The Magic of Glass, Live
The S.T.E.A.M. Off
9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 13, and Sunday, April 14
Sonoran Glass School, 633 W. 18th St.; Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio, 711 S. Sixth Ave.
"We feel there's a gap between science and art. They are not appreciated equally, when really one is needed for the other in order to innovate," Nick Letson of the Sonoran Glass School said about this weekend's S.T.E.A.M. Off event.
S.T.E.A.M., the idea behind the glass competition, is an educational philosophy that stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math.
Twelve prominent Arizona glass artists will choose teams of two or three people and have two hours to complete their pieces. They will also create a poster explaining the science behind the glasswork they are creating as well as explain it as they work.
"I think what's interesting and different about this live competition ... is that it's really focused on science," Letson said.
The competition will be judged by Roger Angel, director of the mirror laboratory at UA's Steward Observatory. It takes place simultaneously at the Sonoran Glass School and Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio, which are within walking distance of each other.
The first-place winner will receive $1,000. Second and third place are worth $500 and $250, respectively. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony and gallery reception at Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.
Letson said that people "can expect to see glass in a whole new light and gain a new appreciation for the role that science and art can play together."
Tickets are $25 a day. Pieces created during the competition will be for sale, with the proceeds going to Sonoran Glass School's youth programs, which serve lower-income schools and at-risk youth.
Local Talents Take Center Stage
The 2013 Marana Bluegrass Festival
9:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., Saturday, April 13, and Sunday, April 14
Ora Mae Harn Park, 13250 N. Lon Adams Road
A dozen bluegrass bands from the Tucson and Phoenix areas will perform this weekend at the 2013 Marana Bluegrass Festival.
The festival is presented by the Desert Bluegrass Association of Tucson, the Arizona Bluegrass Association of Phoenix and S&S Bluegrass Promotion. The 12 bands scheduled to be on hand are Bost Family Traditions, Run Boy Run, Superstition Ridge, Grits N Roses, Titan Valley Warheads, Dusty River Boys, Old Pueblo Bluegrass, The Real Deal, Cinder Mountain, Rusty Strings, Nehemiah 4:20 and Desert Heart.
"Our aim at the Desert Bluegrass Association is to really promote bluegrass in the Southwest, Southern Arizona specifically," said Jim Sanchez of the Desert Bluegrass Association and S&S Bluegrass Promotion. "The Arizona Bluegrass Association, they promote bluegrass in the Phoenix metro area and Northern Arizona. So together, we hope that ... we get to showcase Arizona's bands."
Sanchez and his business partner, Charlie Sides, started working to put this festival together in 2011, and hope it will become a tradition.
Sides said the festival gives local bands that might not otherwise have a chance to perform in public a place to showcase their talent.
"There are a lot of bands that are fully qualified and capable but will never get to see (a) festival stage," he said. "We felt like this was a good opportunity to put together something where those bands will get an opportunity to be on the festival stage and get exposure."
Tickets are $7 per day, or $12 for a weekend pass. Children younger than 12 are admitted free with an adult. Camping is $5 per day, or free with a weekend pass.
World's Largest Wild West Convention
Wild West Performing Arts Society's Annual Convention and Championships
10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, April 12, through Sunday, April 14
Old Tucson Studios, 201 S. Kinney Road
Some of the best trick ropers, six-gun twirlers and knife throwers in the world will be on hand at Old Tucson Studios this weekend for the Wild West Performing Arts Society's convention and world championships.
The event is known as the largest annual gathering of Wild West performers anywhere, said Buck Montgomery, the society's founder.
The society is based in Phoenix, and the event has been held in Las Vegas for the past three years. But an organizational change has resulted in it moving to Tucson, and Montgomery said Old Tucson Studios is likely to be its longtime home because it's the perfect venue.
"Probably the best place to do a Wild West arts convention would be at Old Tucson," Montgomery said. "It's so iconic. It just lends itself to it."
While many performers have a number of Old West skills, some are very specialized. Adam "Crack" Winrich, for instance, has been named top bullwhip artist at the championships for the past three years, and is among the competition's most popular performers, Montgomery said.
Although the competition is focused on Wild West performances, Montgomery said that the talent on display will interest just about anyone.
"You could hate cowboys—you could hate anything that's Western," Montgomery said, "But once you see a guy do some trick roping, this is something you don't see every day. There's mass appeal for this."
Spectators will be encouraged to participate in a number of workshops. Admission to the competition is included in the regular admission price for Old Tucson, which is $16.95 for adults and $10.95 for children ages 4 to 11.
Robots Take Over Himmel Park
Robotics in Tucson
3:30 to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 13
Himmel Park Library, 1035 N. Treat Ave.
In celebration of National Robotics Week, several local clubs are hosting an event that invites the public to learn more about the world of robotics.
Local robotics clubs the Bit Buckets and Jackalope Science are hosting "Robotics in Tucson," a local competition to build a robot that aims to showcase the work of local teams. The competition will also provide resources to those in the community interested in joining or creating a robotics team of their own, said Terry Nordbrock, a volunteer parent mentor for the Bit Buckets.
Tables will be placed throughout the Himmel Park Library meeting room, with the competitors at each table divided by age group. So far, three teams have signed on for the competition. Nordbrock said that the competition helps students learn how to build robots.
"These competitions are marvelous for focusing your efforts," she said. The competition "has a certain magic that really inspires the kids to learn all the programming that's involved."
The robots themselves will vary in size and capability, but are all interesting in their own way, Nordbrock said. The smaller ones are easy to play with, and the larger ones can perform complex tasks such as throwing a Frisbee or operating underwater.
"[The robots] do get more impressive as the builders get older," she added. "The Frisbee-tossing ones are especially impressive to engineers, who kind of really get how much work it was to make it do what it does."
But Nordbrock emphasized that attendees won't need engineering degrees to enjoy the competition. Certain robots will be available for attendees to operate. The event is free.