For an easy and affordable way to while away our weekend, we’re looking to downtown Mesa.
A “Jingle Bell BBQ” will fill the street on Saturday with the sweet smell of meat cooked up in a grilling challenge sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society.
“They’re (amateur barbecuers) going to be making hamburgers, steaks, hot dogs and chicken. They’re all competing for a $5,000 cash prize. It’s a big, serious competition,” says Downtown Mesa Association spokeswoman Erica Weatherford.
Vistors to the festivities — which benefits Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley — can sample smokey fare, too. Vendors include Bubba Fatz BBQ, Chubby Hubby BBQ and Whiskey River BBQ, a Gilbert outfit that’s appeared on Food Network’s “Chopped.”
“We’re going to have a food court area with kettle corn and frybread and sweets. And there’s a beer garden,” says Weatherford.
But the event features more than food.
A tree lighting takes place around 5 p.m. There are also visits from Santa Claus (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.), horse-drawn carriage rides (starting at noon), an ugly holiday sweater contest, a gingerbread house-building station, and a fire engine from Mesa Fire Department (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
The fist 150 kids will get goodie bags with candy and toys.
A community stage will feature live music and other performances from local groups starting at 11 a.m.
“Sometime shortly after the tree lighting, CooBee Coo, a local band, will go on. They’re a two-man group that does a full-on acoustic set that’s pretty amazing,” says Weatherford. “One plays guitar and drums with his foot and sings. The other plays harmonica and keyboard and drums and sings. They do a cover of ‘Imagine’ that’s amazing.”
Meanwhile, the Mesa Arts Festival will provide even more to see and do a short walk away at Mesa Arts Center. Local, regional and national artists will offer original works and holiday gifts for sale along Shadow Walk, while bands such as the Sugar Theives and Celestial Misfits play around the clock on two stages. You’ll also find a Bookman’s Family Activity Area and food vendors.
Both events are free.
If you go
Jingle Bell BBQ >> 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. On Macdonald between Main Street and Pepper Place in downtown Mesa. Free. (480) 890-2613 or DowntownMesa.com.
Mesa Arts Festival >> 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9. Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. Free. (480) 644-6500 or MesaArtsCenter.com.
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