Benjie Sanders / Arizona Daily Star 2012 Tom Ewald competes during the Scottish Highland Games at Rillito Raceway Park.
Celtic pride rules the Rillito Raceway Park this weekend as the 27th annual Tucson Celtic Festival & Scottish Highland Games gets underway.
The event starts on Friday evening with a festival pub night, and continues Saturday and Sunday with two full days of fire dancing, live music, vendors and clan presentations.
The Scottish Highland Games, which run concurrently with festivities, bring in competitors from across the country. Feats of strength include the tossing of stones and large wooden poles.
The festival runs from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Pub night is $5. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $15 per day or $20 for both through tucsoncelticfestival.org online.
The event kicks off a month of festivals and other large-scale events in Tucson.
Other festivities this weekend:
Tubac’s Hot Air Balloon Glow Festival
Saturday, the skies above Tubac will be bouncing with color and lights. This is the third year for the annual event, which includes entertainment, food, face painters — even balloon rides, though those balloons will be tethered. It’s from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, 1 Ave. de Otero. Admission is $10 — $4 if you are 12 and under. Get there by heading south on I-19, taking exit 40 toward Chavez Siding Road and follow the signs. More information at tubacaz.com
Empire Ranch Roundup & Open House
Here’s an opportunity to explore the historic ranch, which sits on the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area just outside Sonoita. It’s also a chance to immerse yourself in the Old West. There will be cowboys, roping, horsemanship demos, storytelling and western music. Then there’s this: a Western Cowboy Costume Contest — with prizes for the best get-ups for kids and adults. And it’s all free. Yee-haw.
It’s happening from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. To get there from Tucson, take I-10 east to exit 281 (Highway 83) and head south toward Sonoita. At 18 miles past milepost 40, you’ll see the “Empire Ranch Historic Site” sign. Take a left there. More information at empireranchfoundation.org