The Old West is alive and well in Arizona! Since well before the modern era, Arizona has been home to numerous Native American tribes. And once the Spanish retreated from this area in the 1800s, prospectors and cowboys came in to build towns out of dusty desert, some of which still survive today. These historic cultures live on today through exciting events that preserve and celebrate Arizona’s roots.
Held in early February, the Annual World Championship Hoop Dance Festival is the most popular competition of its kind, drawing up to 80 competing dancers from different tribal backgrounds. The living tradition of the Native American hoop dance is a form of visual storytelling using as many as 30 or more hoops as props. The dances are a captivating mix of artistry and athleticism, a real delight for the spectator.
Also in early February, the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering is an annual cowboy culture event held outside of Tucson in Sierra Vista. This type of poetry and music is an art form that captures the history of the west, retelling the legends of the cowboy and capturing the joys, sorrows and even humor of the cowboy’s life.
In the second half of February, it’s time for the rodeo, buckaroos! The annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros, The Tucson Rodeo and Celebration of the Cowboys, is a 9-day event that has been running since 1925. This festival features hotly contested professional rodeo competitions as well as the world’s longest non-motorized parade.
Finally, in early March there’s another great cultural event at the Heard Museum – the annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market. This world acclaimed cultural event gathers native artists from all over the country, allowing visitors a firsthand look at Indian arts such as basket making, weaving, carving, pottery, jewelry, painting, beadwork and much more.
Any of these events would be great to include in an incentive itinerary, or as part of a meeting or conference stay in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. But of course, the Old West culture is still so pervasive in Arizona, it’s easy to incorporate an ‘Old West’ experience as part of an incentive trip any time of year.
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