Over the weekend, approximately 2,000 people headed to Northwest Tucson for the third-annual Oro Valley Festival of the Arts.

Presented by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA), the festival provided a unique opportunity for people to gather, view and purchase a variety of art.

The weekend event was kicked off Friday night with the tree-lighting ceremony, an event also sponsored by the Town of Oro Valley.

Kate Marquez, Executive Director of SAACA, said this particular festival is special.

“Oro Valley is really one of the most beautiful places in Southern Arizona,” she said. “Not many people have the opportunity to present and see artwork with this landscape. And the diversity is amazing - you can come and see Native American artwork, drums, wind chimes, watercolors, and hats. There’s really something for everyone,”

According to Marquez, the festival comprised of artwork from over 86 artists, representing seven different states including, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

In addition to the artists, the weekend featured a range of live music, as youth mariachi groups, steel drum high school bands, and all-girl singing ensembles performed.

Old Arizona Brass Band represented the military and town bands of the western frontier, and The Canal Street Band, played danceable tunes of the rhythm and blues genres.

In total, there were six live performances on Saturday, and six on Sunday, all with a focus on Christmas music.

Although the rain caused the festival to shut down an hour early on Saturday, the weather held off on Sunday.

SAACA permits all artists of any level and genre to participate in the event.

Because SAACA operates as a nonprofit organization, they do not collect any commission off of artist’s sales. They do however charge a $175 fee for a single booth space, and $250 for a double booth space to raise money for a variety of their art and music educational programs.

This year, the OV Festival of the Arts raised $15,000 for SAACA.

Marquez confirmed that Musical Gold in the Morning is one of the programs scheduled to receive a portion of the funds raised this weekend.

This program has been implemented in several elementary schools in the Amphitheater Unified School District, TUSD, and Casa Grande Elementary School District, with the intent to preserve and expose young students to the dying genre of classical music.

Schools that participate in the program listen to five minutes of a classical piece at the beginning of class every morning. Teachers then discuss the composer, time period, instruments being played, and other elements of the music to help educate students.

“In addition to providing education, the program also serves as a calming, behavioral exercise,” added Marquez.

Beyond this program, SAACA financially assists schools throughout southern Arizona who seek supplemental funding for arts, visual arts, and musical education. They work with over 2,500 local artists and musicians to cater to specific programs for schools. The money raised from this weekend’s Festival of the Arts will also go towards these endeavors.

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