2nd weekend in February (Friday-Sunday); Nominal adult admission; No fee for Children Although pecans are not native to the Verde Valley, they have found a hospitable second home in the area for more than a century. Camp Verde has nearly 200 acres in commercial production, yielding 200,000 pounds of pecans each year.Pecan tress, with their excellent shade canopy, can also be seen in many local backyards.Their delicious nuts, which are harvested from June through March, are the inspiration for Camp Verde’s first festival of the year:The Pecan, Wine and Antique Festival. The festival is held during the second Saturday and Sunday in February.
Pecans and pecan pie.Pecans take center stage at the festival.They are served in many different flavors (from candied to chili nuts) and are baked in pies made according to a local recipe.Pecan pies can be purchased whole or enjoyed by the slice either unadorned or a la mode.
Yavapai County master gardeners are on hand to educate participants. They present seminars each day on topics related to pecan growing, such as composting and mineral nutrition, offer advice for growing pecan trees, identify pecan varieties and respond to questions.
Michael Kilby, a retired University of Arizona fruit, nut and vine specialist, judges the pecan samples in the show.
Hayrides.For some old-fashioned fun there are horse-drawn hayrides to a working pecan farm—The Summer Place—only two miles away.
Wine tasting. The festival showcases several Arizona wineries. Some find a home along the banks of the Verde River; others come from across the state. The Fort Bowie Vineyards, a frequent exhibitor, includes a pecan sparkling wine, which has slight pecan overtones.Wine tasting tickets are available as part of festival admission or as a separate purchase.
Antique dealers come to sell, buy and trade. The festival hosts antique dealers from around the state. The antiques range from furniture to collectibles. The wineries are mixed in among the antiques, so it’s possible to visit the booths while tasting wine.
Continuous live jazz music provides a backdrop for the event. It can also be heard up and down Main Street.Musicians come from Camp Verde and the surrounding communities as well as from Prescott and Phoenix.
For more information about the festivals, contact Verde Entertainments. If you plan to spend the night, call early to reserve a room or BOOK ONLINE HERE. Local hotels generally fill up during the festivals.
Crawdad Festival On first Fri/Sat in June. The event is not taking place in 2011 and it is not certain if it will in the future. The Camp Verde Crawdad Festival brings a touch of New Orleans to town during the first weekend in June.It features Mardi Gras beads and masks and the music and flavors of the Bayou.The festival begins in the afternoon and runs to midnight from Friday through Sunday.Events take place under a tent to provide shade from the summer sun.
Although Camp Verde has a thriving population of crawdads in many of its rivers, state law prohibits them from being transported live.That’s why festival organizers ship in thousands of crawdads each year from Louisiana. (Crawdads are closely related to lobsters, but are considerably smaller, generally around 3-inches long.)
Crawdad races. Some of the crawdads are featured in races on a specially devised track, with nearly 20 race lanes. Festival participants can pick out their own live crawdad from a holding area and cheer it on to the finish line. The first crawdad over the line is declared a winner. Token prizes are awarded.
The event goes nonstop, and people are packed around the track throughout the festival. Food vendors present Bayou specialties. Like lobsters, crawdads are considered a food delicacy.They are cooked in boiling water.Six pots run continuously all weekend long.For $10, one can get about two pounds of crawdads with potatoes and corn. Also on the festival food menu: crawdad sausages, crawdad etouffee, barbecue alligator and jambalaya. For the less adventurous, there are hot dogs and hamburgers.
A beer garden serves beer, soda and water.
Activities for children.Children enjoy face painting, a petting zoo and a blow-up, bouncy castle.And they can run in old-fashioned races, such as sack and three-legged dashes.The Arizona Game and Fish Department sets up an information booth and lets kids fish for crawdads.Local Louisiana transplants teach a few words of Cajun.
Cajun music and square dancing are entertainment highlights.The live music includes Bayou rhythms. On Saturday night the Cottonwood Roadrunners Square Dance Club sponsors square dancing in the gymnasium, and everyone is invited to join in.
Handmade crafts. Vendors bring handcrafted items for sale, such as pillows, leather goods (from bags to belts) and ironwork.
For more information about the festivals, contact the Verde Valley Rangers.If you plan to spend the night, call early to reserve a room or BOOK ONLINE HERE. Local hotels generally fill up during the festivals.
2nd Weekend in October (Fri-Sun). The longest-running festival in Camp Verde is Fort Verde Days, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006.The festival pays tribute to the town’s Cowboy heritage and pioneer history.
Fort Verde Days takes place on the grounds of the Camp Verde Community Center and at Fort Verde State Historical Park, a key Camp Verde attraction, especially for military enthusiasts. Fort Verde State Park is located at 125 E. Holloman Street, within walking distance of the community center.
The Fort Verde State Historical Park is one of the best preserved examples of a period fort in Arizona.It was the military outpost for General Crook’s U.S. army scouts and soldiers.It features three well-preserved homes listed on the Arizona and National Registers of Historic Places, period furnishings and military memorabilia.
Parade. The festival kicks off on Saturday with a Kiwanis pancake breakfast and a colorful parade with marching bands, a cavalry and nearly 75 floats.
Park activities. At the park, festival participants can get a glimpse of the past through historic reenactments, including an encampment (complete with an 1880s mess line), living history presentations, cavalry drills, tent talks on the Indian-Wars period, softball games and even a fashion show.
Colonel’s Daughter.Girls 15 and older compete for the title of Colonel’s Daughter by showcasing their horse handling skills and social graces.All contestants are dressed in 19th century period clothing Community Center activities. Booths of fine arts, arts and crafts, and antiques dot the grounds of the community center.There is also a children’s carnival, a barbecue and a Fort Verde Days auction. Bull-riding is a popular attraction on Friday and Saturday evenings. The championship round takes place on Sunday.On Sunday afternoon youngsters get a chance at the rink.They compete for prizes on stick horses and in sheep riding, calf riding, steer riding and junior bull riding. This event takes place at the Cliff Castle Casino Stargazer Pavilion.
Dance. A country and western dance is held from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday. It features a local country band. Live entertainment.Continuous live music sets the mood throughout the festival. Lots of great food. There is something for everyone at the food court from barbecue to Mexican food.Popular choices are hot dogs, corn dogs, funnel cakes, kettle corn and ice cream. Living History. Camp Verde merchants get in the spirit of the festival and set up skits in front of their historic stores.In the Wingfield Plaza there is a reenactment of the notorious murder of Mack Rogers and Clint Wingfield by Tom Ketchum. For more information about the festivals, contact Camp Verde Promotions +1 (928) 567-2282.If you plan to spend the night, call early to reserve a room or BOOK ONLINE HERE. Local hotels generally fill up during the festivals.