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Spring is festival season in the Verde Valley.

Beginning with the Sedona Marathon and Camp Verde’s Pecan, Wine & Antique Festival in early February, the season hits full steam after the Sedona International Film Festival with events including History of the Soldier and Verde Valley Archaeology Fair in Camp Verde; the Gem & Mineral Show, Arizona Flywheelers Show and Brian Mickelsen Memorial Run in Cottonwood; and St. Patrick’s Parade & Festival, the Celebration of Spring and Tlaquepaque’s Pet-A-Walkie in Sedona.

News Editor Christopher Fox GrahamThe Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival and Earth Day celebrations take place all over the Verde Valley.

Some residents still view the Verde Valley as the three big communities — Camp Verde, Cottonwood and Sedona — with a number of satellites — Jerome, Clarkdale, the Village of Oak Creek, Cornville and Rimrock — sharing a sometimes uneasy alliance due to geography, state highways and water issues. Festivals have always been a common ground to erase the divide.

Even though some longtime residents of the big three have their own views of each other, the truth is Verde Valley communities are more connected than not when it comes to their culture and social heritage.

Residents of one community may work in another and shop in a third. People often move from one town to another as jobs change.

While we have three newsrooms, one in each community, the relatively small staff at our main newsroom in Uptown come from all over the Verde Valley. Businesses with hundreds of employees like the Sedona resorts, Cliff Castle Casino and Verde Valley Medical Center are even more blended.

Arizonans in Phoenix and Tucson often drive an hour or more to work, shop or play, but sometimes people in the Verde Valley view the seemingly impossible distance — of up to 30 or 40 minutes — as too far. Yet increasingly more people often make the commute across the Verde Valley to work or to see family, and the cultural split between one town and another is not quite what it used to be.

While regularly visiting another town may not be economically feasible, attending another town’s festival is well worth the effort. We regularly run a list of Upcoming Events on Page 2A, showing the dates of future events from around the Verde Valley. Usually we have a story or press release previewing the events somewhere in the paper so our readers have the details and can plan to attend. Big events run through May and June before tapering off in July.

As you make plans to enjoy the weather and  head off to your regular festivals, resolve to attend at least one festival you’ve never been to in another town. It could very well become your new favorite.

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