Always looking for the unusual or a new festival to attend, I drove out to Casa Grande, Arizona to see what was happening at the Arizona gourd festival. The Running of the Gourds Festival features over 100 artists & vendors, reserved classes, an Arizona Gourd Society judged art show, and of course--thousands of dry gourds for sale.
We found gourds in many interesting shapes and sizes, forming the “kindergourden,” mini “gourdster” races, and the amazing entertaining “running” gourd. There is the usual festival stuff like live music, entertainment, and great food vendors too. This festival is held in February at the Pinal County Fairgrounds featuring all gourd and gourd related items only. Each year there are more attendees than the year before; this year there were 10,000 visitors.
The Wuertz Farm sponsors the Annual Gourd Festival which has become a nationally acclaimed event featuring three days of looking, learning, entertainment and fun. We even met the owner of the Wuertz Farm and learned that the Wuertz family has been farming in the Coolidge/Casa Grande area since 1929. Waylon Wuertz said "I'm a fourth generation farmer. I started growing gourds as a young boy and enjoyed watching them grow so continued growing them after college". He started small, growing a few rows of gourds his first year, then 3 acres, then eventually grew into 27 acres this year. It’s a great inspirational story of success.
The artists that create using these ancient natural gourds are truly amazing. If you enjoy crafts, or just want to see gourd art creations that feature a variety of techniques, including pyroengraving, gourd carving, weaving, and painting, the art show of gourd creations is a wonder of talent and design. See the slideshow for photos of some of the best artwork.
There is even an American Gourd Society with 8 groups called “patches” around Arizona. They are a fun group of gourd art lovers who delight in finding old and new ways of decorating gourds. Joining the Arizona Gourd Society is really easy if you are interested. Or just start learning about gourds by attending gourd festivals or join with gourd art enthusiasts. It’s a surprising really good time!
Cost: $8 Kids 12/under free
Pinal Fairgrounds Directions:
Interstate 10 to Highway 287 (Casa Grande are) Drive east on 287 for 7 miles. Turn south (right) on Eleven Mile Corner Road Fairgrounds is 1/4 mile on the right hand side. Plenty of free parking