Supporting Small Businesses in a Crisis

Chamber steps up to reassure community

By Kathryn M. Miller ~ National Small Business Week has been postponed. The U.S. Small Business Administration event, originally scheduled for May 3–9, is an annual celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation. Never has there been a greater time for innovation in the small business community, nor a better time for recognition at all levels of our local small businesses.

There are more than 550,000 small businesses, (those with fewer than 500 employees) in Arizona, and it is estimated that these businesses employ one million workers, representing 44.5 percent of the state’s private workforce.

Studies show that when residents buy local, it makes a difference. But what happens when a crisis hits — and businesses are closed, or scramble to change their business model in an effort to meet demands or just stay afloat? At press time, Arizona is still under the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” Executive Order, which is set to expire April 30. Whether or not safety restrictions are lifted in May, the small business landscape has been forever altered, and the community is looking for help.

Representing nearly 400 businesses in the Carefree, Cave Creek, Phoenix and Scottsdale area, the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce is just one organization that is stepping up to provide resources for businesses that are experiencing the challenging impacts of COVID-19.

Patty Villeneuve, president and CEO of the Chamber, says that the main challenge that they are helping members overcome is the fear of the unknown.

“Once we truly understand we are all in this together we can breathe a small sigh of relief and buckle in to communicate what unique need one business has versus another.”

To help communicate with the community, the Chamber has created a comprehensive resource page that is easily found on the front page of its website (

“This information has been gathered from local Congressional delegates, Governor Ducey’s office, the Small Business Association, Small Business Development Center and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” said Villeneuve. “The information includes where and how to access needed funding for our business community and resources for the employees of our business community.

“As a part of the resource page we also have a comprehensive list of businesses that are open for curbside, the phone number and a link to their website. We are listing all businesses, not just Chamber members. Even though we are a membership-based organization it is important that we offer as much help as we can to our entire community. We are truly, all in this together. We have also invited the community to share in webinars and conference calls so that they have an opportunity to hear directly from the people mentioned before.”

Villeneuve says that additional relief funds have become available for EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) and PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans for the business community, and that the Arizona Chamber Executives, which she is currently board chair of, approached the Governor for one-time funds to be included in the state budget to be delivered directly to Chambers across the state for things like low-cost and no-cost grants.

“I can assure you that every Chamber Executive within the state are lobbying every single day to state and federal officials for increased funding.”

Beyond the support that the Chamber is providing to community businesses, Villeneuve says that the community as a whole can help support the local businesses that it relies upon.

“Continue supporting the businesses that are open for curbside pickup, buying gift cards from all businesses (not just restaurants) that can be used later. When more businesses can re-open, the ones that rely on tips, consider tipping a little more than usual. This will mean a lot to these workers. Continue to support the food bank with donations of food, money or volunteer hours. They need your support now more than ever. Don’t forget our other nonprofits with donations of time and money. Their donor bases are significantly impacted also.

“Finally, be kind to one another. We are all in this together. Kindness will go a long way with reassuring people that everything will be OK.” |CST

Thunderbird Artists Gallery Opens in Carefree

Glass and metal chandelier by Carefree artist David Bennett.

After 37 years of producing award-winning, juried fine art and wine festivals, Thunderbird Artists is expanding to open its first fine

art gallery, Thunderbird Artists Gallery, in Carefree Thursday, Dec. 6. The new gallery, located at 99 Easy Street, Suite 235, will showcase and sell the works of renowned artists, including David BennettGuilloume, Jacinthe Dugal-Lacroix, Sandy and Dave Daniel, Valentine, Dan Hale and others.

“We’ve been partnering with the Town of Carefree and the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce on our Carefree festivals for 26 years. It only makes sense that we would consider Carefree as our home base for an art gallery,” said Thunderbird Artists president Denise Colter.

A special ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at noon Dec, 6 with key Town and Chamber officials present. Guests to gallery will also enjoy refreshments throughout the afternoon.

One of the highlights of the new gallery will be a stunning, LED-illuminated, glass and metal chandelier that depicts figures in motion. The captivating piece was created by glass artist David Bennett, of Carefree.

Bennett spent 25 years working as a trial lawyer before finding his passion for sculpting glass. A native of Oregon, he was vacationing in Florida celebrating his 50th birthday when he met a glass blower who inspired him to learn more. Within two weeks, he was making paperweights and within the next year, he began studying with Robert Carlson and Petr Novotny at the Pilchuck Glass School.

