By Juliana Brutsche
Looking for a staycation and a great way to celebrate Earth Day this year? Head to the Verde Valley for a weekend of wine, art and earthy fun! The Verde Valley Arts Council will host its inaugural Old Town Arts Festival on Saturday, April 22 from 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
The event will feature fine arts, selected fine crafts from Arizona artists, as well as live entertainment, wine tasting by local wineries, and farm to table demonstrations. The Manheim Gallery and ARC Contemporary Fine Art will be open to the public, with additional exhibits and interactive experiences outside the building. Old Town Center for the Arts (OTCA) will also be hosting the world-class Japanese Taiko drummer Ken Koshio & Kenzoo’s Celebration of the Earth as the headliner concert at 7:00 p.m.
Other activities include a Trash to Treasure fashion show that will feature recycled, repurposed, and reclaimed clothing and fabrics to delight festivalgoers; a “Trash-o-saurus” art exhibit; “Color Me Cottonwood” community mural; family kayaking excursions; and more. To put some spice and taste into the festival offerings, local chef Chris Dobrowolski will host a “Chopped” competition with locally grown produce and micro-greens to kick off his newly-opened restaurant, The Muse Bistro, located in the front cottage of the OTCA complex.
There is no better way to quench your appetite for local food, arts, and entertainment than a weekend getaway to the hidden gem of Cottonwood. Located just 100 miles north of Phoenix in the beautiful Verde Valley, Cottonwood is the “heart of Arizona’s wine country,” boasting multiple vineyards and tasting rooms. Local award winning wineries include Winery 101, Pillsbury Wine Company, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Fire Mountain Wines, Burning Tree Cellars, Caduceus Cellars, and Alcantara Winery. Don’t worry, beer lovers – Cottonwood has got you covered, too! Walk to Bootlegger’s Saloon and RIOT in Old Town or cruise a short distance to THAT Brewery.
If that is not enough to whet your appetite, check out all the great local restaurants located within walking distance of the festival: Tavern Grill, Crema Café, Red Rooster Cafe, Nic’s Italian Steak & Crab House, Pizzeria Bocce, Bing’s Burgers, Thai Palace, Merkin Vineyards Osteria, Abbie’s Fine Foods & Catering, Hog Wild BBQ, Kactus Kate’s Saloon, Old Town Café, Paradise Point Café, RIOT in Old Town, 3 Kings Kasbar & Epiphany on Pima, Wild Rose Tea House, or Colt 804 Grill.
All this action comes with a small-town Main Street vibe that is relaxed but pleasantly sophisticated. After you get your fill of food and spirits, take a stroll and enjoy all the great local shops and galleries – you won’t be disappointed!
Settle in for your Old Town Cottonwood adventure at one of the many local boutique hotels or vacation rentals right on Main Street, such as The Tavern Hotel, The Historic Cottonwood Hotel, The Iron Horse Inn, or The Bottle Tree Inn.
For more on the Old Town Arts Festival, visit oldtownartsfest.com.
Juliana Brutsche is certified in Creative Placemaking. She is a successful arts and culture grant writer and fundraiser for non-profits and municipalities, specializing in community building and economic development. Her focus is on grass roots initiatives that emphasize diversity, social justice and service to rural and under served communities or groups throughout the state of Arizona. She is an active member of Arizona Association for Economic Development and AZ Town Hall. She is a Founding Member and Director of the Verde Valley Arts Council.