Carefree Desert Gardens Announces Annual Photo Contest

Photo: 2018 First Place winner, “Waterfall” by Doreen Florence

The Town of Carefree is again holding its annual Carefree Desert Gardens Photo Contest, with submissions being accepted beginning Monday, April 1 in several location throughout the Town. Entries vie for the popular “Peoples’ Choice Award” as voted by the public, which will be presented in the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion Friday, May 10, in conjunction with National Public Gardens Day.

“The Carefree Desert Gardens present a wide array of spectacular photographic opportunities,” shared Mayor Les Peterson. “Opportunities abound — from the exotic desert plants sprinkled throughout to magical sunrises and sunsets; from spectacular mountain vistas to the memorable people who stroll through the Gardens. Take your pick and let your imagination and photographic skills capture a masterpiece!”

Images must be taken within the Carefree Desert Gardens in the Carefree Town Center, with no time constraints on when the images were taken. Photographers are limited to a maximum of three image entries, and all entries must be received no later than Friday, April 26. Submissions will be reviewed by a judging panel, and 12 images will be selected to compete for the “Peoples’ Choice”, with voting taking place at the Desert Foothills Library from April 27–May 5.

Entries may be submitted at The UPS Store, 33689 North Tom Darlington Drive; CVS Photo Counter, 5400 East Carefree Highway.; and at Carefree Town Hall, 8 Sundial Circle, through Friday, April 26. Entry forms are available at each location or may be downloaded at Contest entry is free, and the winning entries will have their images used on future marketing and promotional materials by the Town. See contest entry form for complete rules and usage information.

For more information about the contest, call 480.488.3686 or visit

Carefree to Host Annual Veterans Day Honor

Veterans and residents of Carefree attend the 2017 event in the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion. Photo courtesy of the Town of Carefree

In commemoration of their service, the Town of Carefree is privileged to host its 10th annual Veterans Day Honor and Celebration Sunday, Nov. 11, from 3–5pm, in the Carefree Desert Gardens, 101 Easy Street, at the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion stage.

This year’s celebration will reflect on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice ending World War I and honor those veterans who have participated in this event in previous years.

Speakers will include retired Army Maj. Arden Rowley, a Korean War veteran and POW who will share his wartime experiences. This year’s event will also feature a mixture of patriotic and military music, with a special rendition of “God Bless America” by Todd Knowles and the Main Event Swing Band, marking the 100th anniversary of the patriotic classic, as well as “The Last Post” on the bugle, followed by “Taps” performed on dueling bugles.

Barbara Hatch, founder of Veterans Heritage Project (VHP), will be in attendance with VHP chapter students from Cactus Shadows High School and Sonoran Trails Middle School. There will be a student exhibit, with books for sale at the event.

For more information, visit or call 480.488.3686.

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.

Thunderbird Artists Bring Fine Art & Wine To Carefree

Jacinthe Dugal-Lacriox “Climb to Wisdom”; bronze

Spend the day strolling throughout juried fine artworks, courtesy of more than 150 artists from throughout the United States and abroad, displaying paintings in all mediums and subjects — the 24th Annual Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival runs November 3–5. In addition to a wide variety of paintings, drawings, charcoals and pastels, patrons will find impressive small, medium and life-sized sculptures, bronzes, sparkling hand-blown glass, wood, clay, metal, stone, gourds, one of a kind handcrafted jewelry, exceptional photography and much more.

Sculptor and painter Jacinthe Dugal-Lacriox is the event’s featured artist. Dugal-Lacriox has studied the arts for nearly 20 years and the human body and its movement is her principal source of inspiration. This master sculptor allowed herself to excel in the realistic representation of the human form before allowing herself to explore a more unique and vibrant way of sculpting.

In addition to the visual art, the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion will come alive with featured musician Teresa Joy and her violin. As the daughter of a world-renowned guitarist, Esteban, Teresa is sure to mesmerize audiences of all ages with her beautiful music.

Sheko Kirby, Ophiuchus Cuff

Alongside the art, guests can enjoy a vast array of domestic and imported wines available for tasting from local Arizona wineries, as well as distributors with wines from throughout the world. The featured winery, Schlossadler International, has been importing fine wines from family-owned vineyards from around the world since 1979. They have

a passion for wine and are excited to share their discoveries from around the world with wine enthusiasts. Their vast selection allows patrons to choose from dry to extremely fruity, red to sparkling, with wines from Argentina to New Zealand.

There is a fee of $10 for the wine tasting, which includes an engraved souvenir glass and six tasting tickets. Additional tickets may be purchased for $1.

The 24th Annual Carefree Fine Art & Wine Festival runs 10am–5pm daily, November 3–5 at 101 Easy Street in Downtown Carefree. Admission is $3 for adults and free for children under 18. For additional information, call 480.837.5637 or visit

Western Festival Returns With Three Days Of Family Fun

Arizona Wild West Festival will take place March 10-12 in Cave Creek. Admission is free to the public. This one-of-a-kind event will feature a number of signature, family-friendly activities, period vendors and other western entertainment throughout its three-day run.

