In honor of the rodeo, which kicks off with the famous Rodeo Parade on Thursday, most of Tucson’s kids have a four-day weekend. Lucky for us, there are free or cheap things to do around town to keep them busy.

There are always cheap movies at Crossroads or Century Gateway, or spending the day at the park. But there are also some fun special events going on this weekend.

From panning for garnets at Sabino Canyon to a classic car show, there’s sure to be something your kids will enjoy:

  • The Rodeo Parade starts on Ajo Way, half a mile west of South Park Avenue, and ends at the north end of the Tucson Rodeo Grounds on South Sixth Avenue. Parade starts at 9 a.m. It’s free to watch, unless you want to sit in the grandstand along Irvington Road. Find a map on Page A2 of today’s Star. More info: or 294-1280.
  • Pan for garnets at Sabino Canyon, 5700 N. Sabino Canyon Road. Participants get to search for garnets in the creek. Check for the location at the visitor center. 11:45 to 3 p.m. The event is free, but it’s $5 to park. 749-8700.
  • Youth Lib Crib at Woods Branch Library, 3455 N. First Ave. Kids and teens can use laptops, play video games, board games, read books, watch movies and make crafts. 2 to 5 p.m. Free. 594-5445.
  • Teen gaming day at Himmel Park Public Library, 1035 N. Treat Ave. Teens and ‘tweens ages 11 to 18 can play Wii, PS3, Rock Band, Minecraft, online games and board games. 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Free. 594-5305.
  • Nature Stories at Agua Caliente Park, 12325 E. Roger Road. Hear an outdoor nature story reading followed by an art activity. 11 a.m. to noon. Free. 615-7855.
  • Hats & Cats, a Dr. Seuss celebration at Bookmans, 6230 E. Speedway. To celebrate Love of Reading Month, the Cat will be at Bookmans to read stories, sing songs and host a cat craft. 10 to 11 a.m. Free. 748-9555.
  • Tucson’s 32nd Annual Peace Fair & Music Festival at DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center, Reid Park, South Country Club Road, north of East 22nd Street. Peace, justice and environmental groups; live music, food, entertainment and children’s activities. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. 445-4110.
  • Oro Valley Classic Car Show at the Oro Valley Marketplace, on the southwest corner of Tangerine and Oracle roads. There will be more than 50 classes of antique, classic and muscle cars and trucks with awards. DJs and live music. Jumping castles and art activities for the kids. Food will be available for purchase. Benefits the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance’s arts programs in local schools. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. $5; free for age 10 and under. 797-3959.
  • Tangerine Crossing Art Market at the Shoppes at Tangerine Crossing, 12100 N. Thornydale Road, Marana. There will be more than 50 vendors, live music and food. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. 401-1290.
  • Rodeo Days Arts Celebration at Plaza Palomino, 2960 N. Swan Road. More than 40 artists display their work. Tucson celebrity quick draw with Star editorial cartoonist
  • David Fitzsimmons
  • Ruben Moreno
  • ‘s Mariachi Herradura and Arizona Dance Hands, and the Sonoran Dogs. Beer garden (for the parents) and food available. Carriage rides from 1 to 7 p.m. Event runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free. 907-7325.
  • Open house will be held at the Gadsden Pacific Toy Train Museum, 3975 N. Miller Ave. Toy trains of all sizes run the tracks. Interactive exhibits. 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Free. 888-2222.

Angela Pittenger, the Star’s “Centsible Mom,” shares tips, news stories and ideas on ways Tucson families can do more for less. Follow her on Twitter @CentsibleMama and Facebook at Contact her at 573-4137 or

Families and schools reporter for #ThisIsTucson. Artist, photographer, mother of one.