Your weekend plans are about to get an upgrade. During the next three days and nights, metro Phoenix residents can attend the opening of this year’s Arizona State Fair, support local artists at Phochella, or watch the Arizona Cardinals take on an NFC West Division rival. There’s also a chance to gear up for Halloween and see comedian Tracy Morgan live.
More details are below. And for more things to do around the Valley from Friday, September 23, to Sunday, September 25, visit Phoenix New Times’ online events calendar.
You call yourself a real Arizonan? Psssh. Do you even fair, bro?
Arizona State Fair Opening Day
If there’s one constant to the Arizona State Fair each year, it’s the spectacle. Everything about the event is geared toward being attention-grabbing, thrill-seeking, or over the top. There are the amped-up rides, ultra-flashy midway games, larger-than-life creatures, and the nonstop buffet of deep-fried guilty pleasures. This year’s version of the event is no exception. All the aforementioned hallmarks will be spread across the 88-acre Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 West McDowell Road, as well as massive displays of livestock, vendor areas, and stages offering daily live entertainment. Experience it for yourself during the Arizona State Fair’s opening day on Friday, September 23, which runs from 11 a.m. to around 11 p.m. The fair will run Thursdays through Sundays until October 30. Tickets are $15 for ages 8 and up, and admission is free for kids 7 and under.
If you hear the name Tracy Morgan, it’s likely that any of the comedic characters he’s portrayed over his lengthy career will easily spring to mind. There’s Brian Fellows, the amateur zoologist from Saturday Night Live with a love for all animals (regardless of how weird they are), or 30 Rock’s neurotic (or even slightly insane) Tracy Jordan. Prior to starring as such scene-stealing characters, Morgan performed as a riotous stand-up comic, dispensing absurdist and over-the-top humor during his sets. This weekend, he’s set to take the stage at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road in Maricopa, at 8 p.m. on Friday, September 23. Tickets are $46.50 to $165.
Indie pop/Latin alternative singer-songwriter Ambar Lucid.
Phochella Music & Arts Festival
Fall brings with it both cooler weather and the return of outdoor festivals like this BIPOC-focused multicultural art and music event on Saturday, September 24, at Rancho Ochoa, 6638 West Broadway Road. An array of local creatives will showcase and sell their works and wares while musicians and bands perform. Attendees also can register to vote in the upcoming midterm election. The live entertainment lineup will include sets by indie singer-songwriter Ambar Lucid, synth-pop act Luna Luna, hip-hop group The Brown Boyz, neo-soul band Prime Society, Chicana artist La Doña, DJ Awdre, and others. Tickets are $15. Click here for more details about the event, which goes from 3 p.m. to midnight.
Halloween is just over a month away, and local devotees of the holiday have already begun gearing up in earnest. You’ll see them buying up hordes of props, decorations, costumes, and other trinkets at the annual AZ Halloween Marketplace on Saturday, September 24, outside of The Horny Toad, 6729 North 57th Drive in Glendale. The restaurant’s courtyard will be populated by more than 50 local vendors, artists, and retailers during the one-day event. The lineup includes geek scene favorites Steam Crow and BeezleBub Ross Illustration, as well as exhibitors like Haunted Attic, Kei Collective, and Victorian Folly. Doors open at 11 a.m. each day. Admission is free. Click here for more details.
Serenity in the Desert
In September 2002, the cult sci-fi television show Firefly debuted on the Fox network, quickly earning a geek following with its ensemble cast, darker themes, and complex characters. The action-packed space western might’ve only lasted 14 episodes, thanks to shortsighted network executives, but its supporters (collectively known as “Browncoats”) still celebrate the program. To wit: The Arizona Browncoats fan group will mark Firefly’s 20th anniversary on Sunday, September 25, at the annual Serenity in the Desert charity fundraiser at Majestic Cinema Neighborhood Grill, 1140 East Baseline Road in Tempe. The event takes place at 2 and 6:30 p.m., and will feature screenings of Serenity, the 2005 film that continued the show’s storyline, and Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog. A costume contest, raffles, and other festivities are planned. Proceeds benefit Pappas Kids Schoolhouse Foundation and the Women's Foundation for the State of Arizona. Tickets are $15 plus fees. Get more info here.
Fans of the Arizona Cardinals had a busy week of celebrating while trying to calm down after a heart-stopping, come-from-behind victory the team earned in overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. One of the upshots of the win is the fact the Red Birds are now tied for first place in the NFC West at 1-1. Thing is, it's not that big a deal, as every team in the division currently has the same record. One way or another, the deadlock will be broken this weekend when Arizona welcomes the Los Angeles Rams to State Farm Stadium, 1 Cardinals Drive in Glendale, on Sunday, September 25. Despite their opening-week loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Rams are considered one of the best teams in the division and are the reigning Super Bowl champs. In other words, the Cardinals will have their work cut out for them. As last weekend proved, though, they’re capable of big wins. Kickoff is at 1:25 p.m., and tickets are available on the secondary market.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.