Thu, April 02

Pecan, Wine & Antiques Festival

Camp Verde's sixth annual Pecan/Wine & Antique Festival is, for the most part, a homegrown event featuring homegrown favorites.

There is no doubt the Verde Valley has had a long-term love affair with the pecan. By most accounts the first trees were planted in Camp Verde around the turn of the century.

The scenic tree lined portion of Montezuma Castle Highway, known to many as Pecan Lane, bears testimony to the sweet nut's deep roots in the community.

Wine is the new kid on the block.

Although there have been vineyards in the state since the Spaniards first settled some 400 years ago, the vines are a relatively new item to the Verde Valley.

First cropping up about ten years ago, there are now at least four vineyards and six wineries up and running or under construction in Yavapai County, most here in the Verde.

The antiques, on the other hand, tend to be transitory in nature, some homegrown, some from afar.

However, if the popularity of the local festival is any indicator, the antiques have made themselves at home, and the pecans and the wine have readily accepted the outside attention.

Beginning Friday, Feb. 10, and running through Sunday, Feb. 12, the Town of Camp Verde will host what has arguably turned into the town's premiere downtown event.

Featuring wine and song (and presumably some women), the three-day festival has grown in popularity every year since it began in 2001. The festival was recognized as the state's No. 1 special event in 2004 and has been nominated for the Governor's Award for Tourism.

And if things work out the way some hope they will, the event may find its way onto the popular PBS series Antique Roadshow next year.

Regardless of whether that happens or not, the show will go on this year, featuring jazz music, Arizona wine, hay rides, a bake off and a pecan growing contests. Oh, yea, there will also be loads of antiques for the browsing.

According to Camp Verde Parks and Recreation Director Lynda Moore, there will be at least 30 antique dealers, four Arizona wineries, horticulture demonstrations, plenty of opportunities to sample wine and the usual fair share of fun and frolic associated with the festival.

The wineries will include Kokopelli Winery of Tempe, Fort Bowie Winery, featuring their unique Pecan Delight wine, San Dominique Winery located on Interstate 17 and Cherry Road and Granite Creek winery from Chino Valley.

Anyone wanting to enter the pecan growing contest needs to gather 40 of their best looking pecans from a single tree and submit them to the Parks and Recreation Department by Thursday, Feb. 9. You can call Parks and Recreation at 567-0535 for the details.

For those who do not grow their own pecans but love them nevertheless, there will be pecans of all varieties for sale, including 250 pecan pies (buy the pie or buy the slice) prepared by Linda Dompkowski of Sinful Delights.

The town will also be offering hayrides from downtown to Summer Place Pecan Farm on Saturday and Sunday, one at 11.a.m. and one at 2 p.m.

This year's feature musicians include jazz master Pete Pancrazi, and local jazz singer Vismaya, accompanied by her extraordinary pianist Les Czimber.

The sponsors for this year's festival are Cliff Castle Casio, Rinker Materials, Central Arizona Land and Home Real Estate, Redi-Help, Kiwanis and The Bugle newspaper.

Cliff Castle's Friendly force will be on patrol throughout the weekend in search of folks having a good time. The group of NAU students will be passing out discount coupons and gifts to lucky recipients.

The festival will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Admission is $5, or if you chose to do some wine sampling, admission is $10 and includes six wine tasting coupons and a souvenir glass.

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