Magical Halloween Event Returns To Carefree Gardens

pumpkinHalloween spirit invades Carefree for its second year in the form of whimsical pumpkin carvings from master sculptor Ray Villafane ( The Enchanted Pumpkin Garden will be open to the public and woven throughout the four-acre Carefree Desert Gardens. This free, one-of-a-kind fall festival celebrates incredible artistry and enchantment of the Halloween season for all ages and runs October 17-31, 10am-10pm, 101 Easy Street, Carefree.

New in 2016 will be the unveiling of Ray’s life size scarecrows, which are hand crafted mostly of organic materials. Visitors are invited back to stroll and experience the many new mischievous pumpkin characters, artfully imagined and frolicking in their magical garden home. In addition to the playful pumpkins, Ray and his team will carve 10 3D pumpkin faces preserved and displayed in tanks that resemble Saguaro cacti, sculpted and immersed in a pickling solution for preservation and lit by LED lighting. Ray will again, carve multiple “colossal” 400 pound pumpkins. Visitors are welcome to ask questions while kids can carve with him up-close and personal.

Other special weekend highlights include family carving nights with Ray Villafane and the Desert Foothills YMCA on October 26 and 27, reservations recommended. New this year, Jelly Belly will invite visitors to take the “Bean Boozled Challenge” and get their picture taken with the Jelly Belly pumpkins. Easy Street Galleria will offer kids crafts along with face painting by a local artist. Adopt a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, register for the pumpkin pie eating competition and enjoy a local craft beer garden along with culinary food trucks and autumnal treats. On Halloween, costumes are encouraged and kids are welcome to trick or treat at various stations throughout the gardens.

For more information, visit  or, or call 480.488.3686.

Make It A Carefree Weekend At Carefree Days Festival


Desert Cactus Kickers

Residents are invited to “make it a carefree” weekend as Magic Bird Festivals hosts its 3rd Annual Carefree Days. The three-day arts and entertainment event takes place from 10am-5pm, Friday, April 8, through Sunday, April 10, in the Carefree Desert Gardens, 101 Easy Street, in Downtown Carefree.


The free, outdoor festival ushers in the spring season with more than 75 prestigious arts and craft exhibitors. Their Southwest inspired artistry and handcrafted designs are woven throughout the town’s botanical gardens with Carefree’s world-famous sundial at its center.

Dakota Kid

Dakota Kid

Attendees are invited to browse one-of-a-kind fine art designs while taking in live music and entertainment all weekend long. Local entertainer, Dakota Kid, will perform popular country western and classic rock songs throughout the weekend in the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion. Additional entertainment includes rockette-style dance acts from the Desert Cactus Kickers.

Magic Bird’s festive food court also offers popular food throughout the weekend. Local food concessions are conveniently located next to the art booths. Food court vendors include Barlow’s Fair Foods Concession,

Nakia’s Greek Food Kitchen, Grandma’s Navajo Frybread and Doughlicious Brick Oven Pizza.

Attendees will appreciate Carefree Days extraordinary outdoor setting and intimate atmosphere. Magic Bird Festivals owner and founder, Roberta Toombs-Rechlin, wanted to fully embrace Carefree’s history and natural wonders within each of her shows,

“Though Carefree is a small town, it is alive with Southwest spirit. There is nothing else quite like it in Arizona.”

For more information, call 480.488.2014 or visit

Carefree Desert Gardens Seminar: Living With Urban Wildlife

Mother Bobcat on wall_JulianUBA4898_0029 300resLiving in Arizona we see many species of wildlife – small to large, flying to four-legged. As natural habitats and native food sources shrink, we see “urban wildlife” venturing into our neighborhoods and our yards. Inviting wildlife into our living space can be enjoyable to observe. Sometimes it can create problems.

On February 20, Carefree Desert Gardens welcomes Darren Julian, Urban Wildlife Specialist for Arizona Game and Fish Department, Region 6. With a B.S. degree in Wildlife Conservation Biology from ASU, Julian has been with the department for 15 years. He is frequently called upon to resolve wildlife conflicts statewide.

Learn how to coexist with Arizona’s wildlife in our urban areas. Find out how to prevent problems with wildlife before they occur, and how to safely invite them into our yards and ways to discourage them if you choose.

The program, usually including a plant raffle, will begin at 9:30am and run approximately until 12pm in the Town Council Chambers located in the U.S. Post Office Building, 100 Easy Street, Carefree. A $5 (or more) donation is appreciated to support these programs. For information call 480.488.3686. Come early as seating is limited.

It’s Here!

January 2016 CST.inddCheck out the 2016 Carefree Special Events Edition on page 25.

Meet The Artist Behind Enchanted Pumpkin Garden


Photo courtesy of Villafane Studios

Carefree’s Enchanted Pumpkin Garden, featuring pumpkin sculptures from world-renowned artist Ray Villafane, will inhabit Carefree Desert Gardens October 16-31, 8am-9pm.

Admission is free.

There will be opportunities to see Villafane, up-close, as he carves whimsical characters and answers questions of how he creates such masterpieces. Dates and times include:

  • Friday, October 16, 10am-6pm (Grand Opening Day)
  • Saturday, October 17, 10am-6pm
  • Sunday, October 18, 10am-6pm
  • Saturday, October 31, 10am-6pm (Halloween)

Appearances by artist and sculptor, Paolo Acuna, Villafane Studios:

  • Saturday, October 24, 10am-6pm
  • Sunday, October 25, 10am-6pm

Additional scheduled events will include Pet Costume Parade, Picasso Pumpkin Kids, Family Carving Nights Desert Foothills Family YMCA fundraiser (October 17 and 28) photo opportunities with “King of Carefree” pumpkin and much more. Get full details on Enchanted Pumpkin Garden events

Indulge The Senses With Chocolate & Art

Savor the romance of Valentine’s Day weekend at the Fourth Annual Carefree Festival of Fine Chocolate and Fine Art. The four-day festival runs February 12-15, at 101 Easy Street, in the Carefree Desert Gardens.

