Artwork, bed races, food trucks and country crooners are part of a head-spinning range of events and attractions awaiting revelers who'll stop by Marana's downtown area this weekend.
Organizer Mary Carter of MHC Healthcare collaborated with the town of Marana, Freedom RV and the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance to stage the first of what planners hope becomes an annual tradition.
"The original intent was to have an offering that would appeal to many walks of life," Carter said.
Bluegrass, jazz and country musicians will perform free shows from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, when most of the festivities will be held. Other events are planned for Friday evening and Sunday morning.
Perhaps the oddest of the festivities rolls out at 10 a.m. Saturday, when the Great AZ Bedrace for Charity gets under way. Teams will board rolling gurneys and take turns speeding downhill - then pushing them back up - a 100-yard course on West Civic Center Drive. Teams compete in several categories, including fastest time, the amount of money raised and creativity.
An array of food and art vendors will be on hand, and MHC's Copper Café, 13395 N. Marana Main St., will be open for the first time ever on a Saturday to provide another food option.
"What it should be like is a fair," Carter said. "You come to downtown Marana, you should be able to easily park and see an art show, view all of that, grab lunch and check out an RV show. And if you want a cold beer, we're operating a beer tent. There's a kiddie play area next to the stage. Music all day, and a concert at night."
Marana Unified School District students are putting their work on display in a collaborative art project called "What Do I Stand For?" The student projects, created under guidance from the MHC Healthcare Art Therapy Program, are meant to show how art can heal, teach and boost self-esteem.
Freedom RV is staging an RV show, there'll be something of a play area for adults in the form of a beer garden.
Event Chairwoman Teri Murphy, who owns Freedom RV with her husband, Devin, said she wants to show off Marana with the festival.
"The town of Marana has always had a Founders' Day, but certain people can't connect to that," she said. "The design is to be more of a regional event that gives people in the community a chance to come out and experience Marana."
Saturday night will be topped off by a $10 6:45 p.m. concert featuring up-and-coming country/ blues/rock performer Frankie Ballard, who has been signed by Warner Music Nashville. Tucson's own Cooper Meza Band is the opening act. VIP seats are $25 and include a burger and a beer.
Other festival fun
The weekend will start off Friday with a 5 to 8 p.m. art exhibit of Navajo silversmith Dennison Tsosie's work. Greg Starr will serenade the crowd with piano music during the exhibit. To RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org
On Sunday, Copper Café will host the Hogs & Cakes Pancake Breakfast from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on its patio to benefit United Cerebral Palsy.
Carter expects a festive atmosphere that's worth the drive.
"A lot of folks think it's so far, but they go farther than that in the other direction to get to the (Pima County) fairgrounds. The idea is to create a festival environment that connects people to their community and also shows them that this is their town."
If you go
• What: Marana Main Street Festival.
• When: Most events are 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Next to the Marana Municipal Complex, 11555 W. Civic Center Drive.
• Admission: Free, but some events have admission or participation charges.
• For more information: Go to www.marana.com/index.aspx?NID=1250 online.
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or email@example.com