This week you can discuss open primaries, climb aboard trains, rock a block, meet firemen, hear a concert, tour a ranch, see musical presidents, stay away from venom, celebrate art and become a better photographer.
This column includes activities and programs in the Greater Phoenix area that have free admission. If you are looking for fundraisers, seminars, workshops, and other community programs that have an admission charge, or where donations are expected, I have a separate column for those. I call them "Phoenix Area Programs, Fundraisers & Events" and you can find those listings in my blog. They tend to cover a wider range of dates than a week, because advance registration is often required. For a long list of programs and festivals that are annual events in Greater Phoenix check the calendar.
What: O'Connor House Issues and Answers Forum on Open Primaries
When: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Burton Barr Library, 1221 N Central Ave., Phoenix
The Issues & Answers Forum will explore the positives and negatives of open primaries. Knowledgeable panelists will discuss and provide insight into both sides of this topic. The goal is to help facilitate civil, fact-based discussions for a better informed citizenry. Registration required by May 8th.
What: National Train Day
When: Saturday, May 12, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Arizona Railway Museum, 330 E. Ryan Road, Chandler
A celebration of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. Amtrak sponsors the event to commemorate that historic event and celebrate what passenger railroading has done for the country. While freight takes the majority of rail traffic, it is passenger rail travel that most people think of when they think about railroads. The Arizona Railway Museum opens all of its equipment so guests can see history up close and in person. Many of the cars in the museum are one of a kind or the last of their kind.
What: Mesa Rocks Block Party
When: Saturday, May 12, 2012 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Downtown Mesa, on Main St. between Morris and Center
Live Music featuring headliner Iration, community performances, Food Truck Alley presented by the Arizona Food Truck Coalition, Kid's Zone sponsored by Arizona Inflatable Events, Kirk's Sports Grill Bags Tournament (sign-up required), vendors, giveaways, raffles.
What: Chandler Fire Department Open House
When: Saturday, May 12, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Fire Station No. 9 at 211 N. Desert Breeze Boulevard West, Chandler
In addition to tours of the station, there will also be fire truck & apparatus displays and demonstrations, drowning prevention information, and children will get hands on instruction on how to get out of a smoke filled environment at the Fire Safety House display. Department mascots will also be on hand, and free balloons, popcorn and fire helmets will be available for children (while supplies last). Fire Department staff will be on hand to talk about the Crisis Response volunteer program, Senior Volunteer program, Fire Cadet program, and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). This open house will also feature instruction on Hands-OnlyTM CPR, which when performed by a bystander has been shown to be as effective as "conventional" CPR in emergencies that occur at home, work or in public.
What: Concert Under The Stars
When: Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Peoria High School in front of Old Main, 11200 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria
Featuring Peoria High School Symphonic Band and The Panther Jazz Band. Bring blankets or chairs and listen to these award winning bands play. Hotdogs, Popcorn and Root Beer floats are available for purchase. There will be door prizes and a silent auction as well. VIP Seating is $10.
What: Sahuaro Ranch Site Tour
When: Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 11 a.m.
Where: Sahuaro Ranch Park Historic Area, 9802 N. 59th Ave., Glendale
Learn the history of Sahuaro Ranch with a free tour highlighting the ranch's various historic buildings, barnyard, historic trees (palm trees more than 100 years old!) and groves. Meet at the main house porch and wear comfortable shoes.
What: Rock the Presidents - Childsplay Theatre
When: Monday, May 14, 2012 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Foothills Library, 19055 N 57th Avenue, Glendale
A high octane, multi-media-filled musical revue spanning 223 years of the American presidency -- from George Washington to Barack Obama. The 44 men who rose to the highest office in the land are brought to life through all-new rock, pop and folk music. Recommended for grades 2-12, audience members of all ages are welcome.
What: Habits and Habitats of Venomous Creatures in the Desert
When: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Foothills Library, 19055 N 57th Avenue, Glendale
Presented by Michael Quinlan, Ph.D. of Midwestern University. Life in the Sonoran Desert is complicated by many venomous animals, including snakes, scorpions, and Africanized honeybees. Join Dr. Quinlan and get to know the natural history and urban ecology of some common examples of these creatures.
What: Celebration of Artists
When: Now through May 17, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursdays
Where: City Hall Art Gallery, 8401 W Monroe Avenue, Peoria
More than 150 works of art by 72 artists from throughout the valley are featured. Recently, more than 200 people attended the awards presentation in which artists in different mediums were recognized and honored. William F. Martin of Glendale was honored with the Best of Show for his work "Night Class." Other awardees included the Mayor's Award to Ken Harkias of Wickenburg for his sketch "Last Barrel; Let's Go." The President's Award (selected by the West Valley Art Museum) was presented to Susan Ralston of Sun City West for her work, "Southwest City Rain." All awardees are on display at the City Hall Art Gallery in City Hall.
What: Vision Kidz Workshop
When: Saturday, May 19, 2012. Two sessions - 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Where: The Vision Gallery, 80 South San Marcos Place, Chandler
Arizona Photographer Joanne West leads students through technique and thought process that are used in creating unique photos. Registration required.
If you've arrived at this page and find that the event dates have past, check my recent blog entries for more Free Things -- I write about free things to do in Greater Phoenix several times per month. Also, check that same blog list for another column on upcoming fundraisers, walks, runs, seminars, workshops and programs that might interest you.
If you know about a free event that's open to the public that you'd like me to consider for this weekly column, complete and submit this form at least 8 days prior to the event and I'll consider it.
All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice.