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History & Culture

“We can, at any rate, avoid giving children cut-and-dried opinions upon the course of history while they are yet young. What they want is graphic details concerning events and persons upon which the imagination goes to work.” ~Charlotte Mason

American Heritage Festival (Queen Creek)
Presented each November by We Make History and held at Schnepf Farms of Queen Creek, Arizona, the American Heritage Festival is the largest multi-era living history event to take place in The Southwest. Included are battle reenactments, portrayals of famous men and women, musicians, craftsmen, colonists, pioneers, mountain men, and more ranging from Colonial times and the American Revolution, through Pioneer days, the Civil War, the Old West and on through WW II and Vietnam. A tribute to veterans and an 18th century style church service in the fields based on the “Great Awakening” are just two of the many special features. Men, women and children are portrayed in diverse roles with something of interest to all. Historic merchants offer a unique and fascinating shopping experience. Don’t miss out on this unique, creative, interactive and family friendly educational opportunity for all ages.

Arizona Archaeology Month Events (statewide)
Numerous prehistoric and historic site tours, exhibits, hikes, open houses, lectures, demonstrations, and special activities take place throughout the state during the month of March. A free listing of Arizona Archaeology Month events as well as brochures on archaeological sites in the state of Arizona-complete with descriptions, hours of operation, directions, and a map-can be obtained by calling the Arizona State Parks State Historic Preservation Office at 602-542-4174, or by e-mail: shpo@pr.state.az.us. Archaeology Month information as well as an archaeological site etiquette guide can also be found on their website at http://azstateparks.com/SHPO/index.html.

Arizona Cowboy Shooters Association
The ACSA is a club that promotes 1890 era Cowboy Action Shooting at its finest. This family-oriented sport is based on fellowship and developing a common bond, using vintage weapons and historic costumes centered around the cowboy era. Members get together at monthly matches to fulfill their cowboy fantasies by dressing up in authentic, period correct cowboy attire, and using replica weapons like those that tamed the old west, while engaging in a friendly shooting competition, staged in a unique, characterized, “Old West” style. Competitors shoot several different shooting sequences with pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Each participant is required to adopt a shooting alias appropriate to a character or profession of the late 19th century, or a Hollywood western star, and develop a costume accordingly. The cowboy shooters look forward to socializing with other cowboys and cowgirls that share the same interest while passing on shooting tips or just swapping stories. ACSA presents an annual “Battle of Picacho Pass” as a theme for a monthly match, designed to represent some of the major events leading up to and including the final battle at Picacho Peak. Shooters are encouraged to dress in Civil War uniforms or civilian clothing of the period, and join in the spirit of this historic Arizona event. A synopsis of the Union and Confederate maneuvers in Arizona during the Civil War will be provided. Visit www.acsainc.com for details.

Arizona Historical Society (several locations)
The Arizona Historical Society (AHS) is Arizona’s oldest cultural organization, founded by the territorial legislature on November 7, 1864, to preserve Arizona’s history for the present and future. Their mission is “to collect, preserve, interpret and disseminate the history of Arizona, the West, and Northern Mexico as it pertains to Arizona.” The Arizona Historical Society has the world’s largest collection of Arizona history artifacts, documents, and photographs. The four AHS museums located in Flagstaff, Yuma, Tempe and Tucson, are state-run entities with non-profit 501(c)(3) status as educational institutions. During the school year, staff and volunteers present a variety of demonstrations, tours, workshops, and presentations. Visit the education page of their website for details on their educational programs.

Arizona Renaissance Festival (Apache Junction)
Saturdays, Sundays and President’s Day Monday
February – March, 10:00 AM until 6:00 PM
The Arizona Renaissance Faire, with its thirty-acre theatrical European market village, offers a unique opportunity to bring an important era in history to life. It is held on weekends only, except for student days when it is open especially for school groups. Student Days were created to highlight the educational aspects of the Renaissance time period. Language, mannerisms, customs, comedia theatre, jousting tournaments, artist and craft demonstrations, and music are just some of the learning opportunities that await your students at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. The Festival provides students with a chance to do more than just read about history…they can experience it! To receive more information or to order tickets, call (520) 463-2600 or visit their website at www.royalfaires.com.

Arizona Scottish Highland Games and Festival
Past year’s events have featured a reenactment of the famous 1745 battle of Culloden along with Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald, the heroine of Scottish history who hid the Bonnie Prince from the English. Usually held in February at Mesa Community College. Visit www.arizonascots.com and click on “Games” for more information about the festival.

Arizona State Capitol (Phoenix)
The Museum Division operates the Arizona Capitol Museum in the renovated 1901 Capitol building. The Museum provides tours, exhibits, education programs, and a museum store. It participates in commemoration of special events such as Statehood Day. Open 8-5 Monday – Friday; free admission.

