Tubac, Arizona Festival of the Arts – Mountains, history and art

Tubac Festival of the ArtsTubac, Arizona Festival of the Arts – A Fantastic setting
The Tubac Festival of the Arts is held annually in February. This small historic town in southern Arizona transforms its streets into an arts festival with music food and fun. The festival is Arizona’s longest running arts festival. The art is great, of course but what wows us is the setting and the people.

Tubac is 50 miles south of Tucson, Arizona off I-19 headed toward Nogales. It is an easy, scenic drive

Tubac is one of my favorite towns. Established in 1752, the Tubac Presidio stands today as a reminder of the influence of the Spanish in the area. Tubac is a Native American name. Tubac lies in the beautiful Santa Cruz valley. Often during the festival the beautiful mountains will appear with a dusting of snow.

Tubac has galleries representing local and national artists, fun and funky shops and some nice restaurants. As a year-round arts town, Tubac values art and artists. It is a warm and welcoming place to visit.

Not only is Tubac an arts town, it is a rural town. During the festival you will see horse-drawn wagons and trolleys with teams of horses from local ranches. You may encounter a deputy on horseback making his rounds. Tubac and the river trail (deAnza traveled there), is a birder’s paradise. Lovely trees dot the countryside and provide a habitat for migrating birds.

Like people in most small towns, the residents of Tubac are friendly. There are booths for the local humane oganizations, library and church mixed in with the art booths.  Tubac is one of those places that will endear itself to you and you will find yourself considering a longer vacation there or, perhaps, moving to the area.

Attending the Festival
The festival runs Wednesday through Sunday providing ample time to plan your visit. The hours are 10am to 5pm. Put on your walking shoes for this festival. There are three streets lined with artists’ tents, an extensive food court and, of course, all those galleries and shops to visit.

Plan to arrive early for a decent parking place. It will cost you $6.00, a fund-raiser for local projects. This is an open-air festival so wear a hat, use sunscreen and bring water. The weather is usually lovely… cold in the morning and toasty throughout the rest of the day. However, winds can arise and the weather can turn, so check the weather report before attending.

We walked down one street and smelled cigar smoke wafting through the air. As we looked in the direction of the smoke, we saw an amazing sight. A front yard full of tables and chairs and over a dozen older men contentedlyDaddy Day Care at the Cigar Shop sitting, talking, playing checkers and… smoking cigars! This was the “Daddy Day Care” hosted by the local cigar shop. What an idea! Needless to say, I was not the only one who smiled at this unexpected sight.

On another street we visited the Tohono Village courtyard with gallery and shops. The Trading Post  incorporates a courtyard with two shops. Visitors enter through a large gate. On the right you will see the beautiful gallery. On the left is the gift shop, also filled with Native American products. Toward the rear of the courtyard you will find traditional O’odham brush shelters. Artisans are invited to demonstrate their crafts there and Indian dancers often demonstrate authentic social dances. The day we were there, we visited with T.O. artist, Michael Chiago and enjoyed seeing some of Ellouise Padilla’s new jewelry.

The Art and Artists

The festival is a combination of fun art, fine art, jewelry, gourmet food items, art clothing and yard art. I especially enjoyed the fine leatherwork found at the Four Winds West booth. My friend purchased a belt and I fell for a gorgeous leather purse.

NJ Searcy Iron WorkLater, we enjoyed chatting with the folks from the Frolicking Deer Lavender Farms. We walked away with Lavender based moisturizer and, for cooking, a marvelous Herbs de Provence blend that included lavender.

Last but not least, we were amazed at the beautiful metal work by NJ Searcy. NJ had designed and hand crafted a gorgeous wall piece… birds on branches. NJ lives just north of Tubac and so her work is influenced by this birder’s paradise.

More Information
More on the Tubac Festival of the Arts

Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose
Southwest Gifts and Jewelry Online


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