Six Phoenix Festivals and Cultural Events in July and August

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The Valley has plenty of different communities and cultural scenes -- you just have to know where to look. Luckily, we're here to do the work for you.

For crowds of theater lovers to tattoo aficionados and young pageant hopefuls, here are six upcoming events that could introduce you to different communities in the Valley or help you find like-minded folks in town ... yes, even in the summer.

6. Hormel New Works Festival, July 8 through 22 Now's your chance to see plays at Phoenix Theatre in the development stage. You can experience plays pared down to a table reading and staged run-throughs, plus provide feedback to the playwrights, actors, and dramaturgs.

"To see or hear a play, to see it at the most minimalist way possible leave so much up to the audience and their imagination," says Pasha Yamotahari, assistant to producing artistic director.

This is the festival's 15th year, and the selection of plays run from drama to tragic comedy.

A VIP pass with access to the readings, receptions with the playwrights is $75, a VIP student ticket is $50, and a ticket for each of the four staged readings is $34.

The Hormel New Works Festival isn't just for enthusiasts or avid play watchers, Yamotahari says: "Whether you're theatre or art goers or even people that aren't saturated in the arts it gives them the chance to exercise their imagination, vision, and their own creativity," he says. "And to have those artists you just saw perform sit with you in an intimate setting and talk about what you just saw and felt creates a greater sense of community."

5. Timeless Ink Tour, July 13-15 This weekend, the Phoenix Convention Center will house the Timeless Ink Tour, an event where tattoo artists can showcase their art and participants can stop by booths and be the canvas! Piercers will also display their work. If you're not looking to get tatted up (although this would be the perfect time), the convention also includes an exotic car show for the enthusiast, live music by rock bands and Atlanta-based rapper Future, and ... live human suspensions. Yes, people will hang by their piercings, and yes, you can watch.

Single-day tickets are $25 at the door and $50 gets you a weekend pass.

4. The Lori Piestewa National Native American Games, July 20-22 As part of the Grand Canyon State Games, the Native American Games invite athletes who are at least 1/4 Native American to participate in eight sports competitions including basketball, baseball, cross country, flag football, softball, track & field, volleyball, and wrestling.

The games are named after Lori Piestewa, the first Native American woman killed in combat in the U.S. military, and the first woman killed in the 2003 Iraq invasion. She was a member of the Hopi tribe, and was born in Tuba City, Arizona.

"Her family has always attended the years that we've done this," says Erik Widmark, executive director of the Grand Canyon State Games. "Her children participate and put a lot of the medals on people at the end of the competition."

The event is free and open to the public to watch.

4. Arizona Highland Celtic Festival, July 21-22 The 15th annual festival is hosted by the Northern Arizona Celtic Heritage Society at Foxglenn Park in Flagstaff where festival-goers can attend workshops and take lessons on Celtic music, bagpipe playing, and a whisky tasting (sounds good to us!). Enjoy live Irish music by the Lumber Camps and Wicket Tinkers, for those in the mood for a Celtic tribal sound explosion, according to their website.

The festival runs Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Tickets are available at the park and are $15 for adults and $4 for children (3-12) for one day and $22 for adults and $6 for children for two days. available at the venue.

5. Latina Art Exhibit & Festival, May 4 - August 24 The Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center's 147 E. Adams Street gallery will showcase art and jewelry by Norma Garcia -Torres in the La Capilla Gallery and Alondra Yasmin Ortega in the El Rincon Gallery. The exhibit's theme is "Madres/Madonnas/Mujeres" and will be open throughout July and August

6. Miss Black Arizona Scholarship Pageant, August 24-25 Hosted by Grammy-award winning singer LeToya Luckett, the scholarship pageant has six categories from Toddler Miss (age 3-4) to Miss Black Arizona (age 18-27). This year's theme is "voice", and focuses on being a forum and outlet for young African-American ladies to express themselves.

And in the off-chance it gets all "Toddlers and Tiaras," we'll have our cameras. Tickets go on sale July 15.

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