National Day of the Cowboy So, what are your plans for National Day of the Cowboy this year? And don't you dare say you don't have plans—what kind of Arizonan wouldn't celebrate our state's heritage on such a momentous occasion? Luckily, the Empire Ranch Foundation has got you covered with this free, family event. There will be a presentation about "George Bascom, Cochise and the Start of the Apache Wars" by Doug Hocking. Bruce Andre will be playing music. You can take a trail ride, go on a docent-led tour or participate in the silent auction or raffle. And there will even be demonstrations on everything from horse training to blacksmithing. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 27. Empire Ranch (take the I-10 E to Route 83 South, and watch for it between mile posts 40 and 39). See their website for detailed directions!
Summer Safari Nights at Reid Park Zoo. No one species in the animal kingdom, aside from whatever species the folks in Daft Punk are, can truly be harder, better, faster and stronger than all the other species. This week's "Animal Athletes" theme at the Reid Park zoo can help settle the questions of which species rule specific categories. Who's the fastest, for example? How about strongest, or smartest? Tonight stars the giraffe, elephant, vulture and ostrich. The Just Intervals are playing live music to guide you through a night of games, animal encounters, food and drink specials and plenty of learning. 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 27. Reid Park Zoo, 3400 Zoo Court. $10.50 adults, $8.50 seniors, $6.50 kids ages 2 to 14 and free for zoo members.
Body Positive Pool Party. You got a body? You got a swimsuit? Then you've got a swimsuit body! Head on over to Hotel McCoy, where Brunch Babes Tucson is unapologetically celebrating all of the shapes and colors that make us beautiful! DJ Mother Tierra will provide the soundtrack for you to party your way through the pool (full of plenty of floaties), mimosa bar and lunch by Pops Chicken. Body positive advocate Jamie JeTaime will be in the house as well! If you want to stay for the sleepover, there's even more fun: a poolside screening of "The Breakfast Club," popcorn, a swag bag, a braid bar and psychic readings! 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 27. Hotel McCoy, 720 W. Silverlake Road. Pool party only is $40, while sleepover/room packages vary in price.
Flashback Friday Nights at Old Tucson. There's nothing like a sunset drive out west down Gates Pass, where you can watch the worries of the day melt into a colorful symphony of fading light. This Friday, don't just drive out west down Gates Pass—drive to the Wild West, by attending Old Tucson's special summer event. Their signature, rootin' tootin' entertainment will be accompanied by sunset food and drink specials, a starry night sky and (hopefully) you and your family! Kids 11 and under get in free! 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 26. Old Tucson, 201 S. Kinney Road. $10.95 for adults.
Make It Mondays! Move over, Garfield. We're actually excited about Mondays now. Because summers in Tucson mean you get to spend your Mondays at the local children's museum for just three bucks. Plus, there are special guests onsite from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This week, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society Inc. Community are visiting to teach visitors about why rocks, well... rock! And before and after your own personal gem show brigade, check out the butterfly garden, the whistle stop and exhibits on gravity and electricity. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, July 29. Children's Museum Tucson, 200 S. Sixth Ave. $3.
Dog Days of Summer at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Ever wonder why they're called the "dog days of summer?" It's because summer is when the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius, occurs, and Sirius is also known as the "Dog Star." So, for ancient Greeks and Romans, the hottest days of the year were also associated with the prominence of an enormous, dog-shaped constellation in the sky (Canis-Major). The second reason why they're called the dog days of summer is because you can get your dog a summer membership to the Tucson Botanical Gardens and let them enjoy everything you enjoy about that place. Through Sept. 30. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day, except it's open until 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. $3 per dog per day, or $20 for an unlimited summer dog membership.
Cool Summer Nights. They say knowledge is one of the greatest weapons a person can have, so if you're afraid of bugs, this is a chance for you to load up on some knowledge ammunition. Artist Guy Coheleach, who has traveled all over the world to have up-close and personal interactions with animals, is exhibiting some work, and kids visiting the Ironwood Gallery will have a chance to create some art of their own. You can also take a selfie with a moth, try a cricket-infused treat, and learn about why bugs are for everyone from the "Beetlelady." Plus, the Packrat Playhouse and stingray touch exhibit. 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 27. Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road. $21.95 GA, $19.95 seniors 65+, $8.95 for kids 3 to 12, free for kids under 3, $17.95 for active or retired military, $16.95 for Arizona/Sonora residents.
American Pole League Championships. It's the event you didn't know you were waiting for! A competition between some of the best pole athletes in the world. Yeah, like pole dancing. If you don't think pole dancing requires truly impressive amounts of athleticism, we invite you to consider how difficult it is to do a pull up, to do the splits and to hold a plank, and then to imagine basically doing all three at the same time, while also looking sexy. With competitions in pole sports, artistic pole, para pole and aerial hoop for all levels, you'll find something to be impressed by, we're sure. 9 a.m. Saturday, July 27. Sporting Chance Center, 2100 W. Curtis Road. $25, or free for ages 10 and under.