This free event begins on Thursday from 12-5pm and continues Friday through Sunday, 10am-5pm. Attendees will feast their eyes on over 100 exhibitors of fine art, chocolate and handmade confections. Live music and entertainment performances are additional treats throughout the four-day event.

The festival showcases artwork from local and regional artisans, and goodies that focus on the freshest and finest ingredients. The San Francisco Chocolate Factory is this year’s featured chocolatier. Known for its small, quality batches, the company will display its signature chocolate candies, fresh-dipped fruits, and sauces across sixty linear feet of booth space. Other vendors include It’s a Devine Bakery specializing in European style fresh-baked pastries and breads, and Mr. Fudge’s all natural, Mackinac Island fudge. In addition, Jason Wasser of Xocolatl Confections will exhibit his unique, handmade chocolate designs.

The festival is presented by Magic Bird Festivals. For more information call 480.488.2014 or visit

Mark Your Calendar: Magic Bird Is In The Wings

MagicBirdFestivalThe long, hot summer is winding down and residents can soon look forward to not only cooler temps, but the seasonal line-up of Magic Bird Festivals.

The annual art and entertainment events, set against the backdrop of Black Mountain and woven throughout a four-acre Carefree Desert Gardens, include the Carefree Fine Art of the Southwest Festival, the Carefree Christmas Festival and Gift Market, the Carefree Indian Market and Cultural Festival, the Carefree Festival of Fine Chocolate and Fine Art and Carefree Days.

Live music and dance performances set the stage for each event on the site’s newly expanded Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion. Hand-selected local, regional and national fine artists, and crafts exhibitors, along with a variety of food vendors, are featured throughout the scenic botanical gardens. The Christmas Gift Market combines an expanded variety of holiday gift and specialty exhibitors.

For information, call 480.488.2014 or visit

Art in the Garden

“George" by artist Chela Rose Mischke (Cactus Shadows High School, Class of 1997).

“George” by artist Chela Rose Mischke (Cactus Shadows High School, Class of 1997).

Art in the Garden will take place Saturday, April 5 from 8-11am in Carefree Desert Gardens in the Town Center, 101 Easy Street in Carefree. The event will showcase of all the wonderful art that arts nonprofits and community service organizations bring to local schools.

“This will be a great time for families!” says Elaine Adrian, Education and Community Services special projects, the coordinator of Art in the Garden. “You can enjoy the Carefree Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast, be entertained by the Cactus Shadows Jazz Ensemble, shop at the Sonoran Arts League Art Stuff Sale, take part in activities for the kids and enjoy a beautiful spring morning at Art in the Garden.”

The event will include art activities for young children and storytelling by Cave Creek Unified School District administrators and principals, and facility, staff and alumni will be exhibiting their artwork and there will be fine art available for sale.

Nonprofit organizations such as Arizona Musicfest, Sonoran Arts League, Scully Learning Center and Desert Foothills Library will have displays of the various school programs they support.

Carefree Fine Chocolate, Fine Art Festival

Indulge on Valentine’s weekend

Courtesy San Francisco Chocolate Factory

Courtesy San Francisco Chocolate Factory

The third annual Carefree Festival of Fine Chocolate and Fine Art will be presented February 13-16 in Downtown Carefree.

Up to 100 exhibitors of fine art, chocolate and other confections are expected, with live entertainment throughout the weekend, including world-champion hoop dancer Brian Hammill. The four-day festival begins on the 13th, running from 12-5pm, and continues Friday through Sunday from 10am-5pm. The festival takes place at 101 Easy Street, at the Carefree Desert Gardens and Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion. The event is free event for the whole family.

This year’s featured chocolatier is the San Francisco Chocolate Factory, which is known for creating small batches with only the finest ingredients. Other confectioners include W-Xocolati Fine Chocolates and It’s a Devine Bakery. Over 10,000 visitors are expected to attend. The festival is presented on by Magic Bird Festivals. For information and event schedules, visit

Carefree Christmas Festival

Electric Light Parade And Real Snow In The Desert

CarefreeFestivalThe Sixth Annual Carefree Christmas Festival, one of the largest annual events in Carefree, is just around the corner, with more than 35,000 people expected to attend the event. Mark your calendars for December 13-15, when winter family fun descends upon Carefree. The holiday event provides three-days and two-nights of free holiday festivities at the Carefree Desert Gardens and Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion, located at 101 Easy Street.

“The festival is for the child in all of us, and it’s become a Christmas tradition for many,” says event director and founder Jo Gemmill. “The weekend celebrates the beauty and tradition of Christmastime. This year we’ve raised the bar and are extremely honored to welcome the families of the Yarnell 19 firefighters.”

The signature Electric Light Parade will take place at 6pm on Saturday, December 14, along Easy Street. A fireworks display with a special commemorative salute, in cooperation with the 100 Club, will take place to honor the fallen Yarnell 19 firefighters, at 8pm, immediately following the parade.

Other activities include a Kid’s Zone with 35 tons of real snow, carriage rides, caroling, dance and singing performances, a Nativity display, a pet parade and pet adoptions and other activities for the entire family. An outdoor shopping and gift mart with more than 100 exhibitors and a holiday food court will take place throughout the weekend. This year’s expanded event includes a live holiday jazz concert by the Kelso Brothers Quintet, dance performances by Adage Dance Company and the 10-piece Affinity Dance Band, plus the Medley of Theatre Classics presented by The Desert Foothills Theatre. For more information, visit or call 480.488.3381.

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