday, February 10, to Saturday, February 12, will offer a multitude of independent flicks, ranging from dramatic and documentary features to shorts, music videos, and even multimedia installations. Multiple events will take place at various locations in downtown Phoenix, including a mixer at 6 p.m. on Friday, February 11, at The Churchill, 901 North First Street, followed by an indie filmmaker discussion panel at Cahokia, 707 North Third Street, at 8 p.m. Free outdoor screenings will be held at the Roosevelt Row Welcome Center, 18 North Second Street, that same evening. Complete details and the full schedule is available on the festival’s website.
click to enlarge Could it be ... Satan? - MARC NOZELL/CC BY 2.0/FLICKR
Could it be ... Satan?
Marc Nozell/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

SatanCon’s Satanic Marketplace

As you may have heard, hordes of devil worshipers from around the world are planning to invade Scottsdale from Friday, February 11, to Sunday, February 13, for the inaugural SatanCon at the Saguaro Hotel, 4000 East Drinkwater Boulevard. Organized and promoted by the Arizona chapter of the Satanic Temple, the weekend-long conference won’t involve any virgin sacrifices, visitations by Lucifer himself, or anything too forboding. Instead, there will be lectures and panels on subjects like satanism and BIPOC communities, the temple’s legal battles with the city of Scottsdale, and even the culinary aspects of the religion. If you can’t score tickets to the con itself, the hotel will also host a free Satanic Marketplace with vendors selling artwork, apparel, accessories, and other items. (In other words, idle hands won’t be the only devil's playthings at the event.) There will also be a game room, a “dark arts and crafts” make-and-take, and more. Hours vary and more info is available here.
click to enlarge Find your new favorite reads at the VNSA Book Sale. - MELISSA FOSSUM
Find your new favorite reads at the VNSA Book Sale.
Melissa Fossum

VNSA Used Book Sale

Bookworms, bibliophiles, and word nerds alike will flock to the Agriculture Center at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 West McDowell Road, on Saturday, February 12, and Sunday, February 13, to peruse tables stacked with more than 500,000 books, albums, magazines, maps, games, CDs, and DVDs. It's the biggest secondhand sale in the Southwest and is attended by tens of thousands of patrons each year, many of whom will begin lining up the night before. The lines might be even longer this year, as the event will operate at half-capacity to allow for social distancing due to COVID-19. Books and other items start at $1 each and many tomes will be half-priced on February 13. Admission is free and parking at the fairgrounds will be $10. More info can be found on the event's website.
click to enlarge QuiltCon offers five days of homespun fun. - QUILTCON
QuiltCon offers five days of homespun fun.
QuiltCon

QuiltCon 2022

This five-day event in downtown Phoenix not only proves there’s a con for literally everything these days, but also that the art of quilting ain’t just for grandmothers or bumpkins. Thanks to the popularity of all things crafty, you’re likely to encounter quilting enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds admiring the stitching and piecework on display inside the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street, from Wednesday, February 16, to Sunday, February 20. Hundreds of modern quilts will be featured and a full schedule of lectures, panels, and workshops will take place. And, as is the norm for any con, there will also be a vendor hall. Who knows? You may bump into your favorite aunt buying some supplies. Event hours vary. Admission is $12 per day and $36 for a five-day pass.
click to enlarge Alice takes a tumble down the rabbit hole in this tattoo. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
Alice takes a tumble down the rabbit hole in this tattoo.
Benjamin Leatherman

Body Art Expo 2022

What separates a good tattoo from a bad one? Picking the right artist is the first step. An experienced and talented ink-slinger can keep your potential piece from becoming some muddled abomination suitable for being mocked online. At Body Art Expo 2022 at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 West McDowell Road, you’ll have plenty of talent to choose from. More than 200 artists from all over the U.S. will gather inside the exhibit building, which runs from Friday, February 18, to Sunday, February 20. And if getting needled doesn’t hold your attention, there will also be freak shows, tattoo contests, live entertainment, and “extreme human suspensions.” Hours are 2 to 11 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Daily admission is $20 to $25 and $55 for the weekend.
click to enlarge Carey Jones at Krrsantan from The Book of Boba Fett. - LUCASFILM/DISNEY
Carey Jones at Krrsantan from The Book of Boba Fett.
Lucasfilm/Disney

Carey Jones Signing Appearance

Television shows tend to have breakout characters, and in the case of The Book of Boba Fett, it’s the giant Wookie bounty hunter Krrsantan. Star Wars fans have become obsessed with the black-furred character with a penchant for ripping the arms of Trandoshans since he appeared in the show’s second episode. As such, we’re expecting a huge turnout at Justice Comics, 1805 East Elliot Road, #101, Tempe, on Sunday, February 20, when Krrsantan actor Carey Jones stops by the store to sign autographs and pose for photos. According to store owner Jake Justice, it will be Jones’ first-ever signing appearance. He’ll be there from noon to 4 p.m. and photo ops and autographs are $30 each.
click to enlarge A patron of the FRIENDS Experience in Dallas. - EVA RAGGIO
A patron of the FRIENDS Experience in Dallas.
Eva Raggio

The Friends Experience

If it feels like you’re always stuck in second gear (or it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year), a visit to the pop-up Friends Experience might be just the ticket. And you’ll drop between $30.50 to $37.50 for that ticket, which will allow you to spend an hour or so wandering through a massive interactive attraction inspired by the hit NBC sitcom. Located in a vacant retail space at the Paradise Valley Gateway, 10825 North Tatum Boulevard, it features spot-on replicas and mockups of various sets from the show (ranging from Central Perk to both the boys’ and girls’ apartment), displays of costumes and props, and even a gallery of wigs depicting Rachel’s hairdos. You can pose for photos while sitting in Joey and Chandler’s matching recliners or reenacting the couch-moving scene (“Pivot…PIVOT!!!”) while soaking up the nostalgia. The experience opens on Thursday, February 24, and will through early May.
click to enlarge Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt. - GAGE SKIDMORE / FLICKR
Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Patton Oswalt

Patton Oswalt’s comedy is as biting and insightful as it is imaginative. Take his likening of Donald Trump’s regrettable presidency to an “an 18-wheeler full of monkeys and PCP [that’s] crashed into a train full of diarrhea,” for instance. There’s his oft-quoted description of KFC’s Famous Bowl as “a failure pile in a sadness bowl” or a desire to become “a robot that helps wolves have sex” while overdosing on Lexapro. When Oswalt brings his latest show, which is titled Who’s Ready to Laugh?, to the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams Street, on Friday, February 25, his material will be a mix of the ingenious and the inane with plenty of geeky references, self-deprecating snark, and witty barbs. The performance starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $42 to $62.
click to enlarge A Star Trek-themed cart at the Phoenix Idiotarod in 2017. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A Star Trek-themed cart at the Phoenix Idiotarod in 2017.
Benjamin Leatherman

Phoenix Idiotarod 2022

When the Phoenix Idiotarod returns to the streets and sidewalks of downtown Phoenix on Saturday, February 26, we’re fully expecting it to be just as surreal, strange, and colorfully chaotic as ever. Equal parts urban shopping cart race and bar crawl, the event is a wild spectacle of drunken, culture-jamming fun involving teams of costumed pranksters piloting decorated carts (many of which are inspired by geeky subject matter like movies, television shows, or comic books) around the downtown area. Along the way, they’ll stop at various checkpoints at various parks, bars, and other locations to compete in challenges that typically involve alcohol, bizarre antics, or both. It’s a boozy spectacle that you’d be an idiot to miss. If you’d like to participate, registrations will be accepted up until midnight on February 18. More details are available here.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.