Put some awesomeness in your autumn with our roundup of the season’s most promising music, art and food festivals. Bonus: The inside scoop on PHOENIX magazine’s inaugural Best of the Valley party.
Food and Drink
Arizona Taco Festival
October 12 and 13
Imagine a planet made of tacos, with oceans of tequila, rivers of hot sauce and lucha libre wrestlers flying through the sky. Explore it. PHOENIX is a sponsor. Westworld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale. $10-$15 per day, general admission. aztacofestival.com
Southwest Cider Festival
Catch the wave of craft cider at this second annual showcase of juicy fermented apple goodness, featuring samples from several states including Arizona. Cider Corps, 31 S. Robson St., Mesa. $35, general admission. swciderfest2019.eventbrite.com
Phoenix Pizza Fest
Twenty pizza makers, craft beer, lawn games and live bands make this pie party a real slice of life. Margaret T. Hance Park, 67 W. Culver St., Phoenix. $10 (advance online purchase only). phoenix.pizza
Mac & Cheese Fest
November 16 and 17
More than 30 restaurants dish their macs at the third annual celebration of all things totally tubular, hot and cheesy. Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 7555 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale. $15 per day. macandcheesefestaz.com
Downtown Donut Festival
It’s dough or die at this breakfast bonanza featuring doughnuts from 20 local pastry makers, plus mimosas and wine for washing ’em down. Margaret T. Hance Park, 67 W. Culver St., Phoenix. $8-$10 (advance online purchase only). downtowndonutfest.com
AZ Barrels, Bottles & Brews
More than 30 local breweries, wineries and distilleries pour it on overlooking the baseball diamond and McDowell Mountains. Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 7555 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale. $50, general admission; $19, designated driver. azbottlesandbrews.com
Arts and Music
Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival
Mixed-media gourd artist Jane Boggs headlines this annual juried soirée of art and wine, which also includes food trucks and live music. Easy and Ho Hum streets in downtown Carefree. $3, admission; $10, wine tasting. thunderbirdartists.com
Artfest of Scottsdale
November 23 and 24
Get an eyeful of paintings, jewelry, sculptures, ceramics, metal art and more at this curated exhibition of local works. Civic Center Plaza, 75th Street and Indian School Road, Scottsdale. Free. 888artfest.com
Fountain Festival of Fine Arts & Crafts
More than 500 artisans from around the world are expected to show their work at this juried expo that takes place throughout the downtown area of Fountain Hills. Free admission. fountainhillschamber.com
Apache Lake Music Festival
October 18 and 19
Celebrating a decade of hard-rocking fun in the Superstition Wilderness, this home-grown, lakeside showcase of local music talent will be bigger than ever in 2019, with 30 bands playing two stages for an estimated 1,500 fans. Bring your tent and sleeping bag – held at Apache Lake Resort and Marina, the two-day festival is one of the state’s biggest overnight campouts. $60. Find the full festival lineup and ticket information at apachelakemusicfestival.com.
Fall Fest Spotlight
When the Last Exit Live music promoter founded the Apache Lake Music Festival (ALMF) 10 years ago, it consisted of 16 local bands playing over two days on one stage. In the interim, the fest has doubled in size, drawing local music fans with the promise of a tightly programmed menu of rising bands in one of Arizona’s most scenic venues. We mic-ed up Kleinlein to talk about his Field of Dreams-like vision.
What gave you the idea to stage a rock festival at a remote lake? Did you know people would come “if you built it,” so to speak?
Basically, yes. I was [childhood] friends with a kid that’s part of the family that owns the resort, the Schuster family. Since the late 1990s, I’d go out there on weekends and have fun, play in the water. Eventually I moved into the music world and said to them “This would be an amazing place for a festival.” And they said, “Really? You should do one.” So we got our friends’ bands to sign up and it became a see-if-anybody-comes thing. Basically a camping trip with music. And they came.
Who are some of the memorable bands returning to play ALMF this year?
One band that’s always a fan favorite is Mergence. They haven’t played a show in five years, and we got them to reunite for this 10-year anniversary. Also, we had Kongos out there in 2014, right before their song “Come with Me Now” took off. It’s cool to see the evolution of some bands. When Jared & The Mill played for us many years ago, they were just doing local shows. Now that’s a band that’s touring all the time, playing great venues.
What makes ALMF special compared to other festivals?
We’re at Apache Lake, with people setting up tents on the beach, right along the water. You’re camping, surrounded by the mountains and the lake.
How is the road trip to Apache Lake?
Getting out to Apache Lake is kind of an adventure. It’s only 60 miles from Phoenix, but it takes about two hours to get there because you’re going through Tortilla Flat and down Apache Trail and it becomes a dirt road that’s real winding. Then you get to this beautiful setting at the lake.
Four Peaks Oktoberfest
Get a taste of Bavaria in more than a dozen German beers while noshing on food including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options at this 47th annual event. Tempe Town Lake, 80 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe. Free admission. fourpeaksoktoberfest.com
Inspired by the Mystic Krewe of Barkus, New Orleans’ Mardi Gras dog parade, this canine costume parade is fun fur the whole family. Margaret T. Hance Park, 67 W. Culver St., Phoenix. Free admission. dtphx.org
Dia de los Muertos Celebration
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to hoof it down to Tucson to find a quality Día procession. This two-day, family-friendly soufflé of music, dance and afterlife-themed crafts will alight on Desert Botanical Garden just after Halloween. 1201 N. Galvin Pkwy., Phoenix. dbg.org
Arizona Fall Fest
Formerly known as the Certified Local Fall Festival, this annual autumnal celebration (staged by Valley advocacy group Local First Arizona) features food, merchant booths, a beer and wine garden and live music from all-Arizona purveyors. And it’s completely free. Margaret T. Hance Park, 67 W. Culver St., Phoenix. localfirstaz.com/fall-festival
Best of the Valley Bash
You want the best? You got the best! Best of the Valley, that is. Less a “party” than a multimedia festival, the bash will unfold in Old Town Scottsdale like a three-dimensional version of PHOENIX magazine itself, with food, drink, crafts and performances by Valley vendors honored in our recent BOV issue. Here are some highlights:
Partygoers will groove to the “punkgrass” tunes of Best Local Band winner The Haymarket Squares and other performers.
The BOV Bash’s curated food lineup will include bites from Chef Bernie Kantak of gastropub mainstays The Gladly and Citizen Public House, nonprofit favorite The Joy Bus Diner, and the exciting fusion cuisine of Clever Koi and Fellow Osteria, among roughly two dozen others.
Sudsy pours from the beer bosses at Grand Canyon Brewing + Distillery, home of the state’s best lager and purveyor of barrel-aged specialty beers, along with other beer and winemakers.
Quaffable craft cocktails from mixology maestro Ross Simon of Little Rituals and Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.
Giveaways from Stinkweeds and other locally owned businesses.
Cat fancy alert! Our lineup of experience booths will include La Gattara Cat Lounge (pictured), Dig It Gardens and more.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Arizona Humane Society, our 2019 winner for Best Nonprofit. You won’t find a better way to cap off a hump day.
If You Go
2019 Best of the Valley Bash
When: Wednesday, October 23, 6:30-10 p.m.
Where: Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. Second St., Scottsdale
Cost: $50 ticket includes all food, beverages and experiences