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Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival

Cottonwood, Arizona’s based Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival: 2021 Art Competition and Theme Revealed

Cottonwood, Arizona’s based Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival: 2021 Art Competition and Theme Revealed Calling all bird lovers and artists around in and around Arizona! Friends of the Verde River, the organizers of Cottonwood, Arizona’s based Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival (VVBNF) l, has just released the theme of the 2021 event in support of the annual art competition. Next year’s theme will be…drum-roll please…in Carrion Birds, represented in art by the Turkey Vulture. With the theme reveal comes the annual art competition. Friends of the Verde River are calling for all artists to submit their Turkey Vulture focused artwork to by March 27th, 2020. A selected image will be used to help market the event and will be featured throughout The Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival’s online and print marketing, as well as in Friends of the Verde River’s promotional fundraising products.  Winners will be announced two-weeks later on April 10th. But wait, there’s more! The winning artists will also receive a $100 price and a free 10×10 space at next year’s festival to exhibit and sell their creations. This Year’s Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival The art competition and theme for the 2021 VVBNF may have just been announced, but let’s not forget that the 2020 Verve Valley Birding & Nature Festival is right around the corner. This year’s festival will take place between April 23rd and April 26th at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ, a prime location and time for bird viewing. As reads, “With close proximity to the Verde, Oak Creek, Sycamore Creek and other perennial waters, festival participants get to choose from over 80 field trips, hikes, and workshops in one of Arizona’s richest birding habitats.” The Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival supports environmental conservation by encouraging stewardship of the Verde River. This annual event is the perfect travel escape for visitors from Phoenix, Phoenix, and even California. To register, visit And for you artists out there, don’t forget to submit your best Turkey Vulture artwork before April 10th. Bird Festival Cottonwood AZ

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Annual Christmas Craft Bazaar & Parade of Lights

Camp Verde Parks & Recreation reminds every one of our annual Christmas Craft Bazaar and Parade of Lights Saturday, December 14th. Register now for your entry in the parade for its 19th year. The parade kicks off at 6:00 pm along Main Street in Downtown and registration is free. Floats should be decorated with plenty of lights for this night time parade to make a bright spectacle for our parade watchers. There is no theme for the parade, just a fun time for all and a chance to use your imagination to decorate. Get your community group, business or friends together and schedule a fun night. Past entries include ATVs, firetrucks, big commercial trucks and construction equipment as well as, of course, horses and wagons. Free registration forms are available through then click on events. The parade also includes the official arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus in their sleigh followed by time with Santa afterwards.

The Christmas Craft bazaar is held from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in the Community Center Gym at 51 E. Hollamon Street with 45 vendors from the Verde Valley and beyond. Come browse the large selection of Christmas decorations and unique handmade gifts for family and friends in our warm indoor facility, plus a few outside. This is a great chance to find special gifts for Christmas and maybe something for yourself.

After the parade come to the Community Center Gym for your chance to talk to Santa and take your own pictures. There is no admission charge for the Craft Bazaar and no registration fee for the Parade of Lights. Contact Camp Verde Parks & Recreation to register or with questions 395 S. Main St. Camp Verde or (928)554-0820 and press 3 or go to

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First Annual Local Holiday Shopping Bazaar

The city of Sedona and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce are hosting Merry Midpoint for the celebration of the halfway completion of the road improvement project in Uptown Sedona. The Shops at Pinon Pointe are bringing the holiday cheer with a shopping experience not to be missed.

On Tuesday, December 3 between 3:00 – 8:00 p.m. the Shops at Pinon Pointe adjacent to the Hyatt Vacation Club will be hosting their first annual Holiday Shopping Bazaar for locals and visitors with some great holiday festivities for the entire family and the participating shops are staying open later than usual.

The participating merchants will be offering holiday deals all day if you decide to start shopping early.

In addition to exclusive EVENT DISCOUNTS your will find great gifts at the galleries and shops. The participating merchants have put together a fun ELF on the SHELF Holiday Give Away that is very impressive. By participating in the Elf on the Shelf hunt and finding all the Elves you will be entered to win amazing prizes.

To get you in the mood roaming Elves (Tom and Shondra Jepperson) will be telling tales of the North Pole, singing and guiding you thru the shops. The elves will be there along with Santa from 3 to 5 p.m. Santa will be at the patio outside of Cold Stone Creamery.

There will also be face painting for the kids from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Each participating store will be offering a special local discount or promotion for you to take advantage of. Go to for details. Most of the participating stores will be open till 8:00 p.m. with amazing deals.

Stop by the Art of Wine to warm you up. There will be complimentary warm beverages as well (cider and hot chocolate) in some of the participating stores to keep you warm as well.

The impressive prizes for those that participate has an incredible GRAND PRIZE donated by Sound Bites Grill. A 2-night stay at the Hyatt Vacation Club, a red rock Jeep tour for two, and a $100 gift certificate for Sound Bites Grill. This prize alone has over an $800 Value.

Other prizes include the following. DeSerio Gallery is donating an original framed photo of Snowy Sedona valued at $435, Visions Fine Art Gallery is giving TWO signed prints form Octavio Ocampo, The Art of Wine (wine tasting for 2, a $36 value and a $50 bottle of wine). My Inheritance will be giving a Native American Liquid Silver Necklace (a $150 value), Chicos is donating women’s jewelry, Wisdom Arts – TWO gift certificates valued at $25 each, Rock n Rouge (surprise gift valued at $35), Music Inspired Collection (two $25 Gift Certificates) , One World Collection (Winter Poncho from Nepal valued at $49), Always on Vacay (a Sedona Quartz single stone necklace valued at $35 for men or women ) and gift cards form Wildflower Bakery, Cold Stone Bakery and Starbucks.

The shops at Pinon Pointe has grown over the last year and now has two stores that now carry men’s clothing, so bring the guys, ladies.

To be entered to win prizes you need to get an Elf Raffle card at any of the participating stores and head out on your shopping excursion. Get your card stamped after you find the Elf on the Shelf in each store and turn the card in to the last shop. Winners will be called on the following day to pick up your prizes.

The shops at Pinon Pointe is located adjacent to the Hyatt Vacation Club in uptown Sedona. There is plenty of parking on the hotel property.

The Holiday shopping bazaar is from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m. but you may enjoy the shopping promotions and start your Elf on the Shelf hunt any time after 10:00 a.m. when most of the stores open. Just ask for the Elf on the Shelf Card at one of the participating merchants. Some merchants will be open till 8:00 p.m. for some local Sedona late night shopping!

For more information, visit

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Light up the Mountain Celebration on November 30th in Jerome, Arizona

Photo by Ron Chilston.

The Upper Park in Jerome is the place to be for the lighting of the town Christmas Tree.

Once again, it is Christmas in Jerome and that means an afternoon of photos with Santa, music by Mingus Union High School Choir and Jazz Band and a night of luminarias, reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and tree lighting.

Bring your camera to The Old Fire House for a special photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus starting at 3:30. Then, stroll through town and listen to small groups of Mingus Union High School students performing at many locations. Festivities begin at 5:00PM with the merchants of Jerome setting out lovely luminarias and lighting the streets by the flickering of candles. At 6:00PM, join town residents in the upper park for the traditional reading of a holiday classic and a warm welcome from Santa as he lights the park with a beautiful display of holiday cheer.

Spend the day in Jerome and enjoy the unique restaurants, shops, galleries and wine tasting rooms that make this mountain top town one of Arizona’s treasures. Start your holiday season At the Top.

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Grand Canyon Project Live Performance

Come to Camp Verde Community Library at 1:00 pm on Friday, November 15th for a multi-media, Wild West journey Back to the Beginning of Grand Canyon tourism. Hear stories and songs about one family’s long legacy of Arizona history from the descendants of early, desert trailblazers.

