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 September 30, 2014
Plan A Yuma, Arizona Trip Around An Event

 It's that time of year! As the chill creeps in up north, Yumans are enjoying spectacular sunsets and fresh mornings in the world's sunniest destination. So what are you waiting for? Make your travel plans now around one of our favorite annual events:

Rio de Cerveza Brewfest, Nov. 1 (Desert Sun Stadium) - This is Yuma's second annual showcase of craft brewers from around the region and nation, with live music, entertainment and lots of tasty beer samples.

Yuma Medjool Date Festival, Nov. 15 (Historic Downtown) - Yuma is one of the world's leading producers of this gourmet date - Medjools grown here are shipped worldwide, even to the Middle East! Enjoy a full day of fun, with food, entertainment, recipe contests, displays of specialized machinery, farm tours and more.

24th Annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival, Nov. 21-23 (various locations) - Local businesses organized the first Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival in 1991. Now sponsored by the nonprofit Caballeros de Yuma, this invitational festival draws balloonists from as far away as England. The festival features flights on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a "balloon glow" Saturday night.

El Toro Bowl, Dec. 6 (Veterans Memorial Stadium, Arizona Western College) - Leading junior college football teams clash in this post-season game sponsored by Walmart and Sam's Club, while their fans enjoy a weekend of festivities in the sunshine.

Dorothy Young Memorial Electric Light Parade, Dec. 13
(Historic North End) - A great family holiday event, this evening parade features marching bands and lots of decorated and illuminated floats.

Somerton Tamale Festival, Dec. 21 (Main Street, Somerton), presented by El Diabilito ASU Alumni Club. About 85,000 tamales of all varieties will be served up to fund scholarships for local students, along with live music and entertainment.

City of Yuma Military Appreciation Day, Jan. 10 (Historic Downtown Yuma) - This City of Yuma event honors vets and active-duty service members and celebrates its modern-day bases, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma and U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground.

Gathering of the Gunfighters, Jan. 10-11 (Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park) - Old West re-enactment groups from around the Southwest ride into town for this annual showdown. But instead of hot lead, what's flying is fightin' words - and acting! Groups are judged on skits and whether their get-ups, gear and firearms are authentic to the 1876-1909 era. And though they didn't have shootouts in the prison, the historic setting adds flavor.

German Fest on Madison, Jan. 17 (Madison Ave. between 1st and 2nd Streets, Historic North End). Music, gut essen und bier, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Yuma Territorial Marathon and Half-Marathon, Jan. 31 (Cocopah Casino & Resort) - This certified, chip-timed race is a good bet for fast times because it's a flat, low-altitude, out-and-back course - and January weather here is usually sunny but cool.

Civil War Days, Jan. 31-Feb. 1 (Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park) - True, there were no Civil War battles here - but the Quartermaster Depot was an active U.S. Army post and a strategic point of defense at the time. Authentic re-enactment groups converge for an old-school encampment and mock battles on the grassy grounds of the park.

Two Rivers Renaissance Faire, Feb. 6-8 (Yuma County Fairgrounds) - Experience the 16th century with merriment for all, including fire dancers, jugglers, lusty wenches and musicians and singers performing bawdy songs.

Yuma River Daze Blues Festival, Feb. 7 (Historic Downton) - This arts and crafts festival also features music, vendors and fun food to satisfy all kinds of appetites.

Yuma Square Dance Festival, Feb. 13-15 (Yuma Civic Center) - A long-time Yuma tradition, this event brings dancers from throughout the Western states for down-home dancin' with callers and cuers from around the region.

Silver Spur Rodeo, Feb. 13-15 (Yuma County Fairgrounds) - The Yuma Jaycees have proudly presented this unique American sport for the last 68 years. This PRCA-sanctioned rodeo draws top riders from around the Turquoise Circuit and beyond. There's also a parade Saturday morning and dances Friday and Saturday nights.

Redondo Days, Feb. 21 (Madison Avenue) - with free historical presentations, pioneer cookin' and fun for all.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma 52nd Annual Air Show, Feb. 28 (MCAS Yuma) - Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, the business air station in the Corps, traces its roots to the earliest days of aviation.
This is one of the largest air shows in the Southwest, featuring military and civilian aircraft on the ground and aloft. New for 2015, air show rehearsals, children's expo and twilight show on Friday night (Feb. 27).

Yuma Lettuce Days, Feb. 28-March 1, (University of Arizona Yuma Agricultural Center) - Arizona was long known for citrus and cotton - but the fertile lands here at the Colorado River's delta also serve as the nation's salad bowl. This event - sprouting up in 2015 at a working research farm in the Yuma Valley just seven miles from downtown -- celebrates Yuma's booming agriculture industry with culinary flair, with celebrity chefs, cooking demos and more.

Midnight at the Oasis, March 6-8 (Ray Kroc Baseball Complex) - The Southwest's premier classic car and nostalgia festival features 1,000 classic cars, plus regional food served up by local nonprofits, vendors from around the West, rides for the kids, oldies rock-and-roll concerts Friday and Saturday night. Kick it off with a classic car cruise Friday evening.

Yuma County Fair, March 31-April 5 (Yuma County Fairgrounds) - With its agricultural traditions and rural feel, Yuma's perfect for an old-fashioned fair.

5th Annual Tunes & Tacos Festival, April 11 (Yuma Civic Center) - Enjoy live entertainment on the grassy lawns of the Ray Kroc Baseball complex and sample all kinds of delicious taco creations as local taco chefs compete for the titles of Taco King and Salsa Queen.

ARTbeat 8, April 18 (Yuma Art Center, Historic Downtown) - Enjoy a free, juried outdoor exhibit that's been recognized as one of Arizona's outstanding arts events. You'll discover an eclectic mix of recognized and emerging local, regional and international artists working in a wide variety of media.

Sound like a full calendar? These events are just a taste of all the fun in the sun that's coming to Yuma in upcoming months.

Yuma Visitors Bureau markets the Yuma area within the travel and tourism industry and to the general public. Direct travel spending in Yuma County in 2012 totaled more than $657 million, supported 6,660 jobs and generated more than $40 million in state and local tax revenues.

Yuma's population nearly doubles in the winter months, thanks to more than 23,000 spots in RV parks and resorts. The community also offers nearly 4,300 hotel rooms, conference and meeting facilities, and three modern casinos.