Savor Arizona's rich heritage 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the grand opening of Blue Rose Heritage and Culture Center, at 7200 2nd St., in Prescott Valley.
"The Center will help the town claim its roots and nail its image in Western Heritage," said Blue Rose Heritage and Culture Center Executive Director Jody Drake.
"We are right in the heartland of gold country, next to Lynx Creek, where Sharlot Hall grew up, Barlow Massick's Castle and Fitzmaurice Ruins," she said. "There is so much history here. We are excited about being able to share this with people."
Blue Rose Heritage and Culture Center is "dedicated to the accurate professional portrayal of history through plays, first-person presentations, music, poetry, classes, lectures, living history, festivals and tours," according to the non-profit organization's mission statement.
"We educate visitors of all ages on the rich history of Arizona's beginnings," said Drake, who has honed her passion for preserving history, educating others and entertaining for nearly two decades. "The cultural arts explain the past, express the present and build the future."
Drake's past work with Sharlot Hall Museum as education curator (a.k.a. Miss Sharlot), presenting Blue Rose theater productions and coordinating festivals and events has earned recognition by the Arizona Commission of the Arts, as well as a Bucky O'Neill Lifetime Achievement Award.
She has teamed up with Clyde Neville of Lonesome Valley Playhouse, Prescott Valley Historical Society and many volunteers in the community to raise cultural awareness in Prescott Valley; one of the goals outlined in the recent voter-approved general plan for the Town of Prescott Valley.
"This is a community hungry for things to do," said BRHCC Board President Randi Wise. "We'll develop it. They're ready for us." Tours of the new facility and a Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting ceremony will launch free festivities slated this Saturday.
Featured performers include bluegrass and old-time favorites delivered by Just for Mama; Tony Norris' storytelling and folksinging; a rare reading of The Ballad of Gutless Ditch by internationally renown Katie Lee inside the new performing arts center building; and Cowboy Poetry and music at its finest by Gail Steiger. The program will close with Tom and Christina Agostino's folk music finesse.
El Charro restaurant will serve food chuckwagon style from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Board member and Lonesome Valley Playhouse founder Neville has invested countless hours working with crews to renovate the leased wherehouse down the street from Bronzesmith Foundry.
Royal blue walls, vintage decorations, Southwest art and a steam punk wrought-iron hombre welcome the public into the new 6,000-square-foot performing arts center. A vast back yard features a covered stage, open seating and dance area, and a chuckwagon cooking area. Future plans call for an Old West facade along the fence border featuring 12-foot by 12-foot store fronts sponsored by local businesses and garden areas.
"We had a soft opening a couple weeks ago and sort of 'kicked the tires' to get ready for the public," said Neville. "We have been working hard getting ready to open our doors and have a lot more to do still, but we are looking forward to inviting the public in this weekend to see what we have going."
Questions regarding Saturday's free festival, upcoming classes and events, tours and other opportunities may be directed to Jody Drake at (928) 227-2737.