The performance features fifth generation Arizona native and singer songwriter, Meagan Gipson, and her mom, author Debbie Gipson, in a live performance show. Featuring songs from Meagan’s album paired with readings from Debbie’s book, along with vintage staging and a historic slide show all based on their ancestors.

Learn more about William Wallace Bass who founded one of the first camps at the Grand Canyon. Hear about Ada Diefendorf-Bass who kept a diary for fifty years of daily life experiences living at the Grand Canyon. Be introduced to Bert Lauzon, the third member on the famous Kolb Brothers’ “moving pictures” expedition along the Colorado River, as he later became one of the first GC Park Rangers as well as a constable. Experience the past through a multi-sensory tour designed around art, music, storytelling and imagery, getting to know the people who fell in love with one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Camp Verde Community Library is located just off of Montezuma Castle Highway at 130 Black Bridge Road, Camp Verde AZ. For more information about this or any other library program visit the library’s website at or call 554-8380 during library open hours Mon-Thu 9am-8pm, Fri-Sat 9am-5pm.

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Climate Change and the Impacts on the Southwest

Flagstaff lead Meteorologist, Darren McCollum presents: “Climate Change and the Impacts on the Southwest. This community event is free to the public and will be at the Camp Verde Community Library, 130 Black Bridge Rd from 11am-1pm.

Please join us for this presentation by Flagstaff Meteorologist Darren McCollum. The program will give a brief overview on climate related impacts being observed globally and nationally. It will explore why it is that human activities are changing the climate of our planet. Darren McCollum will present results from the National Climate Assessment including what changes are being observed in the southwest U.S./Arizona as well as predicted changes for the rest of this century. This presentation will shine the light on how climate change is a local issue. With this knowledge, we can better understand why we, as individuals need to begin to get involved, make personal changes and sacrifices to safeguard our community and begin to mitigate the negative impact of climate change in the southwest.

Darren McCollum received a Master of Science degree in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma focusing on the severe weather patterns of the monsoon and Gulf of California moisture surges that are so important to an active monsoon thunderstorm environment. For two years he served as a Research Associate at the National Severe Storms Laboratory with a continued focus on the Arizona monsoon. From 1994-1998 he worked as an Intern at the National Weather Service in Tucson, and since 1998 he has been with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, initially as Journey Forecaster, and, since 1999 as Lead Forecaster/Meteorologist.

NAZCCA is a 501c3 non-profit, non-partisan, non-electoral grassroots organization. NAZCCA strives to invite and inspire people to step up and take action through education and empowerment addressing climate change at a local level of engagement. For more information visit our website at NAZCCA.ORG

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“Music in the Stacks” Offers Free Music Series at Camp Verde Community Library

The next Music in the Stacks, a free monthly concert series, will take place on Thursday, November 14th at 5:30 pm in Camp Verde Community Library’s Terracotta Room. Music in the Stacks is a showcase of local and national musicians who entertain regularly in Northern Arizona. There are 4-6 different performers during the show, with a rotating variety each month.

November’s concert features the following talented local musicians: Kris Baldwin, Greg Perantoni, Christy Fisher, Gary Simpkins & Matt Fabritz. These free concerts will continue the second Thursday of every month at the same time and location.

Camp Verde Community Library is located just off of Montezuma Castle Highway at 130 Black Bridge Road, Camp Verde AZ. For more information about this or any other library program visit the library’s website at or call 554-8380 during library open hours Mon-Thu 9am-8pm, Fri-Sat 9am-5pm.​

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Visit Camp Verde for Grand Canyon Project Live Performance

Come to Camp Verde Community Library at 1:00 pm on Friday, November 15th for a multi-media, Wild West journey Back to the Beginning of Grand Canyon tourism. Hear stories and songs about one family’s long legacy of Arizona history from the descendants of early, desert trailblazers.

Fifth generation Arizona native and singer songwriter, Meagan Gipson, and her mom, author Debbie Gipson, in a live performance show. Featuring songs from Meagan’s album paired with readings from Debbie’s book, along with vintage staging and a historic slide show all based on their ancestors.

Learn more about William Wallace Bass who founded one of the first camps at the Grand Canyon. Hear about Ada Diefendorf-Bass who kept a diary for fifty years of daily life experiences living at the Grand Canyon. Be introduced to Bert Lauzon, the third member on the famous Kolb Brothers’ “moving pictures” expedition along the Colorado River, as he later became one of the first GC Park Rangers as well as a constable. Experience the past through a multi-sensory tour designed around art, music, storytelling and imagery, getting to know the people who fell in love with one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Camp Verde Community Library is located just off of Montezuma Castle Highway at 130 Black Bridge Road, Camp Verde AZ. For more information about this or any other library program visit the library’s website at or call 554-8380 during library open hours Mon-Thu 9am-8pm, Fri-Sat 9am-5pm.

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Stellar Productions Live

Stellar Productions Live’s mission is to provide professional services with the highest degree of integrity, creativity and efficiency. The Stellar team enjoys hosting recognized authors, spiritual teachers, renowned leaders, and speakers for your spiritual growth. Join us at our next event!

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Element Sedona | Element by Westin

The New Element by Westin Sedona Hotel is steps away from breathtaking Red Rock hikes, famous restaurants and premium shopping. Element Sedona is the perfect stop on your trip to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Prescott or Phoenix. Element helps you stay connected & feel alive & balanced while away.

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Visit Jerome for the Jerome Art Walk This Nov 2

Jerome Art Walk on November 2nd is the perfect post-Halloween night. If you missed the legendary Halloween costume party in Jerome, enjoy a more sedate but equally as entertaining night in this mile high town. Festivities run from 5 to 8 pm. Studios and galleries will host openings and happenings throughout the artist colony. From the Old Jerome High School studios to Made in Jerome Pottery at the other end of town, art, music and lively conversation are everywhere. Enjoy great food in wonderful restaurants, wine tasting and maybe even spend the night at one of the lodging choices. Park your car and take the shuttle or stroll the winding streets on a cool fall night. For more information visit or contact Donna @ 928.301.3004.

[photo: foureight_Puscifer]

Photo: foureight_Puscifer

For November’s Jerome Art Walk, Puscifer the Store and Four Eight Wineworks will host a special anniversary party, celebrating one year since Four Eight moved from Clarkdale to Jerome. Four Eight Wineworks is Arizona’s only wine incubator, giving talented emerging winemakers access to resources that help them make and release their own Arizona wines. To celebrate this landmark anniversary, Art Walk attendees will be able to try an exciting new wine release from one of our incubator winemakers, Heart Wood Cellars of Camp Verde. Valerie and Daniel Wood, winemakers at Heart Wood, will answer questions about their new Tempranillo. We’ll also be featuring the wines of Tim White, one of the region’s most respected vintners, formerly of Arizona Stronghold and currently working with Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars. Tim’s solo label, Iniquus Cellars, is exclusively available at Four Eight Wineworks, offering an Arizona interpretation on California (Paso Robles) fruit. Tim will be at the event to share his experience working the Arizona terroir.

Cody has been working on a new series of slightly abstract paintings he calls his ‘ Suspect Saguaros’ series. stop in the check them out. 300 Hull Ave next to spook hall.

Zen Mountain Gallery welcomes Mark Hemleben as featured artist for November Artwalk. Mark Hemleben is an award winning Plein Air painter from Jerome, Arizona. Hemleben’s works are beloved and collected by art lovers around the globe. He also counts William Shatner among his many collectors.

Originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, Hemleben paints with rare energetic emotion and authentic originality. His paintings capture the heart and draw the viewer into his world. With a well controlled stroke, he translates the power of nature onto canvas.

