By Laura Latzko
Most Phoenicians bemoan hot temperatures, not celebrate them, in mid-June. A new festival in Scottsdale pays tribute to the heat in different ways.
The three-part Scottsdale Fahrenheit Festival is Saturday, June 16, at WestWorld of Scottsdale. The Scottsdale Beat the Heat walk/run, the Travis Bagent NAL National Championships arm wrestling competition and the Arizona Ales and Cocktails Festival comprise the event.
The festival will also offer a fast-pitch competition, fire performances, hot rod and firetruck displays, music from DJ Peabody and Whiskey’s Quicker, live charcoal drawing and a jalapeno-eating contest.
The first 500 children through the gate will receive free Hot Tamales. Kids—and adults—can cool off on a five-story inflatable waterslide.
Founder Jason Rose, president of Rose + Moser + Allyn Public and Online Relations, says the event is meant to showcase Scottsdale as a destination for the arts, golfing, resort stays, pool parties, nightlife and dining during the summer months.
“We want to make a statement that the summer is that special. It’s a different time to come,” he says. “Not unlike seeing the Northern Lights in Scandinavia in the winter, come and experience the desert in the summer.”
The tribute started five years ago, with the inaugural Scottsdale Beat the Heat run/walk.
“I thought if we could do something extraordinary and prove that you could do something significant in the heat, it could convince people around the United States and around the world that you can come here and have a good time,” Rose says.
Beat the Heat challenges runners to endure hot temperatures and run or walk a 5K or 10.22K race. The race pays tribute to June 26, 1990, when temperatures in Phoenix reached 122 degrees. The race starts at 2:47 p.m., the exact time when temperatures rose to 122 degrees on that scorching day.
The first race attracted 1,300 people from 28 states and six countries. The winner was an Ethiopian Olympic runner.
This year’s walks/runs will start and end at WestWorld of Scottsdale’s North Hall and take participants on and off the property. All runners and walkers will receive commemorative T-shirts and medals. The top runners will win a combined $10,000 in prize money.
The beer and cocktail festival will have specialty drinks from local mixologists and locally made craft beer from O.H.S.O. Brewery and Distillery, the Grand Canyon Brewing Company and Huss Brewing Company. For $16, patrons receive five beer samples.
As for the arm wrestling competition, folks can quality by placing in the top three in their weight classes during one of the more than 80 contests around the country. Qualifying contestants are traveling from around the globe, including Romania, Turkey, Australia and Canada. The top arm wrestlers in each class will win prize money and advance to the world championships later this year.
Members of the public will have a chance to learn techniques and show off their skills during arm wrestling clinics and feats of strength contests.
Top arm wrestler Travis “The Beast” Bagent, the reigning right- and left-handed world champion, will compete in the super heavyweight division. He won his first national championship at age 20 and for the next two decades has stayed on top.
Growing up in West Virginia, Bagent learned to arm wrestle while working at his dad’s bar. During his teenage years, he figured out how to use leverage, timing and angles to his advantage.
“That experience molded me into an athlete who could win, even if he wasn’t as strong as his opponent,” Bagent says.
Bagent describes himself as an “outside top roller,” but he said his approach varies by match.
“It’s a combat sport,” he describes. “There are two people controlling the movement, not just you. If a guy wants to pull a certain way, sometimes you have no choice but to pull that way.”
As a competitor, Bagent hypes himself up before a match to help him compete to his best ability. He also wants to make the sport more interesting.
“Confidence is the key to being aggressive and having good timing. That is the way that I approach it, and because of that, when I lose, it’s a big deal. People are very stunned or very happy,” Bagent says.
Scottsdale Fahrenheit Festival, Tony Nelssen Equestrian Center, WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, scottsdalefahrenheitfestival.com, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 16, $5-$10, free for children 12 and under, $62.60 to run 10.22K race and $51 to run 5K, $16 for beer samples.
For more events around Phoenix, visit our events page.