The "winter" months of January and February are the busiest time of year for Tucson, with so many tourist-trapping events clogging our streets and crowding our fancier eateries that we're all better off getting out of town for a while.
My tickets for Disneyland have been booked for weeks, and my family will be taking full advantage of Tucson's outdated and sorely-in-need-of-rebranding four-day rodeo weekend. If you've got the means and opportunity to do so, I suggest you follow suit.
If not, hopefully you're ready to handle the worst week to be in Tucson.
Unless you're a big fan of calf roping or sand saves. Then it's the bestest week ever to be in Southern Arizona, according to mainstream media outlets, which love it when there's a chance to put together "Isn't this cool that we have this?" stories.
But that kind of fandom isn't the way to describe most of us here, because the vast majority of Tucsonans aren't golfers—despite the overabundance of desert carved into overwatered and manicured lawns. And nearly everyone knows there's a rodeo in town because our kids are out of school.
Both the Accenture Match Play Championship golf tournament at Dove Mountain to the north and the Fiesta de los Vaqueros at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds on the southside are huge draws, but mostly not for the Tucson everyman. They're tourist attractions, niche activities that are only important to certain interest groups and not representative of the populace as a whole.
But you wouldn't know that based on the promotion and pimping these events get from the region's various tourism bureaus and public relations machines, not to mention local government.
The town of Marana's Twitter feed becomes a de facto PR account for the Match Play, which runs from Feb. 17 to 23 at a golf course attached to the Ritz-Carlton, and understandably so, because what else is there of note in Marana?
And every Tucson City Council member suddenly becomes more than just a little bit country when the rodeo comes to town. The boots get shined, the bola ties and 10-gallon hats come out, and for the next 10 days or so they'll forget all about fighting off the Keep Tucson Shitty people and totally buy into the Keep Tucson Hickified movement.
Meanwhile, the Desert Diamond Cup soccer tournament has four triple-headers featuring host club FC Tucson and five Major League Soccer teams on tap between Feb. 19 and March 1, the latest step in Tucson's evolution into a soccer mecca. It's the perfect sport for this community to associate itself with, seeing as more kids around here play soccer than anything else. Other than video games, that is.
It's the fourth edition of this wildly popular event, and its past successes are a huge reason why Tucson has a full-fledged, high-level soccer complex on what used to be baseball fields on the north side of the Kino Sports Complex. It's also why there's a fancy 2,000-seat stadium built with Pima County tax money that will pay for itself in no time based on early returns.
The tournament is something that likely will keep growing as long as MLS remains interested in keeping Tucson as its western training hub. So why isn't the Desert Diamond Cup getting the Match Play treatment? Or, heck, even rodeo-level consideration? Where's the world's largest nonmechanized parade celebrating this event?
Collectively, these 12 soccer matches probably won't outdraw either the Match Play or the rodeo, but the tournament deserves more love. It's essentially a grass-roots movement to build a locally run sporting event, unlike the golf tournament, which was moved here in 2007 (and will probably skip town next year for somewhere that doesn't provide the chance of freak desert snowstorms). And the rodeo has long outlived its sexiness. Now in its 89th year, it's like that great-grandmother you reluctantly bring out once a year for Mother's Day brunch.
But instead of supporting a grass-root effort with a bright future, we look for the trendy, upper-crust option or stubbornly cling to the standard that was good enough for our ancestors.
It's why we have shiny new streetcar tracks grooved into streets from downtown to the UA campus while no realistic efforts are ever made to create a cross-town freeway along the Rillito, and why our pockmarked roads are perennial contenders in Manuel Noriega look-alike contests.