Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Autumn in Tucson: Let the Festivities Begin! (Updated for 2017)

I am smitten with Fall in Tucson. After the long, hot summer, it’s such a delight to open the windows and let in the evening chill. A feeling of nostalgia washes over me with the crisp autumn breezes. Sunlight warms my cheeks like butterfly kisses. Autumn bliss. (Or not...)

When I list my favorite things about Tucson, Tucson Meet Yourself and the Homescape Harvest Tour are right up there with the Tucson Festival of Books and my home away from home, the Loft Cinema. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy this lovely season than to get outside for Tucson’s captivating fall festivals and tours. Here are some of our favorite Fall festivities.

Homescape Harvest Tour

Saturday, October 28, 2017 - 10:00am to 3:00pm

I can’t begin to articulate how going on the Homescape Harvest Tour filled me with wonder, ignited my curiosity and kindled a shared vision. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you may have noticed that Dan and I are big fans of Watershed Management Group and their efforts to get the rivers flowing again with rainwater harvesting. We were so excited about their vision that Dan volunteered with their coop and then became a docent. Now Dan is their coop manager and is currently organizing this event. (So proud of him!) It all started when Dan attended the Homescape Harvest Bike Tour. The next year he brought me along on the walking tour. I’m so grateful that he did. 

I’ve been telling everyone I can about this fascinating excursion. Inspiring home landscapes throughout Tucson will be open to explore at your own pace. The good people at Watershed Management Group have lined up some of the most well-designed, beautifully functional, affordable and sometimes whimsical examples of how to harvest water, energy, and food. You can get ideas for your dream yard – like we did.

As you explore home landscapes, you’ll have the opportunity to learn firsthand from the homeowners. Experience enchanting rain gardens, cisterns, passive & active solar systems, greywater systems, composting toilets, shady desert oases, lush food gardens, and wildlife habitats.

Also, included is the rainwater garden of Rita Smith that is also a part of the Fall Garden Tour. Her front yard was a past WMG co-op project

Click here to purchase tickets: https://watershedmg.org/event/7th-annual-watershed-management-group-homescape-harvest-tour

Tucson Meet Yourself

October 13-15

Tucson Meet Yourself, that has been lovingly dubbed “Tucson Eat Yourself,” can occasionally even lure my apathetic teens out of the house for some Danish pancake balls with lingonberry jam. That’s just one of the many delectable tastes offered from Tucson’s diverse cultural heritage. I have happy memories of my kids making Mexican cascarones (confetti eggs). It’s become a family tradition to make Mexican cutout flags from colorful tissue paper. You can catch anything from Irish clogging to belly dancing to Native American flute music to Polish pierogi cooking demos on the festival stages. 

Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival

YWCA, 525 N. Bonita
November 12th at 11 AM - 4 PM

Check out the wave of the future – sustainability! Don't miss the Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival. 

Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival provides a popular annual event that brings together key individuals, organizations, and companies in our community who are working to help us not just envision, but also create a resilient future for Tucson and Southern Arizona.

Enjoy activities for all ages, with exhibitors, vendors, and demonstrators showing techniques for building local and neighborhood resilience. Check out electric vehicles and solar ovens, get “up close and personal” with a solar panel, find new ways to protect our desert ecosystems, try out recycling/upcycling crafts, make your own seed “bombs,” and try some tasty local fruit. You’ll find out about living in harmony with urban wildlife and building resilience against heat emergencies. And don’t miss the opportunity to see models of paper adobe, learn about composting and desert gardening, and much, much more.

New this year is the Resilience Center, an area where you can see demonstrations of techniques and technologies we all can use for making our homes and neighborhoods more sustainable. You can explore ways to make Tucson more water-efficient with water harvesting and dry wells, see 3D printing in action and see how an aquaponics system works. Be sure to learn about the importance of edible urban trees, and localizing our regional economy, as well as ways to reduce energy and water use in commercial as well as residential buildings.

Share your own vision of Tucson’s sustainable future at the Story and Art Gathering Center, and add your message on the Climate Ribbon Tree. Enjoy some delicious local food and unique local music. Admission is free, with plenty of free parking and a bike “valet” if you choose that environmentally friendly way to come.

Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Tour

(No updated information at this time)

See how this once barren neighborhood was transformed into an oasis in the desert by using curb cuts to direct the rainwater to irrigate mesquite trees along the street and a native food forest in the medians – a great example of green infrastructure. Before Brad Lancaster pioneered these successful rainwater harvesting techniques, curb cuts were illegal in Tucson. The enjoyment is heightened with a community mural and metal sculptures.

Brad uses only rainwater for his household and gardening needs, harvesting 100,000 gallons of rainwater annually. His property is an example of how passive and active solar power work together with passive and active water harvesting in a beautifully integrated design. 


October 29th, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
South 12th Ave from West 39th Street to Mission Manor Park.

What better way to feel the autumn breeze on your face than to hop on your trusty metal steed to join thousands of bicyclists as they take over the streets. Cyclovia is Tucson’s semi-annual celebration of living streets. For five hours on a Sunday, the streets along the Cyclovia path are closed to automobile traffic and opened to the community: bicyclists, pedestrians, community organizations, and people wanting to meet their neighbors. There’s a new route every time, so different neighborhoods get to celebrate. Revel in the small town feeling that makes Tucson so great while getting a glimpse at what our streets could be if we weren’t so car-obsessed!

This year 3.75-mile long route is home to dozens of locally owned small businesses featuring some of Tucson’s best Mexican food, plus scores of schools, community centers, places of worship, parks and neighborhoods. Dozens of free activities will line the route, concentrated around 5 activity hubs, and local restaurants will welcome guests with expanded outdoor seating for the day.

Community members, business owners, and representatives from South 12th Avenue’s many schools and organizations have been hard at work for months planning an event that will showcase the unique aspects of the area. A youth Mariachi showcase will take place outside Pueblo High School, there are all-class reunions for Sunnyside High School and Pueblo High alumni taking place at different locations along the route, live music byJimmy Carr and The Awkward Moments , Santa Pachita and Escuelita Musical will be featured outside of El Guero Canelo Restaurante Mexicano, and BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogswill host the high-flying zip line and rock climbing wall. The South 12th Avenue route will more than ever have something to offer everyone.

Tucson Celtic Festival & Scottish Highland Games

Nov 5 at 9 AM to Nov 5 at 5 PM
Rillito Downs Park. 4502 N 1st Ave

As a member of the MacGregor clan (from Dan's mom’s side), Fall means it’s time for him to pull on his kilt, strap on hissporran, stash a dirk in his stocking, and head up to Rillito Park to eat haggis, drink dark beer, and watch grown men throwing telephone poles around. That’s right - it’s time for the annual Tucson Celtic Festival. Food, music, dance, and games. It’s a time when everyone’s inner Celt comes out - even if you aren’t Scottish or Irish!

All Souls Procession

Sunday, November 5 at 4 PM - 10 PM
New route
806 N Grande Ave,

Is there any event more representative of Tucson than the All Souls Procession? (OK, maybe Tucson Meet Yourself edges it out.) The All Souls Procession started out as a small group of Tucsonans who decided to celebrate a Mexican holiday to honor their departed loved ones. Before long, the little sidewalk procession was filling the street with people of all ages in fanciful skeleton make-up carrying paper lanterns, gigantic puppets, and creative floats. Now it is one of Tucson’s most beloved celebrations, bringing thousands Downtown to remember, protest, cry, laugh, sing, play music, create, dance, and - most of all - celebrate living in this unique place we call home.

New theme this year. Join the Sky Island Alliance, the Northern Jaguar Project and the Center for Biological Diversity to remember our borderlands jaguars this year at the All Souls Procession.

We'll have a large jaguar puppet, two jaguar statues, and a limited number of jaguar masks and signs to share. Come dressed ready to process in memory of borderlands jaguars we've lost and for the future of jaguars yet to come.

I can't wait to check out...

Tucson Village Farm Harvest Festival

Saturday, November 4th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

This FREE family-friendly event will feature a variety of all-ages activities, gourmet food samples, farm stand, live music with R & P Music Factory, petting zoo, hayrides, popcorn harvest, food trucks and more!

Now that the summer heat has ended and the temperate fall weather has arrived, it's time to venture out of the AC, plant our fall veggie gardens and go enjoy all the things Tucson has to offer us. See you at the fests!

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