Hemleben studied art and history at Louisiana State, and has traveled the world as a US Marine, and explorer.

“I picked up a brush twenty years ago and from that point on, that is all I wanted to do,” says Hemleben. “There is a magnificence in the solitude of nature, its vibrancy, harmony, and splendor, are what inspire me. I strive to capture the abundance of life, the constant change of light and seasons.”

Please join Zen Mountain Gallery during Artwalk from 5-8pm for a glass of wine and the opportunity to purchase one of Mark’s paintings with him in the gallery.

The public is invited to join Ceramist, Marsha Foutz and Mixed Media/Watercolor Artist, Judy Jaaskelainen at Jerome Artist’s Cooperative Gallery, located in the Historic Hotel Jerome, 502 Main Street, Jerome AZ, on Sat. Nov. 2, 5-8 P.M. to celebrate “FACTS and Fantasy”, in Art. Both artists have applied their creative talents in unique and colorful new ways. The art is new, exciting and uncommon. Light Refreshments will be provided.

The Original Jerome Winery will re-open in mid November at it’s new location on Jerome Avenue and will feature 100% Arizona grown wine and of course our favorite artists. For now visit Wine Wife Spirited Gifts at 114 Jerome Avenue featuring fun wine and spirits gifts and fine art. Hours are 10-5, with extended hours for art walk.

Everyone is Welcome! Made in Jerome will be hosting a book signing by Patricia Jacobson of the new book HAUNTED JEROME that she co-authored with Midge Steuber, from 5 – 7 p.m. this Artwalk Nov. 2nd. Jane Moore will be showing a new series of her fabulous critter pots! Need any presents for horse lovers? Hall and the Howlers will be playing some new and old tunes out in the kiln yard! Come and join us!

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Camp Verde Library Endowment Grants $15,000 to the Library

20 years of fundraising begins to make a difference.

The Town of Camp Verde pauses today to give itself an extremely well-deserved pat on the back. Perhaps several. Twenty years ago, Dorothy Wood, Sharon Massey, Pat Hjalmarson, and Vada Lavato joined forces to pull together community leaders and educators for a special project. Their vision? To inspire us to step up to the challenge of creating a $500,000 investment fund as a permanent funding source for our Camp Verde Community Library. And step up Camp Verde did!

The fondly remembered Denim and Lace Dinner and Auction fundraisers were only one of the many creative ways our town’s businesses and residents pulled together to raise money for the Camp Verde Library Endowment (CVLE). With the active support of the Yavapai-Apache Nation, which generously donated space for the Denim and Lace fundraisers, and working in tandem with the single-minded determination of Linda Harkness and others raising funds through the Citizen’s Committee for the Camp Verde Library for the construction of a new library building, CVLE supporters relentlessly pursued their endowment goal.

The charter members of CVLE — Yona Ash, Betty Chester, Phil England, Pat Hjalmarson, Vada Lovato, Baltazar Lozano, Sharon Massey, Fred Sanchez, and Dorothy Wood — conspired to extract money from our wallets. And somehow managed to make us feel good about it. In 2018 CVLE achieved its goal of $500,000 invested with Arizona Community Foundation to form a permanent funding source for our local library. On, Tuesday, November 5, at 10:00a in the Fireside Room, CVLE board members will present Kathy Hellman, Director of the Camp Verde Community Library, with a check for $15,000. This is the first of many checks to come.

In presenting the check, Mayor German said “I feel the spirit of Dorothy Wood here with us today. This remarkable lady was simply a force of nature. Her energy gathered us together and propelled us forward. Her foresight and her ability to inspire others to action enabled our community to turn a dream into a fiscal reality.”

In accepting the check, library director Kathy Hellman expressed profound gratitude and said “We have a very special room in our library dedicated to our founders and the first person we have honored is Dorothy Wood. Dorothy was fond of saying that a great library makes a great town and I think all of Camp Verde would wholeheartedly agree.”

The $500,000 CVLE principal is managed by the Arizona Community Foundation. Revenues will continue to provide vital support for library programs for years to come. The CVLE principal will remain untouched but the revenues generated by the fund will make an incredible difference. Current residents of the Town of Camp Verde, their children, and generations yet unborn will reap the benefits of these visionaries. ​

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Wine Tours of Sedona

Wine Tours of Sedona

Wine Tours of Sedona is your premier tour guide and sightseeing service for anything you are interested in doing along the Verde Valley Wine Trail and northern Arizona. From local wines and micro-brews, raw chocolate to scenic views, we have you covered! We are locally owned and operated.

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Red Rock Cafe

Red Rock Cafe

At Red Rock Cafe we serve traditional breakfast and lunch all day, featuring our own special unique recipes with a southwest flair! Blue Corn Huevos Rancheros, homemade banana bread french toast or the incredible 3lb cinnamon roll, has made us Sedona’s best brunch since 2008

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Sedona Spirit Journeys

Offering Personalized and Customized Sedona Spectacular Journeys & Vortex Tours in a variety of ways to experience the beauty & energy of Sedona’s magnificent Red Rocks. Medicine Wheel Teachings, Weddings, Spiritual Counseling, Intuitive Readings & more. Permitted by the Coconino National Forest.

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Vortex ATV Rentals Cottonwood Arizona

Vortex ATV Rental

Explore Arizona in a new area that many people have not been able to see! Rent a 2, 4, or 6 seater ATV for a self-guided tour that can be a breathtaking view, or an exploration journey where you see the old Native American ruins.

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The Ranch House Cottonwood

The Ranch House

Experience the down home welcome of The Ranch House on a beautiful private horse ranch. Surrounded by the magical mountain regions of Mingus and the Red Rocks of Sedona AZ. The Ranch House sits on a beautiful bluff overlooking the small quaint town of Cottonwood.

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Emerson Theater Collaborative

Emerson Theater Collaborative offers youth and community a way to grow through the arts. ETC’s mission is to serve youth, under-represented communities and artists with an emphasis on diversity, by producing innovative and exhilarating theater for our community.

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Gateway Cottage Wellness Center

At Gateway Cottage Wellness Center we are devoted to empowering our clients to discover and achieve their complete wellness potential: mind, body and spirit. We offer exceptional and dedicated healing practitioners, unique healing minerals and wellness products, and local artisan’s jewelry and art.

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canon wren cabins sedona

Canyon Wren Cabins

Located in a parklike setting in Oak Creek Canyon, the Canyon Wren Cabins offer a unique niche for single and couple getaways. Four cozy cabins invite you into a very private space with electric fireplaces, jacuzzi bathtubs, kitchens, private patios and gas grills. Milena & Mike, your hosts on site.

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CBD Sedona is now a Certified Sustainable Business

CBD Sedona is now a Certified Sustainable Business at the Conservationist/Bronze level by the Sustainability Alliance.

CBD Sedona owners Aalia Kazan and Edward Gordon, L.Ac., didn’t start out selling CBD. Their West Sedona clinic began as an Acupuncture and Sound Therapy office. “When patients kept asking for CBD we decided to investigate the science behind the hype, and began to offer CBD Hemp oil recommendations,” says Kazan. Now, Gordon and Kazan both direct the growth of the CBD Sedona Clinic, while Edward provides Acupuncture services and free medical CBD Hemp oil consultations.

They buy their main product from a Kentucky farmer who uses organic methods (but isn’t certified organic, which can be hard for small farms to afford). They’re also starting to make their own salves with the aim of being as organic as possible and buying local where possible for ingredients such as beeswax, grapeseed oil, arnica flower, sunflower, and rosemary.

