Oracle Arizona Fiesta de las Calabazas
A Pumpkin Festival
As the hot southern Arizona summer recedes into autumn, those who live in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona year round begin to venture out from their air conditioned cars, homes, offices and shopping malls and into the warm (but no longer hot) and dry climate that makes this area such a great place to live most of the year.
While those living in the northern part of the nation see the autumn season as the end of outdoor activities and begin preparing to shelter themselves from the coming winter, Arizonans are getting ready to embrace the outdoors once again.
And what better way to get out and enjoy the beautiful autumn weather than to attend a Calabazas Fiesta?
Of course Calabazas is simply the Spanish word for Pumpkins and Fiesta is Spanish for Festival so we are talking about a Pumpkin Festival here.
Jack-O'-Lantern Face on Gourd
Kannally Family Ranch Home in Oracle Arizona
A Celebration of Autumn
Fall, winter and spring are Arizonan's time to be out of doors and they embrace these three seasons with outdoor activities and festivals.
Our plan for this weekend was to spend part of Saturday visiting the Fiesta de las Calabazas at Oracle State Park located about 30 miles north of our home. The festival ran from ten in the morning until 7 in the evening and I had hoped to head up there mid-morning but, my wife had to attend a mid-morning function at work and when she returned I discovered among the clutter on my desk the notice from a couple of weeks ago that her car was due for its annual emissions test which had to be done before we could renew her license plates which were due to expire on Monday. As a result we had to detour to the nearest emissions test center before heading north to the festival. We finally arrived at the festival about two which still gave us plenty of time to enjoy it.
While this was our first visit to the festival, it was actually the eighth annual running of this festival which started in 2000 and since 2002 has been held in beautiful Oracle State Park in the town of Oracle, Arizona. Situated in the northern foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Oracle State Park and the surrounding area is located at a slightly higher altitude than Tucson with the park being 3,500 to 4,500 feet in altitude versus about 2,500 feet for Tucson. As a result, it was both a little cooler and the mountain backdrop closer and a little more spectacular than Tucson. The park itself was once a part of the Kannally Ranch which was once a vast 50,000 acre operation most of which was sold to the Magma Copper Company in 1952. The remaining 4,000 acres were later donated to the State of Arizona for use as a state park following the death of the last surviving member of the family, Lucile Kannally, in 1976.
My Wife Greets Her First Snake
The festival itself was a typical rural harvest type festival with food, exhibits for children, music, arts and crafts for sale by local artists and just general fun. Not having eaten since breakfast, we were hungry when we arrived and were fortunate that there was still some food available. Four dollars apiece brought us each a plate of beans and shredded beef.
At the Tucson Herpetological Society Booth, my wife, with great reluctance, got to touch her first live snake. A member of the society was holding a live snake and having people touch it. My wife politely declined at first. But she wanted a picture of the snake and the handler told her he would only pose if she touched the snake while posing.
One of the old corrals of the ranch housed the Pumpkin Patch where hundreds of pumpkins and other goards, all decorated by local school children, were on display for viewing and voting on.
Finally, at the top of the hill by the ranch house were the craft booths and stage with live musicians playing southwestern music.
Touching a Snake
Rattle Snake in a Cage
Gourds Decorated for Halloween
Links to My Other Halloween & Fall Activities Hubs
- A Dia de los Muertos Celebration in Tucson
Da de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is an autumn religious holiday whose origins pre-date both the European arrival in the New World and Christianity. However, like other pre-Christian holidays such as...
- Holidays - Origins of Halloween
The old saying, variety is the spice of life, says much about the need to enrich our lives and reinvigorate our spirits by deviating periodically from our daily routine. While daily routines like,...
- Black Cats and Halloween
Like other holidays, Halloween has symbols associated with it. These symbols help to shape our view of the holiday. When we think of Halloween we think of the colors black and orange. Images of carved...
- The Haunted Cornfield
Autumn has always been a great time of year. For farmers it is the harvesting season while for city dwellers it is a time to begin returning indoors and refocusing on work or school after a summer in the...
- How to Turn a Pumpkin into a Jack-O-Lantern
Utter the word Halloween and the first image that comes to most people's minds is a Jack-O'-Lantern - a pumpkin with a face carved on it. The practice of celebrating Halloween with Jack-O'-Lanterns is an...
- Ghostly White Pumpkins
Variety, it is said, is the spice of life. Being able to try or choose new things and having the opportunity to make a choice among many similar things are freedoms that we take for granted. We can take...
- Pumpkins - History and Lore
In this season of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Fall harvests the pumpkin plays a major role, both as a decoration, Jack-O-Lanterns and center pieces, as well as food with pumpkin pie being the most famous. ...
- El Da de los Muertos - Mexican Day of the Dead
El Da de los Muertos or, Day of the Dead, is an ancient Mexican holiday that is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. Even though there are many similarities between El Da de los Muertos and Halloween, this...
- Halloween Fun for Dog Owners
Halloween used to be a night when children dressed up in costume and went from house to house begging for treats. In times past costumes were simple. Cut a couple of holes for eyes in the middle of an old...
© 2007 Chuck Nugent
More by this Author
Tucson's Garden of Gethsemane is a small park containing religious sculptures created by Felix Lucero, a WWI soldier's promised gift to God for sparing him when he lay wounded on a battlefield.
Peppersauce Cave in southern Arizona is relatively well known cave but, lacking any type of facilities it is not a tourist attraction. Instead it is situated a wilderness area on the north side of Mt. Lemon in the...
With so many Americans traveling and working abroad to say nothing of meeting people via the Internet, it is not surprising that many are finding love and marrying someone from abroad. Here is how to legally bring your...