Where cosmopolitan meets the Old West, Old Tucson's picture-perfect desert landscape and abundance of attractions make it a one-of-a-kind Arizona destination. Visitors seeking natural beauty and adventure will find it in spades. Locations such as Sabino Canyon and Colossal Cave Mountain Park are off-the-beaten-path and offer unique examples of the stunning desert terrain. From families to solo adventurers, everyone will find can’t-miss attractions in The Old Pueblo. Make sure to carve out some time to visit the Arizona State Museum, Pima Air & Space Museum, and Tucson Museum of Art.
The Spirit of the West Fest has been the premier Old West-themed celebration in Tucson for the last eight years, and it will take place March 16-18 at Old Tucson. Attendees will encounter a showcase of Old Tucson’s full spectrum of Western-themed entertainment. All ages will love the Live Shows which entertain the masses with Wild West-themed gunfights (recreations), stunt shows, and more. The Mariachi Bellas Musical will perform live during two days of the event, and the Saloon Musicals will dazzle with vibrant dance and musical numbers. Living history shows also play a significant role at Old Tucson. Visitors can learn about the life of a cowboy (The American Cowboy), law enforcement in the Old West (Sheriffs of the Old West), and saloons (The Raucous Saloons). Special guest Guy Harper will be on-hand, demonstrating guns from the era including a Gatling gun show. Johnny Hotshot will also make a special appearance showcasing his unique set of roping, trick shooting, and whip cracking skills. Before you leave, take a full tour of Old Tucson. The facility was the filming location of legendary films like Rio Bravo, Three Amigos, and Tombstone. We interviewed Communications Director, Mary K. Davis, to learn more about this Old West-themed blowout.
RAL: How long has the event been running?
MD: This will be our eighth year, but the first under this name. The weekend used to be called Wild West Fest, but we realize that every day at Old Tucson is a “wild west fest.” We changed the name to reflect what the weekend is all about, which is celebrating the spirit of the Old West.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
MD: In the past couple of years we’ve seen over 3,000 people over the course of the weekend, with Saturday the busiest of the three days.
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
MD: All of the above. We do see a lot of families, and March is right in the heart of high season at Old Tucson. We have several hundred season pass holders, and this is a favorite event for sure. We also see a lot of kids because the schools are out for spring break.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
MD: In addition to Old Tucson’s signature entertainment and stunt shows, we bring in special guests to celebrate the culture of the region. We’ll have World Champion Wild West Performer Johnny Hotshot, Gary Harper and his Gun Demonstration (including a Gatling gun), Ha:San School cooking fry bread, doing basket making as well as cultural dance presentations, Mariachi Bellas Musical for two of the three days, and the Buffalo Soldiers.
RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?
MD: Our season sponsor is Casino del Sol Hotel & Resort, which is just minutes from the park. There are also camping and RV parks nearby. The park is only 12 miles from downtown, and there some lower cost hotels along the I-10/Frontage Road Corridor.
RAL: What does this event mean to the community?
MD: Old Tucson is an iconic part of the region’s history, with over 400 films, TV shows and other commercial projects produced at Old Tucson. It is visited by guests from all over the world annually and is the only wild west attraction and film location of its kind in Arizona.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
MD: Our guests continuously tell us that their visit here exceeded their expectations. From the entertainment to the food, all aspects contribute to an experience that they never forget. Our guests experience the old west in a unique, fun, and interactive environment that keeps many coming back year after year, and leaves first-timers laughing all the way back to their cars.
Admission is $19.95 for adults and $10.95 for kids (4-11). We have many discounts available including senior, military, and Pima County residents. Visitors are also encouraged to stop by the Tucson Visitors Center and pick up a rack card that offers $3 off up to four admissions. One thing we’re proud of is that we are the only attraction in Pima County that allows dogs in the park! We even provide dog treats and water bowls around the park for our four-legged guests.
For more information about the Spirit of the West Fest, please visit the event website.