“This is the second year for this unique western/music festival,” says Fran Booth, ABC, chair of the event. “Festival attendees will enjoy everything from gunfight performances and team treasure hunts to a professional stuntman rivalry, wild and crazy western entertainment and some of the best music in the territory. There has never been a festival like it in Arizona.”

Crowds will roar as the Buffalo Chip Saloon & Steakhouse hosts an evening of high intensity bull riding, known as Battle with the Saddle, Friday March 10. Bull riding takes place at 8pm, 9:30pm and 10:45pm.

Festivities kick off Saturday, March 11, with a patriotic salute to the country and its veterans. Presented by Buffalo Chip Saloon & Steakhouse  on the west lot of Frontier town at 11:30am.

Kickin’ ‘n Pickin’, held Saturday, March 11, features western, country western and southern rock bands battling for the top title as the best local western band around. The one-day music event, which will be judged, will conclude with a prize for the winning musical act. The Horny Toad will feature music for judging at 1pm; the Buffalo Chip’s band will play for judges at 2pm; the Silver Spur Saloon at 3pm; Rock the District’s Homestretch teen band will compete at the Buffalo Chip at 5pm; and Outlaw Annie’s at 7pm.

Guns of Anarchy will feature gunfighter performers from around the U.S. during a competition for first, second and third place cash prizes, the largest purse in the West. The competitions take place on the west lot of Frontier Town, 11am-3pm on March 11 and 11am-2pm, March 12.

Elegance in History, where contestants showcase their best in period-correct wardrobe, will be professionally judged on the west lot of Frontier Town, March 11 at 11am.

A screening of the Arizona full-length western film, Copper Wind, takes place at the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion on the evening of March 11; sponsored by Sanderson Lincoln. No-host cocktails prior; March 11 from 4:30-8pm.

Rock the District features teen bands playing their best country music for the crowds at Big Earl’s Greasy Eats. March 11 is a “band-off” between rockers and crooners; March 12 bands play for fun; the musicians play both days from 12-2pm.

Hooligan’s Treasure Hunt takes place March 11, 12-1:30pm. Teams of two to four receive a set of clues for this fun western treasure hunt from representatives on the west lot of Frontier Town then figure out where to find “treasures “at each stop; the first three winning groups receive a prize.

Bust the Dust is an action-packed event March 11, 12-2pm, at Outlaw Annie’s arena featuring some of Arizona and Hollywood’s best stuntmen compete on an arduous obstacle course filled with high falling, knuckle brawling challenges for prizes and bragging rights. Come between 8-11am for a cowboy breakfast and Bloody Mary bar.

On March 12, the activities kickoff with Church at the Chip at 9am at the nostalgic Buffalo Chip Saloon

Six Gun Entertainment, LLC in conjunction with, Booth Communications, Inc., Southwest Stunt Association, Southwest Industrial Rigging, Sanderson Lincoln and other community sponsors, produces Arizona Wild West Festival. For more information, call 602.400.3330 or visit

Carefree Welcomes Back Sand Sculpting – Adds Stone Exhibit

Rock balancing by Tim Anderson

Rock balancing by Tim Anderson

The Town of Carefree welcomes world renowned artist and sculptor, Ray Villafane, back to create sand art like no other within the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion, Carefree Desert Gardens starting March 4. Villafane ( for the first time has invited professional stone balancer Tim Anderson (, a Pennsylvania native, to join him the weekend of March 17-19 to transform the Gardens into an artistic stone playground. Visitors can watch demonstrations, participate and ask questions as the artists defy the laws of physics without the use of any adhesives other than gravity and stones provided by Mother Nature to create unusual artistic formations in the Desert Gardens pools and around the scenic landscape. The Thunderbird Artists ( will also be present in the downtown area for their Carefree Fine Art and Wine event that weekend (see page 48), $3 entrance fee for sand, stone and all the fine art you can consume.

Ray Villafane and Elephant Chessie Trunkston

Ray Villafane and Elephant “Chessie Trunkston”

The first life-size signature sculptor created by Villafane and Sue Beatrice in the Carefree Desert Gardens was completed in May of 2016 titled, “Elephant playing chess with a field mouse,” and consisting of 24 tons of sand sourced from the Salt River. The exhibit garnered world attention by the media who had never seen sand sculpting taken to that level. The silt’s fine texture, married with a tamping process and the right amount of water allows for Villafane to achieve greater detail with his sculpting. When finished, he sprayed a solution of water and glue on the entire sculpture to protect it from the elements allowing it to last upwards of six months for thousands of visitors to enjoy.

Villafane has been on the global scene for 10 years carving sand and says, “I love Carefree and am glad to be back again for a second year within the beautiful Desert Gardens. It’s a playground and inspiration and appreciate the Town allowing me to be a part of it.”

The exhibit will be on display through August. Admission is free and open to the public every day of the week, with the exception of March 17-19, when the Thunderbird artists will join Villafane, Anderson and 150 fine artists at the Carefree Fine Art and Wine event, when there is a $3 entrance fee. Carefree residents are free.