Bennett is best known for his metal and glass animal and human figures in motion. Each piece includes 10 or more glass and metal pieces welded together. Bennett uses a proprietary method that protects the glass during the welding process.

While artisans have been blowing glass into metal forms for 2,000 years, Bennett said he and others are pushing the technique.

“We can make complex forms in glass and bronze that we could not do in either medium alone. As we’ve stretched the technical processes of blowing glass into metal, I’ve had more and more artistic freedom. Our figures can be lighter and wilder in their motions, and we’ve become able to manipulate the glass around its armatures in increasingly playful ways,” Bennett said, adding that the LED lights inside his glass sculptures often glow like embers in a fireplace, resulting in a warm, comforting feeling.

Located near the intersection of Ho Hum and East Streets in downtown Carefree, Thunderbird Artists Gallery will be open from 10am–5pm, Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, call 480.688.4960 or visit


Join Your Neighbors For Food, Music & Fun

The Town of Carefree, in the spirit of friendship and celebration, will hold its inaugural Community Block Party Saturday, April 7, from 3pm to 7pm. The Block Party will take place in Downtown Carefree along Easy Street and the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion.

Carefree residents, Foothills neighbors, businesses and nonprofits of the Town are all invited to join in on the food, music, activities and fun for all ages. Entrance is free. The cost for a meal ticket is $6 and includes a hamburger, hotdog, chili, various side dishes and one non-alcoholic drink. There will be other items for purchase such as ice cream.

A highlight of the day will be the Town’s first official hot dog eating competition, which is scheduled for 4pm and will feature Nathan’s Famous hot dogs.

“Carefree isn’t a stranger to food eating contests even though this is our first hot dog competition. For the past three years, our pumpkin pie eating contests are heavily attended at the Enchanted Pumpkin Garden Festival. Most people think they can eat a lot but when it comes down to doing it, most eager eaters get sick or withdraw,” shares Director of Marketing, Gina Kaegi. “We thank Nathan’s for their generous hot dog donation that will be featured in the event and look forward to crowning our first Carefree top dog winner with an official trophy and the notoriety that comes with it.”

In addition to the hot dog eating contest, guests can enjoy a dunk tank, Corn Hole Tournament, a beer and wine garden, plus the grilling of hamburgers and hotdogs. The Kiwanis Splash Pad will also be open along with other activities such as free face painting, a music DJ, Zumba, karate, mini putt golf, kid’s lemonade stand by the Desert Foothills YMCA, raffle prizes/baskets and more.

“This will be a good time to reminisce with friends, meet new neighbors and enjoy our downtown business district. We hope this becomes an annual tradition,” said Les Peterson, mayor of Carefree.

Sponsors of the event include 4CMedical Group, Edward Jones, Tyrol Title, Liberty Utilities, Ted Phillip Denton Contemporary Art and Happy Fitness with Patricia. Participating local restaurants include Corrado’s Italiana Cucina, Carefree Coffee Roastery, The Meat Market, Black Mountain Coffee Shop and Café and Venues Café. Nonprofits and partners also benefiting include Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce, Carefree Water Company, Desert Foothills Foodbank, Desert Foothills YMCA and Foothills Caring Corps.

RSVP’s are suggested; send an email to Local businesses that want to attend and/or volunteer, should send an email to or call 480.488.3686.

Chamber Holds Ribbon Cutting At Cave Creek Filiberto’s

The Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, January 18, at Filiberto’s Mexican Food, Cave Creek.

Founded in 1993, Filiberto’s has served the southwest with 24-hour, fast, authentic Mexican food, launching its first restaurant in Mesa. In only a few years, 10 other Valley locations opened.

Filiberto’s is located at 31414 North Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek. For additional information, call 480.488.3624 or visit

To learn more about the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce, call 480.488.3381 or visit

The Horny Toad Opens Cave Creek Christmas Company

The Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce was present Tuesday, December 12, to conduct a ribbon cutting ceremony for Cave Creek Christmas Company.

The Horny Toad opened Cave Creek Christmas Company at its location at 6738 East Cave Creek Road.

“Cave Creek Christmas Company is a magical Christmas store filled with unique decorations and gifts for family and friends,” says Nichole Morris, manager. “We have western ornaments, Southwest ornaments, traditional ornaments and some original pieces by local artists as well as jewelry, clothing and other fantastic merchandise.”

