Another week is here, and the last thing anyone in the Valley wants to do is sit at home. Here is a list of some of the best ways to kick boredom to the curb, including dodgeball and the PHX Vegan Food Festival. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times' event calendar.
Not every gamer is hellbent on pwning friends and opponents alike for personal glory or an esports payday. Some do it for charity, like the joystick junkies who will participate in GameCon 2020. The all-ages event, which takes place on Thursday, February 27, at the Student Union at ASU’s Polytechnic Campus, 5999 South Backus Mall in Mesa, will involve casual and competitive gaming while making donations to local charitable organizations. A mix of consoles, tabletop games, and virtual reality will be available, and tournaments are planned for titles like Super Smash Bros., Fortnite, and Rocket League. It’s game on from 3 to 9 p.m. and free to attend and participate. Organizers are requesting non-perishable food items and monetary donations. Benjamin Leatherman
Celebration of Culture
February is Black History Month, and this year groups all across the Valley celebrated with events and gatherings. For the month’s end, the Central Arizona chapter of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators is hosting its Celebration of Culture. The event features several speakers, including Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., as well as performances by the Black Theatre Troupe and the Kawambe-Omowale drum and dance theaer. There will be Southern cuisine courtesy of Buzznbeez. It’s a great chance for a community-oriented celebration of black culture (plus, it hopefully won’t be 1,000 degrees yet). The free event is 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 27, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams Street. Chris Coplan
For some folks, dodgeball represents a painful time in elementary school where a distinct lack of coordination became all too clear. But if you want to give it another go as a fully-formed adult, GayDodgeball is hosting an open event. Folks of all ages, sexualities, and skill levels are welcome to play dodgeball in a fun format. If you’re skilled enough (or a big enough glutton for punishment), you can sign up for the league’s spring 2020 season. Just make sure to bring ample hydration, comfortable clothes, and leave your self-consciousness at home. The event is set for 7 to 8:45 p.m on Thursday, February 27, at Valley of the Sun YMCA, 350 North First Avenue. There’s a $5 cover (cash requested). Chris Coplan
Sun Ra is the intergalactic overlord of experimental jazz. In honor of his wonderfully weird legacy, the folks behind JAZZmeetsPOETRY are celebrating his celestial dynasty with their first show of 2020. Here, a group of musicians and other artists and performers will reimagine Sun Ra’s rich catalog, which spans everything from big band music to the earliest forms of Afrofuturism, perpetually shaped by a daring and inventive musician. It’s a sonic adventure, one from the deepest corners of the south to the outer reaches of the cosmos (and likely beyond). The show is set for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 27, at The Nash, 110 East Roosevelt Street. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Chris Coplan
Contemporary Crafts Exhibit
If you hear the word “crafts” and think Popsicle sticks or pipe cleaners, it’s time to hit your reset button by heading to Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, 1 East Main Street in Mesa. Its free 41st Annual Contemporary Crafts Exhibit includes an intriguing mix of artworks from wearable sculpture to ceramics. The exhibit features work by more than 50 artists, and more than half are based in Arizona.
One artist used discarded sneakers to make a small sculpture anchored by the form of a human heart. Another used copper, enamel, and spring steel to depict two world leaders flanking a nuclear mushroom cloud. Check it out on Friday, February 28, when museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit continues through April 19. Lynn Trimble
Queer Poetry Salon
Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, 1738 East McDowell Road, is giving queer voices a safe space to share their work with a Queer Poetry Salon happening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, February 28. It’s being hosted by Equality AZ, a nonprofit that works to improve the well-being, inclusion, and political power of LGBTQ community members.
The free event will include readings by featured poets, plus time for other queer writers to share their work. Any LGBTQ writer can share two short pieces during the open mic period. Organizers describe the gathering as a “test lab for queer literature” designed to help grow the queer community. Lynn Trimble
Tempe Empty Bowls
Tempe Empty Bowls is as much a community event as it is a marriage of activism and the arts. Attendees can spend $10 to purchase handcrafted ceramic bowls made by schoolchildren, artists, and potters from the City of Tempe Ceramics Program. Then they can have a bowl of bread and soup, symbolizing the “caloric intake that must sustain many in our community for an entire day.” In addition to generating much-needed awareness, proceeds will benefit the United Food Bank and Tempe Community Action Agency. There will also be other items for sales including vases, pots, mugs, and necklaces.
The event is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, February 28, and Saturday, February 29. Friday’s event will be at the Sixth Street Park, 24 East Sixth Street in Tempe. Saturday, meanwhile, is set for the Tempe Library, 3500 South Rural Road. Chris Coplan
Leap Day 2020 Party
Despite what Liz Lemon declared in 30 Rock, Leap Day is most definitely a thing. Thanks to a quirk of the Gregorian calendar, the world gets an extra day every four years to do with as it pleases. While you don’t have to dress up in blue and yellow or give out candy in exchange for children’s tears, there will be some parties celebrating the occasion.
The folks at Pho Cao, 7436 East McDowell Road in Scottsdale, are planning a Leap Day 2020 party on Saturday, February 29, with live music from local artists and acts like Roger Dabsworth, The Psychelephants, and the Benja Bloom Band. The party starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but donations for the bands are appreciated. Call 480-947-2608. Benjamin Leatherman
Arizona's Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Celebration
Depending on your level of baseball nerdom, you may or may not have heard of pitcher Ford Smith. If not, his story is worth knowing. The late Phoenix native competed in professional baseball’s Negro Leagues, which launched in 1920 and consisted solely of African-American players. Smith competed with the league’s Kansas City Monarchs for four years in the ‘40s, playing alongside the legendary Satchel Paige and starting the 1947 Negro World Series.