For more information, call 480.488.3686 or visit

Carefree Comes Alive With Spirit Of The Season

carefree-christmas-festivalchristmasfestivalLive music, choral and dance performances, real snow and snow slide, pictures with Santa, an electric light parade and fireworks, horse-drawn carriage rides, North Pole train rides, a huge gift and food market, a Nativity scene, pet parade and pet pictures with Santa…yep, the Ninth Annual Carefree Christmas Festival is coming to town!

This month, Carefree’s high Sonoran Desert once again comes alive with sugarplums, elves and Santa as the annual iconic celebration offers merriment, entertainment and free holiday fun for the entire family, including beloved pets.

The scenic destination is the charming Carefree Desert Gardens and Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion, which is converted into a winter wonderland and provides a stunning backdrop for a real-life Christmas village with winding paths showcasing thousands of illuminated exotic plants and cacti.

carefree-christmas-festival2There are plenty of new features to explore this year, including snow sculptures from world-renowned artist and master carver Ray Villafane. And children and adults alike will be delighted by the 40 tons of real snow, plenty of holiday shopping, tasty treats and so much more.

The Ninth Annual Carefree Christmas Festival will take place December 9-11 in Downtown Carefree.

For complete details, see our coverage here!

Art Comes Alive In Carefree Desert Gardens

rock sculptureThe Town of Carefree welcomed world-renowned artist and sculptor, Ray Villafane, to create art like no other (massive sand sculptures) within the Carefree Desert Gardens in April, and he will begin a larger display in the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion in May. Admission is free, and based upon the overwhelming success and attendance of the “Enchanted Pumpkin Garden” this past October, the Town of Carefree unanimously voted to have Villafane back for seasonal town events through 2016-17.

Villafane’s first sculpture was around 15-tons and created out of washed river silt. The silt is very fine and allows for Ray to achieve great detail with this sculpting. This will be smaller than most of his works as he has created larger-than-life sand sculptures for attractions in Russia, Italy, Puerto Rico and New York.

Villafane has been on the global scene for 10 years carving sand and says, “I love Carefree and its beautiful Desert Garden, it’s a playground and inspiration for me and appreciate the Town allowing me to be a part of it.”

Based in Arizona, Villafane is an internationally acclaimed American sculptor who has traveled throughout the globe fashioning exceptional figures and scenes out of pumpkins, sand and snow. Starting May 15, Ray will attempt a 20-ton sculpture that will be on display in the center of the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion through August.

Always looking for new artistic outlets, he has recently taken up rock balancing, which is also on display in Carefree. Villafane, along with a professional rock balancer, will be in the Gardens May 15-25 teaching visitors the art of rock balancing.

For more information on the Town of Carefree, visit For more photos of Villafane’s work, visit

Kiwanis Club To Serve Up “Stacks of Fun” At Annual Pancake Breakfast

The annual Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast helps raise funds for the Kiwanis Club of Carefree Benefit Foundation, Inc. It is also family favorite because of the gigantic pancakes, gourmet sausage, fresh OJ and coffee. With the help of Desert Foothills Key Club students from area high schools to help organize and staff the event, the Kiwanis expect to flip and serve at least 1,200 pancakes this year.

The Kiwanis Club of Carefree offers post-secondary scholarships, summer art programs, community science fairs and mentoring, special needs support, youth service organizations, and more, to help children develop their potential.

The Kiwanis Club of Carefree Pancake Breakfast takes place on Saturday, April 18, 7-11am, at Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 14 and under, available at the Kiwanis Marketplace on Cave Creek Road or at the event.

The Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion is located at 101 Easy Street in Downtown Carefree. For more information, call 480.488.8400 or visit

Enjoy The Carefree Experience

Premier 2015 Events Issue


The 2015 Premier Carefree Events pullout (beginning on page 27) is a guide to help one to step away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday and enjoy a “Carefree Experience.”

By Kathryn M. Miller ~ Carefree is known as “a place for gracious living in a desert forest of rare beauty,” and beginning this month, it is also the place to be for world-class food, art and entertainment for the whole family.

The vibrant Town of Carefree comes alive this month beginning with the Kiwanis Concert series presenting Beachfront Property at the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion January 10 – the series continues through the end of March. Next up is the ever-popular Thunderbird Artists Fine Art & Wine Festival, taking place in the Carefree Town Center January 16-18. The annual event allows guests to travel the world over and brings together a spectacular gathering of artists and first-class wines and delicacies. January 23-25 brings Magic Bird’s Annual Indian Art & Cultural Festival.

February and March will bring other premier events, including the annual Magic Bird Chocolate & Arts Festival, another Thunderbird Artists Fine Art & Wine Festival and the Sonoran Arts League Festival of the Arts; followed by the annual Magic Bird Carefree Days Festival in April.

Throughout the year, visitors and residents alike will enjoy concerts hosted by the Town of Carefree, educational events at Paradise Valley Community College at Black Mountain, community events at the Desert Foothills Family YMCA, desert gardening seminars, and, of course, Carefree’s assortment of unique shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and outdoor cafés. The year of events ends spectacularly in December with the annual Carefree Christmas Festival.

For additional information on Carefree, visit or |CST

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