The store will be open daily from 11am to 9pm. Call 480.488.9542 for more information, or visit

Christmas In Carefree

Twenty-Three Days Of Seasonal Celebrations

This year, the Town of Carefree is building upon the decade-long tradition of the Carefree Christmas Festival—and expanding the holiday season, while also furthering community and business involvement.

Preserving the sense of community for locals while also showcasing all the color and beauty of Carefree to new visitors will be the focal point of the expanded Carefree Christmas Festival. The seasonal celebration is set to run from December 1 through 23, and will include highlights of an official tree lighting at the iconic Carefree Sundial, Carefree Snow Village (featuring real snow), an open-air Christmas Market, concerts, a comedy show, arts and crafts, gingerbread build-off, Luminaria Tribute in the Garden, and a new daytime community parade by the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce, just to name a few.

“The expanded footprint will allow for even more visitors to enjoy the festivities over an extended period,” said Carefree Mayor Les Peterson. “This will complement typical business hours and also provide a platform for nonprofits from all over the desert foothills area to engage with the community and showcase their cause.”

Evenings in the enchanting, four-acre Carefree Desert Gardens will be adorned with a professional holiday light display. Meanwhile, the daytime hours will be better positioned for the community parade December 9—while also allowing for more community involvement, reduced safety risks and enhanced exposure of Carefree’s pedestrian-friendly business district. There will also be special appearances by Beatles Tribute Band, Marmalade Skies, singer-songwriter Ryan Sims and comedian-actor Jill Kimmel, who is the younger sister of the late-night talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel will pay tribute to veterans and first responders by performing a comedy show just for them. Admission will be an unwrapped toy for the annual toy drive, which supports children of a family selected by the Foothills Food Bank. All toys will be delivered by the Carefree Rural Metro Fire Department. The Cave Creek Unified School District will also include performances from the Cactus Shadows High School Jazz Band as well as various elementary and middle school choirs in addition to the bell ringers and choir from the local Presbyterian church.

It all adds up to an enchanting expansion of the Carefree Christmas Festival—and the sign of even more exceptional things to come.

“We anticipate this event becoming one of the most-attended and revered holiday traditions in the North East Valley,” said Peterson. “We look forward to seeing it grow and evolve, year after year.”

For more information, visit

Click here for a Christmas in Carefree Calendar of Events and Information!


Cave Creek Restaurants & Area Businesses To Host July Fireworks Extravaganza

Celebrate Independence Day early at one of the Valley’s biggest parties. Cave Creek’s spectacular “3rd of July Fireworks Extravaganza” takes place after sunset Monday, July 3, and is being hosted by Harold’s Corral, 6895 East Cave Creek Road; Roadhouse, 6900 East Cave Creek Road; and The Buffalo Chip Saloon, 6811 East Cave Creek Road, in Cave Creek.

The festive, family-friendly celebration starts at 5pm with live music, children’s activities, food and drink specials at all three restaurants and great seating to view the fireworks, which begin after sunset behind Harold’s. A free shuttle service will be available to transport people around town from 6pm to midnight.

With the help of Rural Metro, the fireworks are safely shot off from a hill behind Harold’s, making the largest display in Cave Creek one of the most exhilarating shows in the Valley. Admission is free at all three restaurants with open seating, first come first serve. At Harold’s Corral, reserved seats outside are available for $15 for a two-top, $20 for a four-top and $35 for a 10-top. Live music will be a highlight, with the Crown Kings playing inside from 8:30pm–1am, and Hillbilly Deluxe energizing the crowd outside from 7–11:30pm. While admission is free at Harold’s, it does not include game zone activities or food. The outside bar and BBQ will be cash only, and ATMs will be onsite. Guests to Harold’s also can help the Foothills Food Bank by donating canned goods or money. Those making a donation that night will be entered to win a prize.

Carefree Resort & Conference Center and the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce are also supporting the event as sponsors. Patrons are encouraged to take a staycation and spend the weekend exploring the many shops, boutiques, art galleries and restaurants in the area. Carefree Resort & Conference Center is offering discounted room rates for the holiday weekend. For more details, call 480.488.5300 or visit​

For more information about the “3rd of July Fireworks Extravaganza,” contact Harold’s Corral at 480.488.1906 or; the Roadhouse at 480.488.3300 or; or The Buffalo Chip Saloon at 480.488.9118 or


Powering The Community

Chamber honors standout business leaders

Chamber Business of the Year: Tech 4 Life, Carefree

Working together as a community is vital for the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce to continue strengthening the local business environment with resources, networking, educational opportunities and advocacy. The power of the Chamber comes from the strength and support of its members, ambassadors and sponsors who work together toward a common goal – a thriving business community in Carefree and Cave Creek.