Arizona Theatre Company Summer on Stage. ATC's summer program for high school actors and stage techs gives youth a chance to put on one musical and one straight play every year. This year's straight play is Qui Nguyen's She Kills Monsters, about a high schooler dealing with the death of her little sister. When she finds her little sister's Dungeons & Dragons notebook, the show turns into a comedy full of fairies, ogres and '90s pop culture galore. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25, and 2 p.m. Saturday, July 27. This year's musical is Roald Dahl's Matilda, a show that, at its core, is all about how magical it is to be a child. 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 26, and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27. Both shows are at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. $12, or $10 for students.
In From the Heart Luncheon: Music of César Franck. There's something lovely about the soaring, grand music of an organ, perhaps especially in what can feel like the too-mellow, doldrum-y days of summer. So don't miss this chance to see three Tucson organists—Janet Tolman, Larry Kuipers and Dennis Grannan—perform three of Franck's organ chorales after a luncheon. What a pleasant, cool way to spend a Saturday afternoon! Noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27. Catalina United Methodist Church, 2700 E. Speedway Blvd. $10 donation.
Female Story Tellers Presents: Half Baked. This week, our local, loveable league of women who are as funny as they are insightful will be sharing stories around the theme "half-baked." Perhaps one of them will share a story about the not one, but two times growing up, that they accidentally forgot the flour in a baking recipe, and ended up with a horrifying puddle of goo that was not so much half-baked as it was 100 percent molten lava. Or perhaps that's not a universal experience. ASL interpreters are provided, and proceeds benefit a local nonprofit. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 25. Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. $8. 21+.
Learn Something New
Learn to Read Music Class. You've probably heard of Sons of Orpheus, the male choir of Tucson. And you've probably heard them as well. They've teamed up with the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus to offer this free class throughout the summer, for anyone who wants to learn how to read music. Seriously, regardless of age, regardless of experience, you can come in and learn about notes, rhythm, clefs, key signatures and musical notations at your own pace. And feel free to bring any questions you might have as well! 7 p.m. every Monday this summer. Boys Chorus Building, 5770 E. Pima St. Free.
Desert Café and Art Gallery. We all know the plants of the desert are beautiful and colorful, but you might not know about all the ways there are to eat them! At this library event, Tucson Botanical Garden docent and Certified Arizona Master Naturalist Carol Anderson will be teaching you about all the hidden snacks of the Sonora. She'll provide recipes for mesquite, cactus and tepary beans, as well as teach you more about how plants like the nopal cactus can be used to make dyes. And it's right before dinnertime, so you can head home and try the ideas right away! 5 to 6 p.m. Monday, July 29. Himmel Park Library, 1035 N. Treat Ave. Free.
Fun in General
Pop Cycle's Super Summer Sale. One of Tucson's most charming, locally owned stores, Pop Cycle, is pop, lock and dropping their prices as part of Fourth Avenue's super summer sale weekend, with 20 percent off storewide and up to 50 percent off select items. Now's your chance to get that pair of earrings, bolo tie, wall-hanging or other adorable item you've been saving up for. And it's not just Pop Cycle! Be sure to check out the sales up and down Fourth Ave. Pop Cycle's sale is 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, July 26, through Sunday, July 28. 422 N. Fourth Ave.
10th Annual Garlic Festival at Triangle T Ranch. I am eating a garlicky salsa as I write this. I hope you are enjoying a garlicky snack as you read this. It's all a good warmup for a field trip to Dragoon for this special event, where we can all go eat garlic together. Enjoy some live music, craft booths and plenty of garlic (and other edible delights) from local farmers market vendors. Feel guilty about the garlic breath you'll inflict on everyone when you get back to Tucson? Your conscience can rest easy knowing that the festival benefits the Wounded Warrior Project and the Make a Wish Foundation—you'll more than make up the karma. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28. Triangle T Guest Ranch, 4190 Dragoon Road.
Ninth Annual Breeze in the Trees 5K. A lot more people would probably be runners if we got to run through fields of pecan trees all the time. So, hey, if you've ever even considered running a 5K (3.1 miles), what more pleasant way to start than by winding your way through the Green Valley Pecan Farm orchards? An early start time means you'll only get "very sweaty," not the "extremely sweaty" you would be if you started your run later in the day. Ready, set, go! 6:30 a.m. start, 5:30 a.m. start for day-of registration. Saturday, July 27. The Green Valley Pecan Company, 1625 E. Sahuarita Road. $35.
Southwest Wings Nature and Birding Festival. Calling all birders! And calling all people who think they might be slightly interested in birding and aren't sure where to start! And calling all Tucsonans, who really ought to at least be aware of how many cool birds there are to see 'round these parts! The "greatest little birding festival in the United States" is here, so come one, come all. Sergio Avila of the Sierra Club is the keynote speaker, and there are excursions aplenty to sign up for. Some of the free events include talks on arachnids, raptor identification and the elusiveness of javelinas. The festival goes from Wednesday, July 31, to Saturday, Aug. 3 with events at various times and various locations. See swings.org for specifics! ■