Colossal Cave to host 16th Annual Ha:san Bak Saguaro Festival - Tucson News Now

Colossal Cave to host 16th Annual Ha:san Bak Saguaro Festival

(Source: Colossal Cave Mountain Park) (Source: Colossal Cave Mountain Park)
Fruit from the Saguaro. (Source: Colossal Cave Mountain Park) Fruit from the Saguaro. (Source: Colossal Cave Mountain Park)
VAIL, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Colossal Cave Mountain Park announces it will host the 16th Annual Ha:san Bak Saguaro Festival to honor the Saguaro cactus, Arizona’s state flower, and its importance within the local Tohono O’odham Tribal Nation. The annual event will take place on Saturday, June 24 and will provide workshops and activities focusing on the physiology and cultural significance of the Saguaro.  

“We are excited to host another year of the Ha:san Bak Saguaro Festival,” said Brian Held, general manager of the Colossal Cave Mountain Park.  “The Saguaro cactus is an iconic symbol of Arizona and the Southwest and we look forward to bringing the community together in collaboration with the Tohono O’odham Tribal Nation for this educational and fun event.”  

Native to the Sonoran Desert, the Saguaro cactus produces fruit that ripens in the summer months between May and early July.  The harvesting of the fruit is a sacred right of the Tohono O’odham Tribal Nation and the festival allows the public to harvest the fruit of the cactus, a practice that is not usually open to the public and is typically not permitted apart from Saguaros that are located on private property.

Guests can reserve a space for the festival’s sunrise workshop to help harvest the fruit with members of the tribal nation.  The sunrise workshop will begin with a traditional blessing and greeting from members of Tohono O’odham as well as a tutorial and instructions on the tools that will be used, followed by the harvesting of the Saguaro cactus.  

Once harvested, attendees will be able to take part in creating a syrup from the fruit which will be used in a breakfast.  The sunrise workshop will take place between 5 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. and costs $65 per person or $100 for two people.  Reservations for the workshop are required and can be made by calling or emailing Lauren Hohl at (520) 647-7275 or lhohl@colossalcave.com. Those who take part in the workshop are also invited to stay for the public portion of the event.

Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the event will be free and open to the public offering a variety of options for guests to learn more about the cultural significance of the harvest.  Guests can take a guided archeology hike, learn more about the Saguaro with physiology presentations by a local naturalist, and enjoy Native American storytelling.  Additional activities will take place throughout the event including guests being able to plant their own Saguaro to take home; take part in hands-on traditional activities including making yucca sewing needles, paintbrushes, and calendar sticks; sample the Saguaro syrup (while supplies last); and practice grinding food ingredients with traditional metate stones.  A flintknapper will also be on-site and attendees are welcome to observe as he shapes stone tools through the traditional practice as well as ask questions.  Native American arts and crafts will also be available for purchase in the park’s two gift shops. 

The Ha:san Bak Saguaro Festival will be held at Colossal Cave Mountain Park’s ranch headquarters, located at 16721 E. Old Spanish Trail, in Vail, Ariz.  For more information on the Ha:san Bak Saguaro Festival and Colossal Cave Mountain Park, please visit www.colossalcave.com

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