To recognize the standout businesses and ambassadors who make a difference in the community marketplace, the Chamber holds its annual Celebration of Excellence Awards. This year, the awards ceremony was held on March 30, at Harold’s Cave Creek Corral.

“It is such a pleasure to shine a spotlight on our esteemed business and ambassador of the year at the Celebration of Excellence Awards,” said Patty Villeneuve, executive director of the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce. “Each of the nominees is a shining example of giving back to the community that supports their business and helping the Chamber enhance the local business environment.”

Chamber Ambassador of the Year: Paul Cocuzza

This year’s “Business of the Year” is Tech 4 Life, Carefree, and the “Ambassador of the Year” is Paul Cocuzza.

Steve Woods founded Tech 4 Life in 2003 with the sole purpose of helping people with their computer support. Their mission is to provide country doctor service for technology.

Woods and his crew have been invaluable to the Chamber and many other non-profits in this community by donating untold hours and dollars in volunteer services to keep everyone’s technology running smoothly, always with a smile on his face.

Paul Cocuzza serves as the co-chair of the Chamber Ambassador Committee. He attends every Chamber event acting as a greeter, a host and emcee at Chamber events and functions. Paul champions the Chamber’s mission and vision and is actively involved with member recruitment and retention. He has volunteered countless hours with the Chamber and many other community organizations. Paul is also a top-performing sales and business development manager at UCP of Central Arizona.

Business of the Year Nominees for 2016:

  • Animal Health Services
  • Bartlett Lake
  • Brix Wines
  • Bryan’s Black Mountain BBQ
  • Cave Creek Candles & Gifts
  • Sonoran Arts League
  • Tech 4 Life
  • Watson’s Hat Shop

Ambassador of the Year Nominees for 2016:

  • Paul Cocuzza
  • Liz Castenada


Art & Wine Lover’s Paradise

Pictured: Wearable art by Shows Studios

Pictured: Wearable art by Shows Studios

In 1993, Thunderbird Artists and the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce partnered to produce the first juried fine art event the town had ever seen. Fast forward to today and the Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival has officially become a “signature event” for the Town of Carefree, which returns this month.

February 26-28, the festival will feature Shows Studios, a husband and wife team specializing in metalwork. Andrew and Turza Shows have been collaborating to create one-of-kind wearable pieces since 1978. Their combined talents merge to achieve a unique style of colorful inlay and carved-stone jewelry. The application of their jewelry designs involves cutting and carving stones of different images, fabricating the sterling silver or gold settings and arranging them in mosaic patterns.

In addition to the works by Shows Studios, this festival features more than 165 juried, world-class artists displaying over 5,000 original pieces of artwork in a variety of mediums. Wine tasting, as well as rum sampling, is also offered, with a vast array of wines to sample from around the world, while delicious food and delectable chocolates supply the final touches to the unparalleled ambience this festival holds.

Pam Barker and Bruce Rudolph together form Rockin’ Memories, the featured musicians for the event. This fine art event will take place in the heart of Downtown

Carefree, from 10am-5pm each day. Admission is $3 and parking is free. For more information, call 480.837.5637 or visit

Chamber Celebrates 50 Years

The Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce will reach a major milestone this month – 50 years of serving area businesses and residents.

“In order to look forward and chart a course for our future, I think we need to reflect on our past,” says Jennifer McGirr, National Bank of Arizona and Chamber board president. “And what an amazing 50 years of growth our community has undergone.”

In 1965, neither Carefree nor Cave Creek were incorporated as towns yet, but there was a lot of vision and a sense of community, says McGirr.

“Over the past 50 years the players have changed but I believe the voice has stayed the same,” she says. “How do we keep our serene corner of the world; while promoting tourism and growth for our local businesses? Reach out, shop local, and become involved! It will come back to you tenfold.”

The Chamber will celebrate its anniversary Thursday, March 26, at 8am, at Harold’s Corral. Guests will enjoy a breakfast buffet. The event will also honor the Business of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and other special guests. The cost is $18.50 per person. RSVP by March 20. For more information, call 480.488.3363 or visit

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