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

Gourd Decorated Halloween Pumpkin
Gourd Decorated Halloween Pumpkin | Source

Lunch

First stop - Lunch!
First stop - Lunch! | Source

Kannally Family Ranch Home in Oracle Arizona

The Kannally family home situated on top of a hill overlooking the park.  The home, which is now a museum, along with the surrounding land and buildings was donated by Lucile Kannally in her will to the State of Arizona to be used as a park.
The Kannally family home situated on top of a hill overlooking the park. The home, which is now a museum, along with the surrounding land and buildings was donated by Lucile Kannally in her will to the State of Arizona to be used as a park. | Source

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.

Javelinas frolicking in a Pumpkin Patch
Javelinas frolicking in a Pumpkin Patch | Source
Green Chiles being roasted at the Chile Willy's booth.
Green Chiles being roasted at the Chile Willy's booth. | Source

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

My wife touching - just barely - her first snake.
My wife touching - just barely - her first snake. | Source

Rattle Snake in a Cage

An exhibit warning golfers to check before reaching into the bushes to retrieve a golf ball (Note the live rattlesnake cuddled up to the right side of the golf ball in the acquarium)
An exhibit warning golfers to check before reaching into the bushes to retrieve a golf ball (Note the live rattlesnake cuddled up to the right side of the golf ball in the acquarium) | Source

Gourds Decorated for Halloween

This corral now holds pumpkins and goards instead of horses and cows.
This corral now holds pumpkins and goards instead of horses and cows. | Source

Pained Gourd

Painted Gourd Depicting Howling Coyote
Painted Gourd Depicting Howling Coyote | Source
show route and directions
A markerTucson, AZ -
Tucson, AZ, USA
[get directions]

B markerOracle State Park, Arizona -
Oracle State Park, 3820E Wildlife Drive, Oracle, AZ 85623, USA
[get directions]

C markerPhoenix, AZ -
Phoenix, AZ, USA
[get directions]

© 2007 Chuck Nugent

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Comments 2 comments

bobmnu 8 years ago

Sounds like fun. Thos of us from up north do like to change in climate and we have summer and fall festivals. Some crazies enjoy the winter Ice Fishing Contests too. It is always nice to get a taste of the local flavor.


aglocoincome profile image

aglocoincome 8 years ago from Ostrava Poruba

Thank you for sharing. Great photo...

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