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Date(s) - 11/26/2016
6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Old Tucson


23rd Waila Festival to Be Held at Old Tucson!

Imagine being under a star-studded, jet black Southern Arizona sky with only a single light bulb hanging on a pole in the dance floor center pushing back the darkness. The crisp evening air accentuates the mouth-watering aroma of food cooking over sweet-smelling mesquite fires. You are surrounded other community members—coyotes, rattlesnakes, majestic 40-foot saguaros, and cholla cacti—making the tohono (desert) feel so alive and exhilarating. Seated on benches surrounding the dance floor are anxious O’odham of all ages. The first tune begins and the dancers circle the dirt floor in a counter-clockwise motion. Throughout the night until sunrise, the band will provide polkas, schottisches, and mazurkas for The People’s dancing and listening enjoyment. The piest (fiesta) has begun!

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The 23rd Waila Festival takes place on Saturday, November 26, 2016 at Old Tucson from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. In addition to music by the Waila Festival Band, booths offering dishes featuring popular desert foods and barbeque will be on the festival grounds. Admission is $10 per person.

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Old Tucson and the Arizona Sonora Western Heritage Foundation have partnered to present what has become a Tucson tradition–the one night of the year dedicated to honoring the O’odham social dance music, its performers, and its dancers. The sharing of this musical genre brings the Tohono O’odham and their Tucson and Southern Arizona neighbors together for a vital community-building occasion. Everyone leaves with a greater appreciation for the unique richness of life in the desert and for their fellow residents.

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This is also the 30-year anniversary of the tribe’s assertion of its sovereignty by revising its name. The Spaniards referred to the residents of this area as “Papagos.” In May 1986, the tribe voted to reclaim its identity and changed the official title of “Papago Tribe of Arizona” to the “Tohono O’odham Nation.”  In celebration, The Waila Festival Band will offer polkas, schottisches, and mazurkas from that era.

Put on your dancing shoes, slip on a jacket, pack your folding chair, and join us. To be surrounded by open desert and under a starry sky, the Old Tucson setting will allow non-O’odham to undergo as close an experience to attending an all-night dance on the Tohono O’odham Nation as possible. In turn, O’odham tribal members will likely be transported to some wonderful memories of their youth. See you on Thanksgiving weekend!

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