Smith’s achievements on the baseball diamond will be commemorated during Arizona’s Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Celebration on Saturday, February 29, at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center, 415 East Grant Street. The discussion will focus on our state’s ties to the leagues, including Smith, and feature baseball historians Bill Staples Jr., and Charlie Vascellaro, as well as onetime MLB outfielder Byron Browne. The discussion is from 2 to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Benjamin Leatherman
PHX Vegan Food Festival
The PHX Vegan Food Festival returns to Hance Park, 67 West Culver Street, on Saturday, February 29. Expect more than 100 vegan and vegan-friendly vendors, as well as demonstrations, crafts, and entertainment. The festival will have several no-host bars where you can buy vegan-friendly beer, wine, or cocktails. Plus, they’ll have a kids’ area with special entertainment and hands-on activities.
The lineup also includes yoga classes and live music. After dark, look for lawn games, electric light shows, light-based performers, and glow-in-the-dark chalk art. General admission for the noon to 10 p.m. event is $29 in advance or $35 at the door. VIP passes are $69, which gets you into the festival at 10 a.m. Lynn Trimble
Cave Creek Craft Beer Festival
Some cities wait until the dead of summer to hold their annual beer fests. But that’s not the case in the Valley, as the first annual Cave Creek Craft Beer Festival debuts before spring has even arrived. The event features a massive sampling of breweries from Arizona and beyond, including Borderlands, Mike Hess, SanTan, Novo, Saddle Mountain, Wild Tonic, and Twelve Percent Imports. When you’re not chugging suds, there’s also live music by Lindsey Vogt and the promise of greasy, deep-fried pub food. Luckily, you can walk off those added calories on a nearby trail — talk about convenience.
The fest is set for 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 29, at Stagecoach Village, 7100 East Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek. General admission is $45, and VIP early access runs $60. Chris Coplan
The right-to-die movement isn’t making many headlines these days, as other issues from climate change to immigration are taking center stage. But the right to die is top of mind for Diane Rehm, best known for The Diane Rehm Show aired by NPR from 1979 to 2016. She has written a book based on interviews with terminally ill patients, family members, ethicists, physicians, and others.
Rehm will discuss her book at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams Street, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 1, during an event presented by Changing Hands Bookstore and KJZZ. The event is titled after the book: When My Time Comes: Conversations About Whether Those Who Are Dying Should Have the Right to Determine When Life Should End. For $33.18 plus fees, you get one ticket and a book. For $38.18 plus fees you get the book plus admission for two. Lynn Trimble
Melrose Vintage Market
Unless you already lived there, you may not know the cultural and historical value of the Melrose District. Every month, residents and local businesses put this vibrant area on display with the Melrose Vintage Market. The homegrown market features more than 50 local vendors selling wares ranging from clothing and decor to furniture and random “oddities,” with styles like prewar, deco, and Midcentury Modern. Plus, there’s food and drink available, including local bakeries, as well as a KidZone featuring jump ropes and hula hoops. And if all that weren’t enough, there’s always dogs to admire and hopefully hug. This free event is set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 1, at 700 West Campbell Avenue. Chris Coplan
Cynthia Erivo was the only person of color nominated for an acting Oscar this year, for performing the lead role in Harriet. The film examines the life and times of abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman, who was born into slavery but escaped, then helped others find freedom through the Underground Railroad.
You can see a free screening of the film at Scottsdale Civic Center Library, 3839 North Drinkwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. It starts at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 2, and runs for just over two hours. The film also stars Leslie Odom, Jr. Both actors received Tony Awards in 2016, by the way. Erivo won for playing Celie in The Color Purple, and Odom for playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton. Lynn Trimble
'Shakespeare on the Border'
For some, it’s easy to write Shakespeare off over concerns his work includes sexist and racist themes. But others are working to explore his poetry and plays in the context of contemporary life while elevating the value of ideas and voices outside of mainstream Western culture. Ruben Espinosa is one of many scholars exploring the intersection of Latinx culture and Shakespeare, especially related to the borderlands.
He’s doing a free talk on the ASU campus in Tempe from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3. It’s happening inside Lattie Coor Hall, located at 976 South Forest Mall in Tempe. Expect Espinosa to cover topics such as identity, gender, economics, and ethics. His presentation is free, but you should RSVP online so organizers know how many people to expect. Lynn Trimble
Just before their crushing loss to the Brooklyn Nets earlier this month, the Toronto Raptors were on a 15-game winning streak. That’s the sort of accomplishment that would intimidate most squads. Unless, of course, you’re the Phoenix Suns. Over the last 24-plus years, the Suns have beaten the Raptors in roughly 30 out of 46 regular-season games. Could a motivated Raptors team be hungry for some retribution? Of course. Is the Suns’ losing record a threat to their further winning ways? Always. But with these figures, it’s safe enough to say the Suns could send the Raptors back to the Cretaceous era.We’ll find out for sure when the Raptors and Suns face off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3, at Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street. Chris Coplan
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A pack of upright meerkats greets visitors to the Desert Botanical Gardens these days, where strolling the garden grounds will nurture your love for both art and nature. More than 1,000 animals made with recyclable plastic dot the garden landscapes, as part of a massive art installation called "Wild Rising." It’s the work of Cracking Art, a collective that uses art to promote sustainable living on a local and global level.
The exhibition is included with admission to the garden, located at 1201 North Galvin Parkway, which starts at $24.95 for adults. While you’re there, look for all sorts of brightly-colored animals, including frogs, rabbits, bears, and more. Head to the garden’s gallery if you want to snap a photo with the exhibit’s giant white elephant. Check it out from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4. Lynn Trimble