Come Celebrate Arizona’s 100th Birthday

By: Elena Acoba

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July 3, 2011

Join in on Arizona's special and traditional Centennial celebration events. It's one big party through 2012!

About the author

Elena Acoba

Elena Acoba

Since moving to Tucson in 1988, freelance writer Elena Acoba has enjoyed traveling to the four corners of Arizona. Her favorites spots in her adopted state: the natural wonders and the rich historical sights.

Arizona turns 100 years old February 14, 2012, but the Centennial celebration is already underway. Join Arizona’s birthday party with these events that highlight all that makes the country’s 48th state so grand.

For additional information on these and other Centennial events, visit

Centennial Commemorations

Arizona Centennial Copper Chopper Tour

Through February 12, 2012. Paul Yaffe designed the shiny copper-colored, 100-horsepower motorcycle that’s touring the state with an “Arizona: The Open Road” exhibit. A ticket draw will determine the winner of the custom bike, which is equipped with parts and artistic embellishments forged from Arizona copper.

The Centennial Taste of Arizona

Feb. 14, 2011–Feb. 14, 2012. Sample the flavors of the Grand Canyon State at The Stockyards Restaurant in Phoenix. A special three-course Centennial menu features dishes Arizonans believe best represent the state.

Arizona Centennial Best Fest

Sept. 16–18 & October 2011 & Feb. 10–12, 2012. Arizona shows off in this festival series, which features hometown national entertainers, cultural heritage villages, arts & crafts and industry exhibits in a carnival atmosphere.

Each city that once was an Arizona capital will host its customized version of the festival, beginning with Prescott, followed by Tucson and ending in Phoenix.

Arizona Centennial Union Pacific Steam Engine Tour

October 2011. Legendary steam locomotive No. 844 will wind through Southern Arizona, Phoenix and Yuma as a tribute to the state’s railroad history and heritage. See the train at any one of its whistle stops along the route.

Expo 2012

February 15–December 15, 2012. See the vision of Arizona’s next 100 years at technology, architecture and environment pavilions, plus enjoy entertainment, rides and food. Sponsored by the Solanna Pima Group, this impressive World’s Fair-style exhibit will rise on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

The Big Party

Help ring in Arizona’s big anniversary in style. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will perform February 10 and 11, 2012, and the Best Fest gets underway in Phoenix February 10–12, launching five days of galas, parties and ceremonies.

Enjoy the thrilling rumble as a mass of motorcycles rolls into the state’s capital city of Phoenix on February 11.

On Statehood Day, February 14, bells will peal at 2:14 p.m. and parties will break out throughout Arizona. In Phoenix, activities will mark the honorary renaming of Washington Street to Centennial Way.

Favorite Events with a Twist

Throughout 2011 and 2012, these specially recognized annual events will feature a Centennial celebration flavor.

Gold Rush Days

Feb. 10–13, 2011. Rodeo, carnival, a parade and contests pay homage to Wickenburg’s ranching and mining heritages.

Parada del Sol Parade and Rodeo

Feb. 12 (parade) & Mar. 4–6 (rodeo), 2011. “Scottsdale Salutes the Troops in Cowboy Boots” recognizes 100 years of the military in Arizona and the state’s cowboy culture.

Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show

Feb. 17–27, 2011. This showcase of beautiful, powerful steeds recalls Arizona’s pioneer days.

La Fiesta de los Vaqueros

Feb. 19–27, 2011. Professional rodeo’s first major outdoor contest of the year keeps the cowboy culture alive in Tucson.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Faire

March 12, 2011. “Arizona’s Irish: Celebrate the Centennial!” in Phoenix will feature a history exhibit and Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble as the parade’s Grand Marshall.

Prescott Frontier Days

June 28–July 4, 2011. The World’s Oldest Rodeo will celebrate both the Centennial and the festival’s 125th edition with an extended schedule of events.

Rex Allen Days

Sept. 30–Oct. 2, 2011. Life-sized photos of Southeast Arizona historical figures will be featured during the annual parade and festivities honoring the cowboy star from Willcox.

Arizona National Livestock Show

Dec. 27, 2011–Jan. 1, 2012. In Phoenix, the Southwest’s largest livestock show continues Arizona’s ranching lifestyle.

Hashknife Pony Express

Feb. 10–12, 2012. The reenactment ride through Holbrook, Payson and Scottsdale will deliver special Centennial letters.

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