Tempe Festival of the Arts Kicks Off Today

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Visual Arts Issue: December 2015
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Photo courtesy Tempe Festival of the ArtsRain or shine, the Tempe Festival of the Arts will take over Tempe’s Mill Avenue District for a three-day extravaganza of art, food, wine, beer and entertainment December 4-6.

About 400 jury-selected artists display and sell their wares, which include paintings, ceramics, wearable art, jewelry, sculpture, metalwork and leather. More than 700 artists submit work in 16 different visual arts categories each year for inclusion in the festival.

But art isn’t the only draw here (no pun intended). This year, eight Arizona wineries will participate in the Arizona Wine Festival in conjunction with the arts festival: Alcantara Vineyard; Arizona Stronghold Vineyards; Bodega Pierce/Saeculum Cellars; Keeling Schaefer Vineyards; Kief-Joshua Vineyards; Page Springs Cellars; Pillsbury Wine Company; and Sonoita Vineyards. There’s no admission fee, but tasting tickets can be purchased for $12, which will buy you six tastes and a commemorative wine glass.

For beer drinkers, The Art of Beer expo features Four Peaks Brewing Company and Gordon Biersch, with five tastings for $10. Beer will also be available for $5 a glass.

New this year: The festival welcomes the Grilled Cheese Truck and the Maine Lobster Truck. Other festival fare includes fry bread, barbecue and gourmet macaroni and cheese, along with cotton candy, kettle corn and chocolate-dipped fruits.

The festival is also known for its lineup of live local, regional and national musicians, including the Walt Richardson Trio, The Ronstadt Generations and local singer-songwriter Eric Ramsey.

During the weekend, street performers will be scattered throughout the fair, with performances by Condor Dance, percussionist Ken Koshio, steel drum ensemble Rainforest Jam and many others.

On Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30-8 p.m., “Festival After Dark” takes place at Centerpoint Plaza, where guests can enjoy live music (Friday: The Sugar Thieves; Saturday: Sugahbeat) with the option of purchasing food and partaking in the beverages from Arizona Wine Festival and the The Art of Beer.

Try to get there early because the festival attracts close to 225,000 people over the weekend. Bring your well-behaved dog, but don’t forget the leash.

Tempe Festival of the ArtsIf You Go
What: Tempe Festival of the Arts
When: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Dec. 4-6
Where: Streets of downtown Tempe
Cost: Free