One of their biggest climate impacts is transportation for purchases and product sales. They buy as much as they can at a time to reduce shipments, combine online orders, and offset emissions through UPS’s Carbon Neutral program. They’re also conducting an online energy audit through Arizona Public Service to see what else they can do beyond having LED lights.

To cut down on plastic bottles, they have a water refill station onsite. (See the Sustainability Alliance blog post on how to choose one.) They save and reuse packaging materials, and conserved resources by using reclaimed furniture and display cases in the shop.

Kazan talks about “leading with gratitude.” She works to cultivate a positive tone among the team and is committed to developing employees and giving them opportunities to grow. One employee, for example, started out doing manual labor and now has wide ranging responsibilities. Employees are encouraged to share their ideas. “They make fantastic suggestions all the time that we usually can implement,” says Kazan. They’re also working on a profit-sharing program to implement soon. See who else is certified.

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Camp Verde’s Corn Fest is a Success

The Town of Camp Verde organized the successful return of Corn Fest this past Saturday!

The street fair format and the air-conditioned gym were a rousing success with over 3,500 attendees enjoying food, quality products, crafts and entertainment from over 50 vendors. Hauser and Hauser corn was the highlight with 500 dozen ears roasted or sold fresh. Meals on Wheels raised $900 with their sales of fresh corn to go and the vendor, King Corn, made sure plenty of roasted Hauser corn was available. Parks & Recreation acted as the corn supplier providing Hauser corn to each group fresh from the fields. A live radio broadcast from KVRD and sponsorship from SRP helped spread the word.

Our Summer Day Camp staff provided games, crafts and activities for kids as well as some vendors having kid’s crafts. The Camp Verde Historical Society, Little League, Youth Football and the Arena Association were all on hand to fundraise and show their community involvement. The separate Sweet Corn IKF Kickboxing Championships on the field in the evening between Arizona & Nevada added another fun activity for the day.

Volunteers had a much smaller work load this year with the corn roasting duties handled by a vendor contracted by Parks & Rec. Gate keeping duties were handled with volunteers as well as a ton of work on the entertainment stage in the Gym. Sheri Hauser and Rebecca Archuletta coordinated the work of entertainers, kids and adults to provide all day varied entertainment. This included four different music acts and several stage productions involving kids all organized by volunteers and supported by sponsors including Kiwanis Club of Camp Verde, ACE Hardware, Peak Performance and Glorybound Publishing. Volunteers from The Olive Branch, New Beginnings and our local volunteer group The Old Guys as well as others helped with set-up and tear down, always a thankless job.

After being cancelled last year, Corn Fest returned for its 27th year, this time back under Town operation after a decade or more of work by volunteers with Camp Verde Promotions. The new one day format seems to be a success based on feedback from vendors and attendees alike. “This gives Corn Fest its own unique atmosphere in addition to the corn focus” said Michael Marshall, Camp Verde Parks & Recreation Manager. “The Town has a steep learning curve on events but we feel we have made good progress and already learned a ton from this first event and already have several ideas to expand and improve this and the other events” said Marshall. Parks & Rec is continuing work on Fort Verde Days planning for October 11 & 12 and interested volunteers should check the Blue Book Now button of Facebook at Town of Camp Verde Parks & Recreation on how to sign up.

Contact Camp Verde Parks & Recreation at (928)554-0828, or 395 S. Main St. for more information.

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Sedona Poké Restaurant just became a Certified Sustainable Business

Ryan Nichols may have rescued your computer in the past, but now he’s focused on pleasing your taste buds. After running a successful computer repair shop, Nichols wanted to try his hand at food – so he turned over management of the repair business and opened Sedona Poké restaurant right next door.

Nichols purchased all new, energy-efficient equipment for the kitchen and is already seeing large savings on electricity costs. He also made sure absolutely everything in the restaurant is movable so it’s easy to clean behind the appliances—even the big refrigerators.

All employees are cross-trained which makes scheduling easy and offers variety in the work day. It also builds an understanding of the entire business so team members can make improvement suggestions.

Busy times in a restaurant can be stressful, but Nichols works to maintain a relaxed atmosphere and open communication with the staff. It helps that he works alongside everyone else to help create an excellent experience for customers.

Employees get a discount at Snap Fitness – West Sedona (another Certified Sustainable Business), to help them stay healthy, and Snap members can receive a discount on their Poké bowl after a workout.

The model for a Poké restaurant is serving food in disposable bowls. Nichols purchases bowls made of sugarcane fiber that can customers can compost in their backyard compost bin or with a service such as Compost Crowd. Some sustainability-minded customers bring their own reusable bowls to the restaurant, which is even better!

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Oaxaca Restaurant, a Certified Sustainable Restaurant in Uptown Sedona

In an industry known for turnover, Oaxaca Restaurant in Uptown Sedona has such great employment practices that team members stick around; some employees have been there 35 years, and you can even find father-son pairs on staff.<br><br> Owners Carla and Mark Butler and their management team have created a family atmosphere with flexible hours so if someone has an emergency, others happily cover. Many of the staff carpool, which reduces both driving burden and environmental impacts – plus it gives time to socialize.<br><br> Employees are encouraged to build their skills through cross-training, and are given opportunities to advance to positions of greater responsibility when they are ready.<br><br> The restaurant uses energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen and they are converting all lighting to LED as bulbs are replaced. Green cleaning products keep everything sparkling.<br><br> Water conservation is a top priority, with low flow fixtures, a new dishwasher, and drip irrigation for the landscaping.<br><br> With roots in the community dating back to the early 1970s, Oaxaca has demonstrated that it’s sustainable in many ways!

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Sedona Among “Best Small Towns” in America

Sedona, Arizona, “The Most Beautiful Place on Earth,” continues to add accolades from visitors and travel media, taking fourth place in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 “Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA.”

“Nowhere else will you find a landscape as dramatically colorful,” the report declares. “The towering red rocks and jagged sandstone buttes matched against an almost-always blue sky have beckoned to professional and budding artists for years.”

The ranking is part of U.S. News & World Report’s annual listing of Best Vacation Destinations, released June 25. Only Telluride, Colorado; Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Lake Tahoe rate ahead of Sedona in the opinion of U.S. News editors and poll respondents.

“Spiritualists have flocked to the region to take advantage of the numerous New Age vortexes with supposed spirit-balancing powers,” the report continues, praising Sedona’s many spas for “traditional treatments with a local twist – such as red clay wraps and blue corn body scrubs.” U.S. News cites Sedona’s more than 100 hiking trails and local wines as additional desirable vacation amenities.

“Our high ranking is important to Sedona since our Sustainable Tourism Plan emphasizes attracting out-of-state visitors who will enjoy Sedona for more than one day or one overnight stay,” said Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau President and CEO Jennifer Wesselhoff. “National attention that stresses our beautiful environment and low-impact recreation aligns perfectly with our sustainability goals.”

Sustainable tourism has come to the forefront in Sedona as the community of 10,000 seeks to balance its 3 million annual visitors with its delicate environment, resident quality of life, tourism-based economy and visitor experience.

“The community worked together to forge a Plan unanimously approved by our City Council in March of this year,” Wesselhoff said. “The Plan positions Sedona as a national leader among major destinations in making sustainability the defining feature of our tourism industry.”

U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on an analysis of expert and user opinions. “This unbiased approach makes our rankings more useful than simply providing our editors’ personal opinions,” the publication states.

In May, Harper’s Bazaar ranked Sedona sixth among the “The 50 Absolute Best Places to Visit in the USA.” Sedona was rated a “Top Destination” by Condé Nast Traveler and the New York Times in 2018.

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Come Explore Jerome Art Walk July 6th

Jerome Art Walk celebrates the Fourth of July weekend in artistic style as galleries and studios open the doors for an evening of summertime enchantment on July 6th.

