Virgin Island

Pompous palates get pleased every year at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, as foodies from all over gather to indulge in some of the best dishes in the Southwest. But the beauteous buffet isn't just for epicures, as the Scottsdale Civic Center, 7375 East Second Street, plays host to a Caribbean carnival, a big picnic, a giant outdoor beer garden, and live entertainment from Friday, April 15, through Sunday, April 17. And it's all pretty much posh food at paupers' prices. Well, maybe it's not that cheap, but considering the presence of more than 250 top wineries and chefs, that's a lot of buffet for your buck. Most notable of the nosh-ups this year is the festival's first "Carnivale de Cuisine," an island-themed jamboree on Friday, April 15. At 7 p.m., the civic center becomes a tropical paradise, as more than 30 chefs and restaurateurs serve up special dishes like "samba chicken with sweet potato fusion" and "Evil Jungle Voodoo Mama." Absolut Vodka will pour some tropical belly-washers, and vendors will decorate their booths to fit the carnival theme. If attendees forget to bring their own masks and beads, they can buy some to benefit the Scottsdale League for the Arts. Entertainment throughout the "carnival village" includes a steel band, fire-breathing stilt-walkers, psychics, a caricature artist, an ice sculpture artist, a photo booth with a Caribbean-style backdrop, and the musical stylings of the Groove Merchants. Tickets cost $55 in advance, $65 at the door.

On Saturday, April 16, the two-day "Great Arizona Picnic" begins. Don't bother packing a basket, because there will be tons of salacious samples from local chefs. And you can unpack the kids at Kids Zone. Admission costs $5.

For the yeasty beasties, the Southwest Festival of Beers has a head for you. Frolic through the Beer Garden amongst more than 200 specialty brews and kick some ass at a belching contest. Admission ($5) includes a souvenir mug.

Call 480-945-7193 or visit -- Niki D'Andrea

Got Underground Art?
Shake your bones at hip-hop art thing

FRI 4/15
When we were children, our parents would preach the importance of drinking milk for our developing bones. It's a shame we never learned about underground hip-hop's nutritional value -- until now, that is. On Friday, April 15, Mainstay Art Space, 412 East Garfield, hosts its monthly "Leche Art Lounge" show. Featuring independent art and progressive hip-hop, "the event is a big all-night party," says Craig Turner, owner of Mainstay. DJ Uriah will spin hypnotic beats while partygoers can enjoy the works of six different emerging artists. The event lasts from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., and is ill-advised for the independent intolerant. Admission is $3. Call 602-252-0792. -- Steve Jansen

Beer and Skittles
Free outdoor films are a Steele

Tom Simplot credits the success of his "Moonlight Movies" series to its venue: Steele Indian School Park at Third Street and Indian School. But it was Simplot, the District 4 Phoenix city councilman, who raised $70,000 to finance the three-story-tall movie screen, and whose office got an all-important liquor license for the event. "If you want to bring a six-pack, feel free," says Simplot, who hosts the series, which begins its second year on Saturday, April 16, with a 7 p.m. free showing of the 1939 black-and-white classic The Women, starring Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and Rosalind Russell. Big, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and The Sandlot will also show during the series, through July 23. Call 602-262-7447. -- Joe Watson


Fame-crazed starlets are given a break at the first "For the Advancement of Music and Entertainment" (F.A.M.E.) Fest, which celebrates all genres of music to open doors for aspiring artists. The festival, organized entirely by students, has gained national attention, receiving donations from all corners of the industry. "I wanted to show the business firsthand," says Irin Daniels, instructor of music business at Phoenix College, 1202 West Thomas. The event, held on campus, runs Wednesday, April 20, through April 23, offering industry workshops, a DJ and MC battle, live graffiti, a record swap meet, and a Saturday performance by the Phunk Junkeez -- all for free. Call 602-518-4608 or see -- Austin Head

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea
Austin Head
Steve Jansen
Contact: Steve Jansen
Joe Watson