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YUMA, ARIZONA – It’s that time of year again! As the chill sets in to the north, folks in Yuma are enjoying cool evenings and fresh mornings in the world’s sunniest destination. So what are you waiting for? Make your travel plans now around one of our favorite annual events:
20th Annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival, Nov. 18-20 (various locations around Yuma) – Three Yuma businesses organized the first Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival in 1991. Now sponsored by the Caballeros de Yuma, this invitational festival draws balloonists from as far as England. The festival usually features flights on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a “balloon glow” Saturday night. More info, www.caballeros.org, 928-343-1715.
El Toro Bowl, Dec. 3 (Veterans Memorial Stadium, AWC) – Leading junior college football teams clash in this game presented by Time Warner Cable, while their fans enjoy a full weekend of festivities in the sunshine. More info, www.eltorobowl.com, 928-343-0388.
Dorothy Young Memorial Centennial Electric Light Parade, Dec. 10 (Historic North End) – Kick off your celebration of Arizona’s centennial! With the theme of “Yuma, 100 years in the Making,” the parade features marching bands, equestrian units and lots of decorated and illuminated floats. More info, www.visityuma.com, 1-800-293-0071, 928-783-0071. After the parade, enjoy a holiday party downtown, more info, call 928-373-5028.
Centennial Christmas Village, Dec. 16-23 (Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park) – Our magical Christmas Village includes a sledding hill with real snow and a Heritage Express train ride to explore holiday traditions from 1912, when Arizona became a state. Marvel at thousands of lights and with walk-in-sized playhouses with fun activities, along with entertainment, visits with Santa and one-of-a-kind gifts in our crafts market. Presented by Yuma Visitors Bureau and the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, more info, www.visityuma.com, 800-293-0071 or 928-783-0071.
Spirit of Yuma Military Festival, Jan. 13-15 (Historic Downtown Yuma) – With a history dating back to the days of Fort Yuma and the Yuma Quartermaster Depot, Yuma has always been a “military-friendly town.” This City of Yuma event honors veterans and active-duty service members and celebrates Yuma’s relationship with its modern-day bases, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma and the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, More info, 928-373-5028.
Gathering of the Gunfighters, Jan. 14-15 (Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park) – Old West re-enactment groups from around the Southwest ride into town for this annual showdown. But instead of hot lead, what’s flying is fightin’ words – and acting! Groups are judged on skits and whether their get-ups, gear and firearms are authentic to the 1876-1909 time period. And though they didn’t really have shootouts in the prison, the historic setting adds flavor to the fun. More info, www.historicyumaprison.com, 928-783-4771.
Yuma Territorial Marathon and Half-Marathon, Jan. 28 (Cocopah Casino & Resort) – This certified, chip-timed race is a good bet for record times because it’s a flat, low-altitude, out-and-back course – and January weather in Yuma is usually sunny but cool. Avoid the crowds, run in Yuma – and qualify for Boston! More info, www.yumamarathon.com, 928-343-1715
Civil War Days, Jan. 28-29 (Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park) – True, there were no Civil War battles waged here – but the Quartermaster Depot was an active (Union) Army post and a strategic point of defense because of the river crossing and trails to California. Authentic re-enactment groups converge for an old-school encampment and mock battles on the grassy grounds of the park. More info, www.yumaheritage.com, 928-373-5198.
Yuma River Daze, Feb. 3-5 (Historic North End) – This family-friendly arts and crafts festival is a great opportunity to discover downtown diversity. More info, 928-373-5028.
Silver Spur Rodeo, Feb. 10-12 (Yuma County Fairgrounds) – The Yuma Jaycees have proudly presented this unique American sport for the last 65 years – and celebrate Arizona’s Centennial at this year’s event. This PRCA-sanctioned rodeo draws top riders from around the Turquoise Circuit and beyond. In addition to the rodeo, there’s a parade Saturday morning and dances Friday and Saturday nights. More info, www.yumajaycees.org, 928-344-5451.
Yuma Square Dance Festival, Feb. 10-12 (Yuma Civic Center) – A long-time Yuma tradition, this event brings dancers from throughout the Western states for down-home dancin’ with callers and cuers from around the region. As a special treat to celebrate Arizona’s Centennial, the California Heritage Dancers will demonstrate vintage dances in period costume at this year’s festival. More info, www.ysrda.weebly.com, 928-782-0844.
Yuma Crossing Day / Redondo Days, Feb. 11 (Historic North End) – It was the Colorado River and the natural crossing here in Yuma that brought this area to life and shaped its history. This Celebrate the Centennial with historic re-enactments, a fiesta and the reunion of one of Arizona’s leading pioneer families. More info, 928-782-1841.
Midnight at the Oasis, March 2-4 (Ray Kroc Baseball Complex) – The Southwest's premier classic car and nostalgia festival! Featuring 1,000 classic cars, this festival also offers a smorgasbord of regional food from local nonprofits, vendors from all around the West, rides for the kids, old-time rock and roll concerts Friday and Saturday night – and to kick things off, a classic car cruise. More info, www.midnightattheoasis.net, 928-343-1715.
Yuma Lettuce Days, March 10-11 (Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park) – Arizona has long been known for citrus and cotton – but the fertile lands here at the Colorado River’s delta are lush and green all winter, serving as the nation’s salad bowl. This event celebrates Yuma’s booming agriculture industry with a culinary flair, with celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations and more. More info, www.yumalettucedays.com, 800-293-0071.
Marine Corps Air Station Yuma 50th Annual Air Show, March 17 (MCAS Yuma) – MCAS Yuma, the busiest air station in the Corps, traces its roots to the earliest days of flying in Arizona and this year celebrates the centennial of Marine Corps aviation, too. This is one of the largest air shows in the Southwest, drawing more than 40,000 people annually to view military and civilian aircraft on the ground and aloft. More info, www.yumaairshow.com, 928-269-3327.
3:10 to Yuma Celebration, March 31 (Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park) – Celebrate Yumans stepping forward to “save the prison” from closing because of the state’s budget woes. Gala dinner, entertainment, live auction of unique experiences such as dinner in the dark cell. More info, www.historicyumaprison.com, 928-783-4771.
Yuma County Fair, April 3-8 (Yuma County Fairgrounds) – With its agricultural traditions and small-town feel, Yuma is the perfect place to take in an old-fashioned county fair with fair food, rides, entertainment, animals and exhibits. More info, www.yumafair.com or 928-726-4420.
ARTbeat 4, April 21 (Yuma Art Center, Historic Downtown) – This will be the fourth year for this free, juried show that’s been recognized as one of Arizona’s outstanding arts events. Enjoy an eclectic mix of recognized and emerging local, regional and international artists working in a wide variety of media. More info, www.yumaaz.gov/4745.htm, 373-5202.
Sound like a full calendar? These events are just a taste of all that’s fun in the sun in Yuma this year. Get updated info anytime at www.yumacalendar.org or sign up to receive a free weekly events e-newsletter at our website, www.visityuma.com.
Ann Walker, YVB Media Relations specialist:
928-376-0100 (office), 928-210-9044 (cell), or email email@example.com
Visitor Information Center: 1-800-293-0071
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