For residents of Oro Valley, Catalina State Park has long stood as one of the area’s greatest focal points. With management for the park incorporated in 1974—the same year as Oro Valley’s founding—it has acted as a pillar for family entertainment in the north Tucson area going on over 40 years as a place for recreation of all sorts: biking, camping, horseback riding and beyond.
For its over four decades in operation, the park has done an upstanding job in embracing traditions common of national parks throughout the world, from preserving nature to hosting outdoor hiking trails and encouraging campouts under starry Arizona skies. What recent years have proven for the parks, though, is that even old dogs truly are capable of new tricks.
With a little help from their associates at the non-profit organization Friends of Catalina State Park, the park has decided on bringing an innovative twist to stand amongst its more traditional proceedings. It is now hosting Saturday concert series, with the events specifically being hosted not too far into the park, all amidst a gorgeous setting of the trees, cacti, flowers and medley of desert wildlife for which the establishment has become renowned.
Iterating his thoughts on the series and assisting the Catalina State Park rangers in organizing their Saturday Concerts-in-the-Park, FCSP president and secretary Richard Boyer said, “Friends of Catalina State Park has been involved with notices to our 300 contacts about the Concerts-in-the-Park, and the concerts have been a great hit with visitors and locals alike. The outdoor setting at the trail head stage in the park is beautiful and the Catalina Mountains provide a stunning backdrop.”
When asked about the attraction to the series for performers and attendees alike, Boyer said, “It appears to me—and I have attended almost every concert since they started a few years ago—that the concerts enhance the park experience by providing a different experience for those attending, rather than the usual hiking, biking, or running. It is a relaxing event for those attending, providing a variety of musicians at each concert. Musicians love coming to the park and many artists are already scheduled through 2017.”
“Folks attend, often bringing friends and pets and food to enjoy the free entertainment,” he says with a smile. “Obviously, the park benefits through increased visitation, and through funds brought in at the entrance station. Mostly, though, I believe that the park benefits by having those attending experience a relaxing evening and a variety of music in a different kind of outdoor setting than they might be used to with other concerts around Tucson.”
During a recent show held as part of the ongoing Saturday Concerts-in-the-Park series at Catalina State Park, bluegrass-pickin’ park mainstays, the Saguaro Sunset Trio, brought a crowd of 200-strong to their feet in rousing applause in-between each of their individual performances. With crisp weather on the horizon for Tucson, the park will likely see an attendance boom during their springtime shows, which are held two Saturdays a month as opposed to the usual one.
Concerts are for all ages, pet friendly, and are free upon park admission—which is $7, cash only—for a day pass. Concert attendees are encouraged to bring their own foldable chairs for seating, as well as their own bottled water. Furthermore, the Friends of Catalina State Park are present at every event to offer free popcorn to all attendees.
Though the FCSP has less to do with the actual planning for these concerts, including booking the events—all of which goes to the Catalina State Park rangers—they do assist in providing a place to showcase upcoming events on their handy website, www.friendscsp.org. Readers are encouraged to visit the ‘Future Events’ page on the FCSP website for any further information on upcoming shows. For more information on Catalina State Park itself, readers are encouraged to visit www.azstateparks.com/catalina