Things to Do

Metro Phoenix's Things to Do This Weekend: Arizona Black Rodeo, CoKoCon, and More

The Arizona Black Rodeo rides into town this weekend.
The Arizona Black Rodeo rides into town this weekend. Cavan Images/Alamy Stock Photo
The first weekend of September is filled with things to do, and it’s not just parties in honor of Labor Day weekend. During the three-day span from Friday, September 2, to Sunday, September 4, you can watch African American cowboys and cowgirls compete, celebrate National Cinema Day at local movie theaters, or shop for new kicks at Snkrville.

There are even more events happening this weekend, including two geek conventions (one for anime fans, the other for the sci-fi/fantasy crowd), the monthly First Friday art walk, and the final Party Hard Wrestling showdown.

Read on for more details or check out Phoenix New Timescalendar for more local events.
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Eye Lounge in downtown Phoenix.
Benjamin Leatherman

First Friday

New works by local creatives will abound at this month’s First Friday art walk on Friday, September 2, in downtown Phoenix. Painter Janel Garza will unveil her “Transmutations” exhibition, which reimagines transmission lines and towers as “figures of a numinous nature,” from 6 to 10 p.m. at Sisao Gallery, 1501 Grand Avenue. Over at Eye Lounge, 922 North Fifth Street, Megan Driving Hawk’s “The View From Here” solo show weaves together her photography, traditional needlework, and poetry. Elsewhere, Xico Inc., 829 North First Avenue, the opening night reception for Martin Moreno's exhibition "Memorias/Memories" will take place from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The works of Reggie Casillas, Francisco “Enuf” Garcia, Gloria Martinez-Granados, and Armondo Williams will also be showcased.

Arizona Black Rodeo 2022

African-American cowboys, cowgirls, and rodeo competitors from across the country will saddle up at WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 North Pima Road in Scottsdale, on Friday, September 2, and Saturday, September 3, for this year's Arizona Black Rodeo. They’ll be riding and roping in hopes of winning their share of $25,000 in prize money that’s up for grabs during the two-day event, described as the “hottest show on dirt.” Cowboys will compete in such events as steer wrestling and calf-roping while cowgirls will test their skills at barrel racing and steer undecorating. The rodeo, which celebrates the roles African Americans played historically in helping shape the western U.S., will also include ceremonies honoring the members of Buffalo Soldiers organizations. Country music/hip-hop artist J. Friday and rodeo clown Avery Ford will also perform. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. each evening and the events run from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday is currently sold out, but $22 general admission and $40 preferred seating tickets are still available for Friday. Visit the ABR website for more info.
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Attendees of Saboten Con in previous years.
Benjamin Leatherman

Saboten Con 2022

Saboten Con is considered to be one of the biggest anime events in the southwest, and with good reason. More than 20,000 people attend the four-day convention over Labor Day weekend at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, 340 North Third Street, which features appearances by dozens of voice actors, an enormous vendor hall, hundreds of hours of programming, J-pop concerts, a dedicated gaming room, and cosplay galore. Expect more of the same at the 2022 edition from Friday, September 2, to Monday, September 5. Special guests include One Punch Man voice talent Corina Boettger, former Studio Ghibli production coordinator Hirokatsu Kihara, Japanese rockabilly idol group Melon Batake A Go Go, and artist Ariel Medilo. Hours vary. Daily admission is $20 to $35 and a full event pass is $60 (all prices are $5 more if you buy at the event). A complete rundown of the con is available here.
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Urban fantasy author Joseph Nassise will be a guest of honor at CoKoCon 2022.

