Yuma kicks off 2013 with full calendar

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January events in the world's sunniest destination range from Old West gunfights to marathon

A Yuma Marathon runner soaks up the sun amid lush fields.

Post-holiday blues are not on the calendar in the nation's sunniest city.

Post-holiday blues are not on the calendar in the nation's sunniest city - but January's lineup of events does offer something for everyone, from those who want to learn how their food gets from field to fork, to a fast marathon that's a great qualifier for the big-time races in Boston and New York. So hang up the 2013 calendar - and start marking these dates!

YVB offers Field to Feast agriculture tours Jan. 16, 17, 23, 24, 26, 30, 31 (other dates: Feb. 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28 and March 6, 7). These trips include picking produce that's transformed into a gourmet lunch by Arizona Western College culinary students while participants enjoy a narrated motorcoach trip through Yuma's verdant fields.

For those with a background in agriculture, a special Farmer to Farmer "technical" tour is Jan. 15 (also Feb. 19). Just sprouting this year is Agri-U, a five-week program aimed at Yuma's sun-loving visitors that includes 10 classroom sessions, along with a behind-the-scenes "Feed the Nation" field trip and a culinary demonstration class. Agri-U sessions run Jan. 7-Feb. 9 and Feb. 11-March 15, with an "a la carte" option to opt into any single seminar, field trip or culinary class on a space-available basis.

Or, if you'd rather explore our fresh produce and border cuisine at the table, don't miss our Savor Yuma progressive dinner tours Jan. 10 & 22 (also Feb. 5 & 21; March 5 & 28). Info and tickets for all YVB tours are available at the Visitor Information Center, 800-293-0071 or 928-783-0071.

History buffs won't want to miss the annual Gathering of the Gunfighters Jan. 12-13 at Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park. Sponsored by Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, this competition between re-enactment groups from around the region features shootin' and shoutin' along with authentic period costumes and gear and lots of virtual flying lead. More info, 928-783-4771 or http://www.historicyumaprison.com.

Military history from another era will be showcased during Civil War Days at Yuma Quartermaster Depot Jan. 26-27. Also sponsored by the Heritage Area, this event features authentic re-enactors in mock skirmishes with real cannons. More info, http://www.yumaheritage.com or 928-373-5198.

You can celebrate the military's past, present and future contributions to our community at the Spirit of Yuma Festival in historic downtown Jan. 11-13, which honors services members and veterans and showcases present-day military installations, the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. For more info, call 928-373-5028 or email perlita.wicks(at)yumaaz(dot)gov.

Visitors can also discover the history of military testing at YPG's free Heritage Center museum from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays from Jan. 2 through the winter months (more info, 928-328-3394), or take a free public bus tour of MCAS Yuma (January & February dates TBA, for more info call Public Affairs at 928-269-2275 or 928-269-2942).

For shopping and browsing, the Yuma Civic Center hosts its annual Antique Show & Sale Jan. 5-6, the Yuma Home & Garden Show Jan. 11-13, the Desert Lily Quilters Show Jan. 18-19, the Mexicali Expo Jan. 20 and the Americana Indian Art & Jewelry Show January 25-27. More info, call 928-373-5043. Or check out the 8th Annual Woodcarvers Expo Jan. 11-12 at the Yuma Readiness & Community Center and bring home a wooden work of art. More info, 928-373-5245.

Yuma's not lacking for entertainment either. Offerings at the Historic Yuma Theatre range from the music of Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra and the Blues Brothers to the New Shanghai Circus (for fall schedule and tickets, call 928-373-5202 or http://www.yumashowtickets.com) or enjoy Bluegrass in the Park Jan. 26 at West Wetlands Park (info at http://www.landspromotions.com or 928-373-5202). Other performances around town during include classical music and a community theater production of "My Fair Lady", for more complete listings see http://www.visityuma.com/events.html

If all that doesn't leave you breathless, you're ready for the Yuma Marathon & Half-Marathon at Cocopah Casino & Resort Jan. 26. This marathon is known for its friendly, small-town feel and for fast times on a flat, low-altitude course. But it's chip-timed and certified, too, so you just may find that the fastest route to qualifying for big-time races like Boston and New York includes a sunny January detour to the border. Both races are sponsored by Caballeros de Yuma, get info or register to run at http://www.yumamarathon.com or 928-343-1715.

Sound like fun? Like the new year, the fun under the Yuma sun is just beginning - plan a visit now at http://www.visityuma.com.

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Ann Walker
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