From the Anderson-Mandette Gallery at the Old Jerome High School to Made in Jerome Pottery at the other end of town, delightful surprises abound in this artist colony high on Cleopatra Hill. Restaurants will be offering delicious fare and the charming hotels and Bed and Breakfasts will be welcoming visitors on this holiday weekend. Cool evenings at a mile high beckons guests from the steamy Arizona valleys and lovely art is as much a draw as the respite from the heat. The town shuttle provides free transportation all evening so be prepared to park and let someone else do the driving, if you choose not to walk. With 20 galleries and studios all open in this magical town, one of a kind art is everywhere. Festivities on July 6th begin at 5:00PM with doors open until 8:00 PM. For more information visit or call Donna @(928) 301.3004.

Jim Todd’s detailed and lifelike painting titled “Waya” will be featured at the Jerome Artist’s Cooperative.

Cody DeLong will be back in his Gallery/Studio with new work on the easel after a trip to California. His Jerome and Grand Canyon paintings cover the walls of his delightful space in the Merchants Gathering building at 300 Hull Avenue, right next to the Chamber Welcome Center. Stop by Nellie Bly to see the most amazing collection of kaleidoscopes in the United States (maybe the world!). A few doors down, Caduceus Cellars Tasting Room will be celebrating their 10th Anniversary July Fourth weekend with a special tasting flight of 3 Judith red wines – grown and made here in Jerome. The Spirit Room Presents: Art Walk Saturdays with Johnny Lingo Trio. The dashing John Ziegler & bands front man has been a long time Verde Valley favorite since the days of Major Lingo. Johnny is here to stay with Johnny Lingo Trio performing the first Saturday of each month at Spirit Room 9-12. Playing all your danceable favs with their own flare be prepared to be taken away by the musical stylings of the trio. The Johnny Lingo Trio consists of John Ziegler, vocalist and guitarist, percussionist Tina Reichow & multi-instrumentalist Kirk Burnett.

The Jerome Artists’ Cooperative Gallery celebrates the second month of, “Two of a Kind” art exhibition with Mary Rochelle Burnham and Jim Todd. These two artists share a similar background in art; both having a representational style and both work primarily in oil. Mary and Jim are both members of the Jerome Co-op where a friendship and respect for each other developed as they began sharing stories of their professional careers as illustrators and fine artists. Mary and Jim will be on hand to discuss the differences in fine art and commercial art as there will be a reception for the artists on Jerome’s First Saturday art walk, July 6 from 5-8 pm. Refreshments will be served.

The Jerome Artists’ Cooperative Gallery is comprised of 37 local member-artists who work in a wide variety of media. To become a member, please stop by the gallery at 502 Main St, or download an application at Jerome Artists’ Cooperative Gallery 502 Main Street, Jerome. 928-639-4276.

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Diamondbacks vs Milwaukee Bus Trip July 21

Registration is still available for Camp Verde Parks & Recreation’s trip to see the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Milwaukee Brewers, Sunday July 21. The bus leaves at 10:30 enroute to our air-conditioned seats in Section 111, down the right field line, just a short walk from our bus. Relax in the bus for the drive home after the fun at the game. Don’t miss out, get your seats by July 8.

We have 2 other games left this season so you’re sure to find at least one you can’t miss. The San Francisco Giants are in town Sunday August 18 and our last trip is against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday September 14 when the bus leaves at 2:30 in the afternoon. Cost for each trip is $55 per person, which includes a seat in Section 111 and transportation.

Register on-line at , or the click the blue Register Now button on our Facebook page “Town of Camp Verde Parks & Recreation” or find a link on our homepage at . Don’t forget about the annual Corn Fest on Saturday July 20 from 11am to 8 pm with free admission.

Contact Camp Verde Parks & Recreation at (928)554-0828, or 395 S. Main St. for more information or reservations.

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Camp Verde Cornfest

July Means Corn Fest!

If it’s July, it must be Corn Fest time! Camp Verde’s signature summer event returns Saturday, July 20 in Downtown for its 27th year. Come to this free event focusing on the agricultural heritage of Camp Verde featuring fresh roasted Hauser & Hauser corn, as well as prepared food, and a wide variety of other vendors. The event opens at 11 am and continues until 8pm with entertainment on the stage featuring 4 bands and children friendly fun. The event will be held in the Community Center Gym and outside on Hollamon Street, which will be shut down for the event.

The Community Gym stage will feature plays and readings of children’s stories and other children’s activities, as well as music. This one day event will feature both inside and outside spaces to beat the heat and enjoy the weather. Non-profit groups will be raising funds for scholarships and other community supports including the Yavapai Rangers with their beer garden and Meals on Wheels. In addition to roasted corn, fresh Hauser and Hauser corn will be available for purchase, both at the Farmer’s Market, along with lots of other fresh produce next door at the Redinger Ramada starting at 8 am and at Corn Fest itself.

Community involvement and participation is key to this event remaining vital and alive. Volunteers are needed as gate keepers for Saturday as well as set-up help on Friday and Saturday morning. If you are interested contact Parks & Rec at 554-0828 or email

There is still space available for vendors both inside and out and non-profit groups get a discount. Local community groups are encouraged to become a vendor to promote and support their organizations. “I think most attendees would rather support a local non-profit when possible,” says Parks & Recreation Manager Michael Marshall. Booths for non-profits are only $50 per space to help encourage their participation. Visit then click on Corn Fest and then “Become a Vendor” for more info and an application. Starting at 6 pm an IKF sanctioned kickboxing tournament hosted by Golden Cobra will be held on the Community Field with a separate admission charge. This event will feature title fights between fighters from Arizona & Nevada.

Contact Camp Verde Parks & Recreation at (928)554-0828, or 395 S. Main St. for more information.

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Free Red, White and Pool Day in Camp Verde

Thanks to our sponsor, the Clif and Dee Jenkins Trust, we are offering our second FREE admission themed pool day for children 12 and under on Friday July 5 from Noon to 6pm at the Camp Verde Heritage Pool. Kids will also get free 4th of July themed items like sunglasses while supplies last and have additional activities and games, like Corn Hole, giant Connect Four and giant checkers. As a reminder, kids 12 and under need to be accompanied by someone 16 or older. This is the second year that we have been able to do this thanks to the support of Clif and Dee Jenkins.

Our next free day will be a Back to School Bash on Friday, August 2 where each child will get free school supplies while supplies last. Games and additional activities will also be available at the pool that days for patrons.

The Camp Verde Heritage Pool at 290 Apache Trail is open for lap swim 7:00 am to 9:00 am Monday-Friday and open swim is 12:00-6:00 pm Monday-Saturday. The pool is open on Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and is also available for private pool party rental Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings outside of regular pool hours. Contact the pool manager or a head guard for more information or to schedule a party. The pool is closed for regular Maintenance Friday July 12.

More information is available at the Parks & Recreation office at 395 S. Main St or call (928)554-0829.

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Camp Verde Pool Opens with New Look!

Thanks to the efforts of Eagle Scout candidate Kristjan Kilichowski the Camp Verde Heritage Pool opened on schedule with a great new look.

Kristjan, of Troop 98 in Surprise, and a part-time Camp Verde resident coordinated the solicitation of donations and organized the labor to paint the front hall and locker rooms a bright two tone blue to match the office painted last year. The addition of new custom rule signs helps makes for a great looking cheerful space!

Eagle Scout is the highest rank award in Scouting and requires a service project to demonstrate the candidate’s leadership skills. Kristjan evaluated the space determining how much was needed for supplies and developed and then implemented a work plan to get it done. Home Depot in Cottonwood donated nearly $1,000 worth of paint and supplies and ACE Hardware in Camp Verde completed the paint needs. On Saturday April 6, Kristjan with help of two volunteers from Home Depot, Sally Reynolds and Christine Adair, led his group of 9 volunteer Scouts and some parents as they transformed the pool locker rooms into bright welcoming spaces.

