As another scorching summer comes to an end, thoughts in Southern Arizona turn toward the region’s mild winter.

With those thoughts come visions of gift giving.

The Greater Oro Valley Arts Council will present a show on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 18 and 19, to provide inspiration along those lines. ArtsFest 2008 will bring together more than 150 artists and craftspeople at the La Encantada shopping center, all touting creations of their hands.

“It’s definitely an event where you can find unique gifts for someone special on your list,” said Kate Marquez, the arts council’s executive director.

Items for sale at the free event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, will include jewelry, leather goods, quilts, baskets, candles, paintings and gourds. One imaginative artist decorates bathroom scales with quotes such as “Ouch, get off me” and paints faces on shoes.

“This is unjuried, so it’s open to everybody,” Marquez said. “That really fosters a broader range of media. It’s open to custom-roasted coffee beans, custom-made salsas and items that you can purchase for as little as $5 or $10.”

While perusing handmade gifts in La Encantada’s shady courtyard, shoppers will overhear live music by well-known local musicians.

On Saturday, the student jazz group JazzWerx will perform at 11 a.m. Jovert, a steel-drum band from Tucson High School, will take the stage at 2:30 p.m. On Sunday, Mojo Gumbo will play acoustic blues at 11:15 a.m., and a small version of the Bouncing Czechs polka band, Music Meisters, will offer music at 2:15 p.m.

“You can really come and spend the day and listen to music, and on top of all the artists, you have the stores,” Marquez said.

If the thought of navigating 150 booths sounds a bit intimidating, a table of samples at the entrance should help. The samples are for a silent auction that will benefit the arts council.

“It’s our hope that 75 percent of participating artists, as well as stores at La Encantada, will have an item there, so it’s kind of a comprehensive view,” Marquez said.

As for children, they’ll find the usual balloon animals and face-painting opportunities. Plus, they’ll have a chance to try their hands at jewelry making, thanks to an arts council volunteer’s acquisition of a large supply of inexpensive beads.

In addition to being appropriate for an art show, this activity fits the venue, Marquez said.

 “At La Encantada, you don’t have the room to get as messy and free-spirited as children often get, so this was a clean activity,” she said.

For more information about the event, call 797-3959 or visit

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