CoKoCon 2022

Blockbuster pop-cultural extravaganzas like Phoenix Fan Fusion are always fun, but smaller, quieter, and more traditional conventions provide an interesting alternative to massive mega-events. Case in point: the annual CoKoCon, a weekend-long geek event focused on science fiction and fantasy geared towards authors, artists, and more cerebral subject matter. This year’s edition (the first since the pandemic) runs from Friday, September 2, to Monday, September 5, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Phoenix Tempe, 2100 South Priest Drive. Guests of honor include author Joseph Nassise, poet Linda Addison, artist Ave Rose, and filk singer-songwriter S.J. Tucker. Expect such activities as an art show, a dealers' room, gaming, author readings, make-and-take sessions, various performances, and panels with titles like “Star Trek and Humanity’s Future in Space” and “Historical Fiction Meets Fantasy.” Event hours vary. Admission at the door is $60 for adults, $30 for youths 7 to 12, and free for kids 7 and under. Complete details and a full schedule are available here.
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Harkins Theatres across the Valley will participate in National Cinema Day.
Benjamin Leatherman

National Cinema Day

If you needed an excuse to spend an afternoon or evening at the movies this weekend, the inaugural celebration of National Cinema Day is on Saturday, September 3. Multiplexes across the U.S., including more than four dozen in the Valley, will offer $3 tickets for every showing of every movie. (Most will also have $3 deals on drinks, popcorn, and other snacks.) Here in the Valley, every Harkins Theatres, Cinemark, and AMC Theatres location will participate, as will spots like the West Wind Glendale 9 Drive-In and Roadhouse Cinemas Scottsdale. More details and a complete list of participating theaters can be found on the National Cinema Day website.
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Get your kicks at Snkrville on Saturday.
Daniel Storek/Unsplash


Sneakerheads of the Valley, better keep the afternoon of Saturday, September 3, free. The Illinois-based touring Snkrville convention will make a stop at the Arizona Sports Complex, 3555 West Pinnacle Peak Road in Glendale, and offer an outdoor marketplace filled with fresh footwear. Sellers and vendors will showcase off their stocks of stylish kicks, which is likely to include Jordans, Yeezys, Air Force Ones, and Chuck Taylors. Will there be any grails, rarities, of instacops available? You’ll have to beat feet down to the event and find out for yourself. Hours are from noon to 5 p.m. General admission is $15 but the $25 VIP tickets will allow you to enter starting at 10:30 a.m. and get a jump on other buyers.
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Shane Marvel of Party Hard Wrestling chokes out an opponent.
Benjamin Leatherman

Party Hard Wrestling: Series Finale

If you’ve never attended one of Party Hard Wrestling’s surreal, hilarious, and chaotic events before, you’ve got one last opportunity. The local indie promotion, which was partially inspired by the music of Andrew W.K., will put on Party Hard Wrestling: Series Finale on Saturday, September 3, at The Nile Theater, 105 West Main Street in Mesa. PHW co-founder Brandon Reichard says they’re ending the six-year-old promotion because several members of their behind-the-scenes staff moved away in recent years. “With all of the changes in the world, it’s relocated some of our team [outside of Arizona],” he says. “PHW isn’t PHW if it’s not me and my crew smoking blunts and booking fun shows. That’s why they’re traveling back for this one and we’re throwing our whole hearts into this last [show].” That includes bringing in All Elite Wrestling’s Colt Cabana and “Pretty” Peter Avalon as guest stars and booking a 10-person “cheap thrills” match for Party Hard’s vacant Multiverse Championship. Other contests include the Party Ranger versus Sharpe and Leslie Iris battling Alice Blair. The action starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and under.
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The exterior of Luckys Indoor Outdoor off of Roosevelt Row.
Fine Line Photography

Luckys Labor Day Extravaganza

Celebrations are set to go off at bars, clubs and other nightspots across the Valley over the Labor Day weekend as local party monsters try to fit as much drinking, dancing, and carousing into a 72-hour period. The Roosevelt Row crowd can head to Luckys, 817 North Second Street, for its evening-long affair on Sunday, September 4, featuring live music from The Retro Connection until 9 p.m., food from MozzArepas, and a special music video set from DJ Soloman and OH Allen the DJ continuing until last call. The event begins at 6 p.m. and also goes until 2 a.m. It’s free to attend.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.