Previously the spaces sported their original 1996 tan walls which while clean never looked very colorful. Now the front entry, hallways and locker rooms are a festive welcome to patrons. New custom printed rule signs replaced the old faded, cracked and modified ones to help complete the new look. Some buffing compound on the metal mirrors, floor paint in the showers and bathroom stalls by the Town Maintenance staff helped to add to the transformation.

Parks & Recreation Manager Michael Marshall jumped at the opportunity to have the work done. “As an Eagle Scout myself, I’m aware of the importance and capability of these candidates working on Service projects” said Marshall. Candidates are expected to be the lead on the project and not just doing tasks. “The advantage to the Town was the minimal effort required of our limited staff to make this project a reality, and it didn’t cost us a dime”. Kristjan’s efforts will be rewarded when he is presented his Eagle Scout award at a Court of Honor later this month.

More information is available at the Parks & Recreation office at 395 S. Main St or call (928)554-0828.

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Certified Sustainable Wineries in the Verde Valley

By Darcy Hitchcock, co-founder of the Sustainability Alliance

It surprises many people that Arizona has over 100 wineries, and a number of them are in the Verde Valley. Since there are so many, why not favor and visit the ones that are certified as Sustainable Businesses? Here are two that have earned the Innovator/Silver level of certification.

Clear Creek Winery

Camp Verde

Clear Creek was the first winery to become certified under the Sustainability Alliance. To save energy, owner Ignacio Mesa uses passive solar for the second fermentation of their wines. Gravity racking (using gravity to move the wine from one tank to another) reduces labor and time significantly. He only uses stainless steel tanks which last longer and require less maintenance than wood barrels.

In the vineyard, a cover crop of vetch and peas prevents erosion and provides nitrogen to the soil. Once mowed, these plants become mulch to retain moisture. All the fish in the irrigation pond found their way from a ditch that carries the water from the West Clear Creek. “Migratory ducks winter here; they eat the moss that I used to have to dredge out of the pond,” Mesa explains. “The Canadian geese seem to have retired here.” The bird and fish manure provide high-nitrogen water for the vineyard. He’s set up a system to water 70 percent of his vineyards without electric pumps; he’s able to siphon water out of the pond.

Pest control comes with beaks and paws. Mesa covers the grapes in netting to keep wild birds away. The ducks and chickens eat insects near the ground. And Cisco and Pancho, two Great Pyrenees dogs, protect them and the grapes from coyotes and raccoons. When I first visited, the dogs had clearly had a run-in with a skunk, so dog lovers, sniff before you rush to pet them.

Reuse is part of their ethic. They compost plant materials from the vineyard and winemaking. You’ll fine recycled wood on the bar and tables. Recently, they purchased a Wine Party Bus (formerly a school bus). Cheese platters are made from timber attacked by bark beetles. “I give grape vines to artists to make wreaths and donate used wine bottles to little wineries that have the time to clean them.” He even uses the tartrate salt crystals from the bottom of the tanks for making pancakes. “It’s great with tequila too!”

Page Spring Cellars


Page Springs Cellars has long been known as a leading winery in environmental practices. All their vineyards are no-till, meaning they don’t disturb the soil, which can release carbon. Instead they mow native grasses and other green cover crops. Most of the plant debris is composted and put back into the vineyard. Because PSC wants their wine to reflect the terroir, not the barrel, they can reuse their ‘neutral’ barrels, since they don’t impart flavor, for up to 20 years. They are experimenting with adding wood slats (called staves) from native trees into the barrels when they want some woody notes.

Solar panels over the parking area currently produce 75-85 percent of their electricity and they are planning to get to 100 percent soon by adding more panels over their tasting room. They minimize transportation by only selling in Arizona and mostly through their own tasting rooms.

The winery also has remarkable employment practices. All full-time employees earn a living wage. They are encouraged to develop their interests, and the team uses a peer review process where co-workers can give one another and their managers useful feedback.

Recently PSC added an artificial wetland to replace the inadequate septic system. Wastewater veteran and Groundskeeper, Rick Marcotte, developed the system. “All black and graywater (from toilets, sinks, and processing the wine) now runs through a series of biological filters and settling tanks.” At the end, the water is passed through an artificial wetland of local wetland plants. “Guess what the containers are,” Luke Bernard, Brand Manager, asked. “Cruise missile covers!”

Make wine, not war.

Go to for the most current list of certified businesses.

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Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village

A Sedona landmark since 1970, Tlaquepaque and Tlaquepaque North treat visitors to an excellent collection of over 50 galleries and shops bordered by 5 superb restaurants. Modeled after Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque offers outdoor dining as well as events, private parties and weddings. Open daily.

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Tlaquepaque Toy Town

Tlaquepaque Toy Town offers a large variety of toys for kids of all ages. A wide range of eco-friendly, non-toxic toys, and organic cotton dolls are also on display following the latest trends in conscious purchasing to help the planet. Suite A205 ( second floor) in Tlaquepaque.

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Red Buteo Healing

Red Buteo Healing founder Jo Homar offers alternative healing including Reiki, chakra balancing, shamanic services, soul retrieval, medical intuitive sessions, psychic readings, medium readings in Sedona.

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Body Bliss Factory Direct

Walk-In Aromatherapy SPA with Foot Treatments and Massages, Intuitive Readings, Retail of the BODY BLISS Intentional Aromatherapy Products, 101 Essential Oils and Oil Blends, Handcrafted Energy Empowered Crystal and Gemstone Jewelry, loose gemstones. “Bring Sedona’s Energy Into Your Life”

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E-Bike Sedona

Eco Friendly e-bike tours of Sedona. Powerful electric powered road bikes make climbing the hilly terrain a breeze! Many interpretive stops where your guide will share info on the history of the area including geology, trail system, and more! Don’t suffer riding a regular bike, ride an e-bike!

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Sedona Mago Retreat Center

Sedona Mago Retreat Center offers 173 acres of beautifully landscaped land honoring Mother Earth’s treasures. Designed to work with the healing energy of Sedona, you can relax and rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit.

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Sedona Medispa & Wellness

Sedona MediSpa & Wellness is the premier Medical Aesthetics and Wellness Center in Sedona. We help our patients optimize their physical and sexual vitality so they look, feel and perform younger than their years. Look 5-10 years younger in a day with no downtime and results that last for years.

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Sedona Beer Company Recognized for Sustainability

Sedona Beer Company just became a Certified Sustainable Business at the Innovator/Silver level.

Photo: Vyto Starinskas, Verde News

As part of a strong commitment to local sourcing, Sedona Beer buys key ingredients from the Verde Valley. The base malt for all their beer is grown by the Hauser family and malted in the Verde Valley by Sinagua Malt, a certified B-Corporation (for benefit corporation) created to provide a market solution for declining flows in rivers and streams.

Reusable and stackable beer barrels help conserve wood by using steel for the outer structure and wood only for interior strips, called staves. Staves can be replaced individually, and can be sanitized by baking in the oven to avoid harsh chemicals. The ethic of reuse extends to all parts of the business: Cooling water in the brewing process is reused for cleaning, shipping packaging is converted to planters, and the grain station in the brewery is made of repurposed metal shelving. They even convinced Sinagua Malt to reuse their malt bags.

Employees as well as customers are a high priority. In addition to monitoring team member satisfaction and work-life balance, Sedona Beer encourages professional development by paying for beer industry training and testing.

