Arizona is celebrating 100 years of statehood on Feb. 14, and because a centennial only comes along once a century, 2nd Saturdays Downtown and other organizations have joined forces to put on a show worthy of the event.
From Friday, Feb. 10, through Sunday, Feb. 12, Tucson's downtown will be packed with musicians, street performers, history re-enactors and lots of outdoor activities.
Music and other entertainment aimed at a variety of age groups will be performed on stages throughout the area, said Jamie Manser, program director of 2nd Saturdays Downtown.
For example, on Friday, the focus of the music during the late afternoon and early evening will be rockabilly and other Americana sounds, while at night, it will switch to Latin rhythms and Mexican-American music, Manser said.
On Saturday, entertainment for kids will include magicians, the performance group Puppets Amongus, and the clown troupe The Wonderfools. Attendees can also enjoy a Ferris wheel for $4 per ride.
Also on Saturday, Grammy-winning artist Sam Moore, the "Sam" in Sam and Dave of "Soul Man" fame, will perform at 8 p.m. at the stage at Sixth Avenue and Pennington Street. Rolling Stone named Moore one of the 100 greatest singers of all time.
Attendees can also check out presidential candidate Al "Dick" Perry performing with Al Perry and the Cattle, and shows by the 62nd Army Band from Fort Huachuca and the Poi-Zen fire troupe.
The celebration will be as good for the brain as it is for the ears.
Living-history events include "A Chat With Noted Tucsonans of the Past," organized by the Downtown Centennial Committee, which starts at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, at the Fox Theatre.
An actor portraying Frederico Ronstadt will talk about "Tucson Up to Now—1912." Other performers will bring to life notable Tucsonans including Isabella Greenway, Monte Mansfield and Mayor Lewis Murphy.
Folklorist James "Big Jim" Griffith will talk about Tucson in the mid-20th century, and storyteller Jon Richins will take a look at Tucson in current times—and explain what the future may hold.
The event will end with a showing of Life in Southern Arizona at the Beginning of the 20th Century, a historic film from the Tucson Sunshine Climate Club, forerunner of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau.
To further encourage residents and visitors to sample Arizona's history and culture, admission to many downtown museums will be free during the celebration.
The Centennial Celebration is also a good event for soccer fanatics. On Saturday, FC Tucson will hold a street-soccer showdown on Fifth Avenue between Congress Street and Toole Avenue. Five-man teams will compete against each other; there is no entry fee, and the team that stays on the field the longest without losing a match will win tickets to the Desert Diamond Cup. Major League Soccer players are slated to be in attendance.
On Sunday, a bike ride through the downtown area will include a tour of downtown trees.
"We are part of a coalition called '1,000 Trees, Please,' that started in 2007," said Diana Rhoades, an administrative assistant to City Councilwoman Regina Romero. "We have reached our 1,000 trees, and the tour is to understand which plants are native, and which ones were planted."
The ride starts at Broadway Boulevard and Scott Avenue and will last about 90 minutes.
All in all, it's shaping up as a weekend filled with diversity, Manser said—just like Arizona.