Salsafest, which takes place in September, is a weekend celebration of good food and small-town charm. The grand celebration is one of the best events in the state and the biggest things to do along Arizona's Salsa Trail, which winds through Graham County in the southeastern corner of the state. Few places love their salsa as much as the small towns along the trail, and this festival serves up tasty salsa where you can pick your favorite: red or green.

Salsafest Facts and History

Safford was a natural choice to host the Salsa Fest Arizona 2011, one of the best-attended events in this part of Arizona. With a population around 14,000, the town has all the amenities to host a crowd. It's also a base for visits to the Mt. Graham Observatory and nearly 3 million acres open to outdoor recreation among the Pinaleno Mountains and the Coronado National Forest.

All year, the restaurants along the Salsa Trail serve up some of the most authentic and tasty cuisine north of Mexico. The last Friday and Saturday in September, the restaurants and amateur salsa cooks gather to celebrate Salsa Fest 2011. The first festival was held in 2006, organized by Safford's Lions Club in conjunction with the Graham County Chamber of Commerce. Every year of the festival has been successful with raising money for local volunteer work and scholarships, adding more fun along the way.

Salsa is the centerpiece of the celebration held in Safford's town square, which is seen with cooking contents and dancing. You can join in the fun with the salsa eating contest or grab something great to eat. The festivities also include live music and the one-of-a-kind chihuahua races. On the Friday night before the Saturday start of SalsaFest 2011, there's some really cool nightlife. A balloon glow lights up the night. Early on Saturday morning, balloons will lift off to soar through the Arizona skies.

Tickets to Salsa Fest Arizona

The festival is a fundraiser for the local community, so any tickets and entry fees help make Safford a better place to live and vacation. A small entry fee is charged to get in the gates, and some of the events require an extra fee, especially if you're planning to do some eating.

Directions to Salsafest

The friendly town of Safford is location at the junction U.S. Highway 191 and 70, 30 miles north of Interstate 10. Phoenix, to the northwest is three-plus hours away along I-10. You could head east on Highway 60 and catch Highway 70 in Globe. If you'd prefer to take the interstate, you could head south on I-10 and take Highway 191 north.

From Tuscon, it takes about two hours to make the trip to Safford and Salsafest. Take I-10 to the east and catch 191 north. Once you get to town, you can follow the signs and head into the heart of Safford.

Lodging near Salsafest

Safford and surrounding Graham County are home to an wide range of accommodations that will suit all types of travelers and budgets. Several RV parks are nestled in some truly scenic settings in the Gila Valley, as are same cabins and comfortable bed and breakfast inns. You'll also find plenty of Arizona hotels where that will take your reservations.

Traditional accommodations are available at the Comfort Inn & Suites on 450 Entertainment Avenue in the heart of Safford. The 88 guestrooms were designed for guests' comfort with 32-inch flat-screen TVs and in-room coffee service. Guests are treated to free Wi-Fi and a hot breakfast in the morning. Of course, since this is Arizona, take note that hot means warm—you'll find plenty of spice later in the day at Salsa Fest Arizona.

Another option for Salsafest hotels, the Quality Inn & Suites at 420 E. Highway 70, offers 102 guestrooms and a location close to downtown Safford. Guests are treated to a full breakfast in the morning as well as high-speed Internet access and a newspaper. The hotel also has an indoor heated pool and an exercise room.

Image: azcomgroup (flickr)
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