Kali Gajewski owns Sedona Beer with her husband, Mac Crawford. A native of Sedona, Gajewski grew up in a culture of sustainability and community. Her family always recycled and composted, and she is passionate about creating a welcoming space for other young residents and visitors to Sedona: “I opened this to be a place I want to hang out.” They aim to build a distinctive local style of beer using native grains and resources – all with sustainable practices.

“I plan to make sustainability profitable,” says Gajewski.

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Participate in Corn Fest 2019

Corn Fest is back for 2019 and looking for vendors!

Join us Saturday July 20 in Downtown Camp Verde for our signature Corn Fest event focusing on the agricultural heritage of Camp Verde. This one day event features fresh roasted Hauser & Hauser corn, food and other vendors with products for sale as well as non-profit groups and a beer garden. This family friendly event is free for attendees and a perfect chance to showcase your products to an enthusiastic crowd. The event opens at 11 am and continues until 8pm. This year’s one day event will close down Hollamon Street and feature both inside and outside spaces.

The Town of Camp Verde has returned to operating the signature events under the umbrella of Parks & Recreation. After missing last year, the event will be returning for its 27th year celebrating Camp Verde agriculture and hometown fun. According to Michael Marshall, Parks & Recreation Manager, “Shifting the event into the Community Gym and using Hollamon Street for outside vendors means we can beat the heat in the AC and improve the resistance to afternoon monsoons.” This should make for a more enjoyable event for all and extend the fun and vendor opportunities into the evening,” says Marshall.

Local community groups are encouraged to become a vendor to promote and support their organizations. “I think most attendees would rather support a local non-profit when possible,” says Marshall. Booths for non-profits are only $50 per space to help encourage their participation.

Volunteers are also being recruited to help with the event. Community involvement and participation is key to this event remaining vital and alive. Volunteers are needed to help with set-up and tear down as well as gate keepers, entertainment committee help and other assistance including artists. The entertainment committee has organized a varied line-up for the Gym stage with an emphasis on kid involvement and interest. Hauser & Hauser corn will be available and roasted from a new vendor, thereby reducing considerably the volunteers needed for this event, however there is still help needed.

Booth spaces are 10’ x 10’ and indoor spaces include 2 – 8 foot tables. Spaces are $65 each with a discount price of $50 for non-profit groups. Limited electricity is available for $20 and quiet generators are allowed outside. Vendor registration forms and information can be found on-line at and then click on the Corn Fest link. Contact Camp Verde Parks & Recreation at 395 S. Main St., or (928)554-0828 for more information.

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Earth Day Celebrations Achieved Zero Waste in Sedona Verde Valley

By Darcy Hitchcock

This year, the Sustainability Alliance declared Earth Day Month. At least thirty-five different groups held Earth Day events in the Verde Valley during April involving well over 6000 people. (Roughly half of the events reported their participation to us estimated at 5924). Events ranged from the Yavapai/Apache/Camp Verde Earth Day Celebration to Sedona’s household hazardous waste collection which collected 8,770 lbs. of hazardous waste and 17,237 lbs. of electronics.

However, events can be bad for the environment if they generate a lot of waste. So Leslie Fox (who heads up the Sustainability Alliance’s Zero Waste Events program and runs the Yavapai Food Recovery Program) helped a number of the of the Earth Month events to radically reduce their waste. The industry definition of ‘zero waste’ is a 90 percent diversion from landfill but the events Fox supported blew that standard out of the water!

96 percent diversion: Yavapai/Apache/Camp Verde Earth Day Celebration. The 2nd annual Earth Day celebration held with the Yavapai-Apache Nation and the Town of Camp Verde should be voted the most improved. Last year no one knew how much waste went to the landfill but folks recalled dumpster after dumpster of stuff taken away. This year the event only 2.5 pounds of garbage to put into the landfill with a 96% diversion rate of what we rescued!

How did they do it? They eliminated single use disposable water bottles, notified vendors that everything they brought with them they would need to take away with them, and changed from a single stream waste/recycle removal system to a Separation Station to individually collect items for recycling, composting, up-cycling or returning to items to vendors, They also changed the menu to ensure minimal waste.

99 percent diversion: Taste of OLLI: The trash cans were removed from the room. Instead a Separation Station was set up and the only items we could not collect were the packaging around the tea bags that is a cross of plastic and paper. That waste did not register on the scale so this event had a 99.999% diversion rate.

100 percent diversion: Earth Day at La Ferme de Pomme Bleue. Blue Apple Farm, in Cornville asked the participants to take away anything they brought with them. A food vendor brought compostable serviceware.

If you’re hosting an event and want to reduce your environmental footprint, contact

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Chocolita Has Recipe for Success

by Jessica MacLean for the city of Sedona

Raw Cacao: Recipe for Success

Winning first place at the Moonshot AZ Pioneer Pitch event, Sarah Ann Lesslie—owner of Chocolita in Sedona—handmakes raw chocolates with wild-crafted ingredients. On April 11-13, 2019, Sedona and Verde Valley entrepreneurs competed for cash, scholarships, and prizes while working with mentors to improve their pitch and business development. What led Chocolita to this win?

Lesslie studied with master chocolatier Kelly Johnson at Chocola Tree after a cacao ceremony left her fascinated and feeling great.

“Someone told me I should meet Kelly and coincidentally he was at a small chai party thrown by my roommate the same day. That was 2005.” Lesslie then began her journey as a chocolatier.

Because her mother and aunt are diabetic, Lesslie wanted to make a chocolate that they and other diabetics could enjoy. She uses coconut palm sugar, with a low-glycemic index of 30 to 35.

“I also had dysmenorrhea, so I tried combining my study of herbs and chocolate to ease the pain. It worked for me, so I shared it with friends; they loved it.” Lesslie didn’t stop with this Moontime bar. “Some people wanted the bars without added herbs, so I started making the Nude bar: vegan, raw white chocolate that’s evenly blended, tempered, and not too sweet. I eventually added two other flavors without herbs. Dark M:lk is a vegan version of a darker milk chocolate, and Dark & Sweet is an 80% dark chocolate bar.”

Officially founded in 2014, Chocolita products are now carried nationally by over 150 stores, including more than 60 Natural Grocers across the United States, several Whole Foods locations, all four Erewhon markets, and many independent health food stores. Somehow, she’s figured out how to ship chocolate from the Arizona heat to much of the country.Her online shop is located at

Chocolitas are made at and distributed from Synergy, a shared commercial kitchen and lounge in west Sedona where customers can purchase exotic flavors.

“Chocolate used to only be for royalty because it was such a powerful food and then it started to be used by warriors. When Spaniards brought chocolate back from Central America, one of it’s first uses in Europe was blended with herbs and taken like medicine from a pharmacist,” Lesslie explained.

With the additions of preservatives, refined sugar, other additives, and heavy processing like roasting at a high temperature, chocolate often winds up in the junk food category. But when pure, it’s known as a health food.

When making raw chocolate, cacao beans are cold-pressed to remove the fat, which is made into cacao butter. The beans are then stone-ground in granite grinders at a low temperature to help preserve vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Lesslie grinds the cacao butter and ground beans with coconut palm sugar, herbs, and other unique ingredients for 24 to 48 hours. The result is a smooth texture that’s as pure as possible, with no GMOs.

Cacao contains antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, and iron. Plus, anandamide, an endocannabinoid known as the bliss molecule that also works with the food component PEA. Research shows PEA to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Using heirloom Arriba Nacional Cacao beans from a protected, indigenous tree species in Ecuador helps farmers earn a living wage. Valuable in agroforestry, sustainable farming, and biodiversity, they’re typically shade-grown and provide habitat for other species.