Deer Valley Rock Art Center (Phoenix)
Managed by Arizona State University’s Department of Anthropology, the Deer Valley Rock Art Center is a 47-acre nature preserve that contains more than 1,500 petroglyphs on more than 500 boulders throughout the Hedgpeth Hills, a sacred Indian site. The visitor center designed by famed Southwest architect Will Bruder contains interpretive displays and a gift shop. The site opened to the public in 1994 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Guided tours along the quarter-mile trail are available for schools and groups or visitors may stroll along on their own.

Estrella Wars Medieval Recreation Event (Florence)
Children/Youth Activities, nametaken@citlink.net
School Tours Coordinator, cbernheim@yahoo.com
Estrella Wars are held every February at Canyon Moon Ranch in Florence, AZ. This annual event is sponsored by The Society for Creative Anachronism, www.sca.org, an international organization dedicated to researching and recreating pre-17th-century European history. Approximately 5000 reenactors from across the U.S. and around the world camp out there for a week, many in period camps – that is, their tents and furnishings are very much like what people would have used in the Middle Ages. There are a variety of demonstrations, and of course recreational combat. This is the second largest Medieval event in the country. Estrella War is open to all who share in historical interests as a learning opportunity. It is not a commercial Renaissance Faire, so shopping is not the focal point of this event. School Tours give a simple introduction to life in the Middle Ages, and direct a free one-hour tour through some of the Period Encampment and Demonstration areas, displaying a sampling of Medieval life as closely as we can document. For more details and directions, please visit www.estrellawar.org.

Fort Verde State Historic Park (Camp Verde)
Fort Verde is the best preserved example of an Indian Wars period fort in Arizona. Spanning from 1865 through 1890 Camp Lincoln, Camp Verde and finally Fort Verde were home to officers, doctors, families, enlisted men, and scouts. Fort Verde was the primary base for General George Crook’s U.S. Army scouts and soldiers. Today it is a state park located in the town of Camp Verde which, in addition to regular history related activities, holds larger reenactment events in May and October. Find out more at http://azstateparks.com/Parks/FOVE/index.html.

Heritage Square (Phoenix)
A reminder of Phoenix’s Victorian past, Rosson House is the cornerstone of a city block of museums, gift shops and restaurants housed in buildings that date from the late 1800s and represent the only remaining group of residential structures from the original town site of Phoenix.

Japanese Tea House, Garden & Pottery Studio (Phoenix)
(Margaret T. Hance Park/Central & Culver) The Japanese Friendship Garden – Ro Ho En features more than 1,500 tons of handpicked rock, more than 50 varieties of plants, flowing streams, a 12-foot waterfall and a Koi pond. Groups of 30 are split into 3 groups and rotate through 3 activities: outdoor education on Japanese culture or visit a working pottery studio were tea bowls are made, attend a traditional tea ceremony, tour a traditional Japanese tea house and traditional Japanese garden. The staff dresses traditionally as well. Tea ceremonies are only once per month, last year on Mondays. If no tea ceremony is scheduled you simply tour the tea house and have the ceremony explained to you. (602)534-2406 info. (602) 262-6412 reservation line; open October-May.

The Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder
Sharon Cullers, 623-937-1256 (Call for times and reservations)
An activity-oriented one-day seminar for children ages 6-16, held at Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum (Pioneer Rd. & I-17). Learn about Laura Ingalls Wilder in the one room schoolhouse, dance the Virginia Reel, play pioneer games, make rope, candles, butter, and more.

Mystery Castle (Phoenix)
800 E. Mineral Road, Phoenix, 602-268-1581. Adjacent to South Mountain, Mystery Castle is one of the most unusual homes in Phoenix. It is an historic native stone castle built in the 1940’s by a father for his daughter. The 8,000-square-foot structure features 18 rooms, 13 fireplaces, parapets, many charming nooks and crannies, and is furnished with Southwestern antiques. Tours are conducted from October – June.

Phoenix Points of Pride (citywide)
The Phoenix Pride Commission is proud to present the 30 favorite Points of Pride in Phoenix selected by more than 40,000 Valley residents. The Points of Pride locations are places you’d be proud to tell your friends and visitors not to miss when they’re in town. Or you may want to take your family on an outing to enjoy Phoenix’s most popular landmarks. The Points of Pride consist of parks, cultural facilities, historic residences and mountain peaks. All these unique locations are found within Phoenix city limits and contribute to the quality of life in the Valley.

Picacho Peak State Park (Tucson)
Picacho Peak State Park north of Tucson is the site of the “Westernmost Battle of The Civil War.” The largest Civil War miltary re-enactment in the Southwest takes place there every year. The Civil War battle took place near Picacho Peak on April 15, 1862, when an advance detachment of Union forces from California attacked a Confederate scouting party. The battle lasted for 1-1/2 hours, and three Union soldiers were killed. Every March, “The Civil War in the Southwest” comes alive again as over two hundred reenactors converge on Picacho Peak on foot and horseback. Visitors enjoy viewing exciting mock battles that took place in Arizona and New Mexico during the Civil War. Also on display at the March reenactment are recreated military camps and living history demonstrations.

Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum (Phoenix)
Pioneer Arizona at 3901 W. Pioneer Road just south of Anthem is a 90-acre living history museum of the history and lifestyle of territorial Arizona. They offer self-guided tours and interpreters in period costumes. They also regularly host special historical events such as reenactments. The old 1800’s pioneer village, with original buildings and historically accurate reproductions, is recognized as an educational “Classroom Without Walls” where children learn to live and appreciate Arizona’s Territorial Days (1880’s – 1912). At Pioneer Village you can visit a working blacksmith shop, sheriff’s office and jail, one room schoolhouse, the historic Opera House, look through a rifle port in an actual cabin that survived Arizona’s bloodiest range war, browse through an 1890’s dress shop, a complete ranch complex, and much more! While you’re there, keep your eyes open for cowboys, gunslingers, and Victorian ladies. The town hosts special events and festivals throughout the year and can arrange customized group tours. Take an online tour of the grounds and check their calendar of events at www.pioneer-arizona.com or call 623-465-1052 for more information.

Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park (Phoenix)
The park includes a 1,500-year-old Hohokam culture ruin along an interpretive trail as well as an onsite museum with three exhibit galleries and a theater featuring exhibits of the Hohokam and other cultures of the Southwest. The site also includes some of the last remaining intact Hohokam irrigation canals. Explore these prehistoric Hohokam Indian ruins, and let your children discover the excitement of archaeology in hands-on exhibits.

Rosson House Museum (Phoenix)
The Rosson House Museum is a beautifully restored 1895 historic home in downtown Phoenix that is open for public tours, including a fun and informative tour featuring “Mrs. Rosson & friends” (presented by Heritage Square’s “Step Back in Time” Players) inside the Rosson home just as it would have been back in 1895. Visit the Rosson House online at www.rossonhousemuseum.org.

Sharlot Hall Museum (Prescott)
The Sharlot Hall Museum, the largest museum in central Arizona, is dedicated to providing educational adventures in human and natural history. Founded by historian and poet Sharlot M. Hall in 1928, the Museum today explores the rich diversity of regional heritage through festivals, living history events, outdoor theater performances, changing exhibits, publications and research services. Check their detailed calendar of events at www.sharlot.org for upcoming events, which in the past have included living history demonstrations including a frontier party, traditional dancing, and various aspects of pioneer living.

St. Mary’s Basilica (Phoenix)
Founded in 1881, St. Mary’s is the oldest Catholic church in Phoenix and contains Arizona’s largest collection of historic stained glass windows. Tours are available on each Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. and by appointment.

Taliesin West (Scottsdale)
Taliesin West was designed and built by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and served as his home, studio, and architectural school campus. Today the 600-acre complex serves as headquarters for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, preserves the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, and is the winter campus for the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. Taliesin West offers a broad range of tours to meet individual interests. (General tours, behind-the-scenes tours, K-12 tours, key buildings and architectural elements, Taliesin West history, etc.) All tours are led by knowledgeable guides, and all visitors must be accompanied by a guide.

Tombstone and the OK Corral (Tombstone)
Tombstone, “the town too tough to die,” is the most famous of Arizona mining camps. It is world-renowned for the OK Corral shootout in 1881. When visitors take a stroll through the OK Corral they have the opportunity to see Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Virgil and Morgan Earp fight the McLaurys and Clantons in daily reenactments at 2:00 pm. For more information, visit their website.

We Make History
“We Make History” offers authentic historic dance events throughout the State of Arizona. Each “Grand Ball” is set during a certain historic period such as Colonial, Regency, or Civil War/Victorian. Multi-era events and historical reenactments are occasionally held as well. Their American Heritage Weekend on November 15th & 16th, 2003 will be unlike anything ever created in this part of the country. It will be a grand scale presentation of civilian and military aspects of 18th and 19th century American life as portrayed by a large and experienced cast of historical interpreters being invited from Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and beyond. Included will be battle reenactments, first-person portrayals of famous men and women, musicians representing various time periods, craftsmen, colonists, pioneers, mountain men and more ranging from the founding of our country in the American Revolution, through the Lewis & Clark expedition, the War of 1812, the antebellum and Civil War eras, the Victorian period and on to the Spanish American War of 1898. Colonial, Regency and Victorian fashions and culture will all be well represented at this event which will be held on a very pleasant 40 acre tree-lined parcel of Queen Creek, a suburban/rural community in the southeastern part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. The “We Make History” website is filled with fascinating details and facts from several different eras, as well as beautiful photographs and artwork.

Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza (Phoenix)
The plaza covers two square blocks of the State Capitol grounds and is the site of 23 memorials commemorating the achievements of Governor Bolin and other prominent Arizonans. On the eastern tip of the plaza rests the anchor of the USS Arizona, sunk during the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in 1941, as a memorial to the men who died aboard the battleship.

World Geography Study
Local activities and events that would make fun family field trips to supplement a study of each country.

Do you know of another good field trip destination not listed here?


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