“An organic certifier, Stellar, has certified our ingredients organic. But pine pollen in our Pine Pollen and Lemon bar is wild-harvested. It’s not farmed, so it can’t really be certified organic in those growing conditions,” said Lesslie, who minored in Sustainability at Arizona State University. “Since the Pine Pollen and Lemon bar is more of a power bar, its name is soon changing to Power. All the varieties will eventually be rebranded that way.”

“I’m currently working on a new matcha, or green tea bar, as a sweet morning treat with just enough caffeine.” Lesslie is also planning to work on packaging and with a co-packer. Then to grow as big as possible nationally so more people can experience the true benefits of chocolate and eating chocolate as a food instead of a treat. She’d eventually like a small team of chocolatiers to make truffles at Synergy and someone to help with shipping.

“As an entrepreneur, there are small successes. Buying my automatic tempering machine, I thought, ‘wow, I’m spending nearly $10,000 on a piece of equipment’.” Lesslie’s first Kickstarter campaign failed, but her second campaign brought in nearly $20,000 before fees and fulfilling orders from campaign backers. With that and winning the Moonshot Pioneer Pitch, Chocolita is feeling the love.

“Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization offered us four workshops before the Moonshot Pioneer Pitch Event, plus the Friday and Saturday workshops.” Lesslie also appreciated the one-year access to business plan writing software. “Since meeting them through the Pioneer Pitch event, Molly Spangler with Sedona has been super helpful, Mary Chicoine with VVREO was really helpful, and Jennifer Wesselhoff with the Sedona Chamber of Commerce has been great.”

The Sedona Economic Development Department helps businesses create and keep jobs and opportunities in our community. For information on revolving loans, business education, and other business support resources, contact Sedona Economic Development Director Molly Spangler at

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Camp Verde announces the return of Corn Fest!

Corn Fest is back for 2019!

Join us Saturday July 20 in Downtown Camp Verde for the return of Camp Verde’s signature Corn Fest event. Enjoy this one day event featuring fresh roasted Hauser & Hauser corn plus lots of other good eats with vendors and entertainment. Gates open at 11 am with free admission and the fun continues until 8 pm. After missing last year the event will be returning for its 27th year celebrating Camp Verde agriculture and hometown fun. Fresh corn for purchase to take home will also return as well as entertainment variety.


According to Michael Marshall, Parks & Recreation Manager, “Corn Fest’s biggest challenge has been the hot July weather”. “Shifting the event into the Gym and using Hollamon Street for outside vendors means we can beat the heat in the AC and improve the resistance to afternoon monsoons” says Marshall. That along with a vendor to roast the corn should help to make the event more enjoyable and less labor intensive.

Local community groups are encouraged to become vendor to promote and support their organizations. “I think most attendees would rather support a local non-profit when possible” says Marshall. This event should include the Verde Valley Ranger’s beer garden as well as craft beer brewed with locally grown Sinagua Malt. Vendor registration can be done through Camp Verde Parks and Recreation.

Volunteers are being recruited to help with the event. Community involvement and participation is key to this event remaining vital and alive. Planning, marketing and organizing the events is being spearheaded by Parks & Recreation as well as a lot of logistical support. Volunteers are still needed to help with set-up and tear down as well as gate keepers, entertainment committee help and other assistance including artists. “One particular group we are hoping to attract is artists who are able to help with a backdrop mural” said Parks & Rec Coordinator Shawna Figy. “The entertainment committee will be working on a varied line-up for the Gym stage and a colorful backdrop will improve the look as well as provide a functional back stage area” according to Figy. Hauser & Hauser corn will be available roasted from a new vendor thereby reducing considerably the volunteers needed for this event but there is still help needed.

Contact Camp Verde Parks & Recreation at 395 S. Main St., or (928)554-0828 for more information or vendor application.

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Sedona UFO & Vortex Tours

I do Psychic Vortex tours teaching people how to connect with your Spirit Guides,Vortex Food Tours taking people out to our many great dining spots for a sampling of menu, UFO Tours at night with military 3rd generation night vision goggles and Ghost Tours with a Spirit box ghosts can talk thru.

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Arizonas’s Children Association Announces Kindergarten Readiness Fair on El Dia de Los Ninos/Los Libros

Children entering Kindergarten and their parents are invited to a Kindergarten Readiness Fair on Tuesday, April 30th. The event will be held at the Camp Verde Community Library from 4-7pm. Admission is free with the support of a First Things First grant, and collaborations with the Camp Verde Community Library, Head Start, Camp Verde Parks and Recreation, and the Kiwanis Club.

El Dia de Los Ninos/Los Libros is a day to focus on early childhood literacy for a lifetime of success. Parents and caregivers will be presented with activities to prepare their child for kindergarten, and given information about community resources that may support their child’s transition into school.

Light snacks will be served, and educational gifts and prizes will be provided to all participants.

Camp Verde Community Library is located just off of Montezuma Castle Highway at 130 Black Bridge Road, Camp Verde AZ. For more information about this or any other library program visit the library’s webpage at or call 554-8380 during library open hours Mon-Thu 9a-8p, Fri-Sat 9a-5p.

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Illuminate Film Festival

ILLUMINATE Film Festival is the world’s premier film festival for conscious cinema. Dedicated to spreading enlightened ideas and pushing humanity forward, ILLUMINATE is a landmark destination event and centerpiece for conscious content.

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Sedona Chamber Celebrates Earth Day with Free Reusable Straws

In 2018, The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau joined forces with the City of Sedona, Sedona Compost, Keep Sedona Beautiful and the Sustainability Alliance to launch Straw Free Sedona, a campaign that encourages local businesses and their patrons to cease use of plastic straws.

Since then, dozens of businesses have pledged to avoid one-time use plastic straws from their inventory; a small step towards a more sustainable Sedona. Initial reports have shown that since the launch of the campaign, over a half million plastic one-time use straws have been eliminated in Sedona!

To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau (SCC&TB) has donated 10 reusable stainless-steel straws to participating restaurants for their first 10 patrons!

Be one of the first ten customers at the following businesses to receive a free usable straw:
  • 89Agave
  • A Sunset Chateau
  • Alma de Sedona Inn
  • Agave Highlands Golf Course
  • Black Cow Cafe
  • Briar Patch Inn on Oak Creek
  • ChocolaTree Organic Oasis
  • Cress on Oak Creek
  • Cucina Rustica
  • Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano
  • Etch Kitchen & Bar
  • Gerardo’s Italian Kitchen
  • Hideaway House
  • Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock
  • Holiday Inn Express Sedona – Oak Creek
  • Indian Gardens Cafe & Market
  • Local Juicery
  • Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill
  • Oaxaca Restaurant & Rooftop Cantina
  • Oregano’s Pizza Bistro
  • Pisa Lisa
  • PJ’s Village Pub
  • Plant 2 Platter
  • Poco Diablo Resort
  • Ramsey’s Rocks and Minerals
  • Red Rock Gelato
  • Reds
  • Secret Garden Café at Tlaquepaque
  • Sedona Beer Company
  • Sedona Golf Resort
  • Sedona Pizza Company
  • Sedona Poké Company
  • Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa
  • Sedonuts
  • Shadow Rock Tap + Table
  • TC’s Bar and Grill
  • Thai Palace Uptown
  • The Hudson
  • The Melting Point
  • Village Lodge
Thank you to the following businesses who have eagerly jumped on this sustainable initiative. Although the elimination of plastic straws is a small step towards less waste on land and in the water, there are many more initiatives that can be put into action; such as decreasing use of plastic bags and Styrofoam containers. Perhaps your home or business can work towards zero-waste or use your food waste to compost your new vegetable garden.

Which initiative will you lead? How will you change the world on Earth Day?

Learn more and view all participating businesses at Straw Free Sedona. This is one of many sustainable initiatives forthcoming in the Sustainable Tourism Plan.


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