Located high on Cleopatra Hill in the Black Hills — across the Verde Valley from Sedona — one will find the one-of-a-kind town of Jerome. During the fall and winter seasons, Jerome really begins to sparkle. The calendar fills up with special activities, providing a myriad of events and attractions that are truly unique, and especially attractive to an adult audience. No, not that kind of adult audience. However, Jerome was once called the “Wickedest Town in the West” by the New York Sun newspaper that, perhaps justifiably, bestowed upon it the title. Jerome—according to one local count at the time—was home to thirty-seven saloons, thirteen bordellos, and four churches. It was a balance the local population thought was just right. But no. I’m referring to that time of year after the kids go back to school, and adult travelers tend to take center stage. Not that children aren’t welcome for they certainly are; and some events will cater to them. But Jerome has always been most appealing to an audience that appreciates its unique heritage and contemporary attractions. This isn’t the home of water parks and amusement rides. Jerome, a treasured destination with spectacular views and fantastic scenery, attracts those attracted to the history, arts and culture, fine dining, wine tasting rooms and nightlife offered in Jerome. This is one extraordinary place that has stood the test of time.
To experience something a little different—make that a lot different and a lot of fun — check out the 7th Annual Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival. Named one of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World by MovieMaker Magazine, the festival features films, documentaries, shorts, and music videos. Pop-up theaters are established in a wide array of non-traditional locations in Jerome, Clarkdale and Cottonwood. These include: breweries, wineries, rustic historic buildings, mines, private residences or on the Verde Canyon Railroad, but never a traditional movie theater. This year’s edition runs from September 26th through the 29th. For details and tickets, go to jeromefilmfestival.com
Also, back in town September 26th through the 29th, will be the 29th Annual Jerome Jamboree. Organized by the Arizona Bus Club, the Jamboree brings hundreds of classic Volkswagen busses and bugs to celebrate at the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town. It’s a chance for the Volkswagen enthusiast to camp, connect, and locate hard to find parts. Details at azbusclub.org/ October in “Ghost City” is always special, as Halloween is celebrated all month long. The Jerome Historical Society stages their annual “Ghost Walk,” with on-location scripted plays featuring costumed characters depicting an array of memorable actions from the town’s long and lively heyday. This year’s 16th Annual “Ghost Walk” is scheduled for October 11th and 12th. For tickets and details, visit jeromehistoricalsociety.com/ghost-walk/
Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes—Jerome’s world-renown kaleidoscope and art glass studio—will host their annual Kaleidoscope Weekend from October 16th through the 20th. This unparalleled gallery brings in top creators from around the globe each year to conduct a series of hands-on classes that teach the art and craft of kaleidoscope and art glass fabrication. This is a truly unique opportunity to learn how it’s done and how to do it yourself! Most classes are limited to 10 people or less and typically run for seven hours or more. All materials are provided along with instruction, assuring that every participant will have an opportunity to create their own memory to take home with them. It’s always a lot of fun, and Nellie Bly arranges for special activities for registrants. This year includes Sunday Brunch at Jerome’s famed “Honeymoon Cottage,” celebrating Woodstock’s 50th anniversary and benefiting the Jerome Humane Society. Registration is via the featured artists. For further information, go to www.nbscopes.com.
Another fun event is the Jerome Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary’s Halloween Dance. This is a classic throwback costume ball, and costumes in an arts community can be genuinely entertaining creations! This year’s 45th annual edition will be October 26th in Spook Hall. There are no advance ticket sales. Tickets are sold at the door only. You must be 21 or over and ID is required. Prizes will be awarded for costumes. All proceeds benefit the JVFD Auxiliary, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization supporting Fire Department Members
Jerome will really shine, literally so, on November 30th when it celebrates “Light Up the Mountain.” The holiday lighting is turned on, and the whole town is brought to life. This is a significant event for the entire family. There will be concerts and holiday plays, readings staged throughout Jerome, and visits with Santa; all culminating with the lighting of the town’s always spectacular displays. The lights and exhibits will stay in place through the end of the year.
Of course, Jerome’s famed Art Walk is scheduled for the 1st Saturday of each month, with many galleries, shops and studios participating. It’s free, and a free shuttle service is provided.
Jerome is home to not a single chain store. However, within its buildings—many 100 years old or older—visitors explore one-of-a-kind specialty shops, galleries, wine tasting rooms, and restaurants. Touring this eclectic mountain town and realizing it was once the fourth largest town in Arizona—and home of the wealthiest mine in the world owned by one man—makes this a special destination, indeed. Make plans to be in town for Jerome’s 55th Annual Home and Historic Building Tour, the longest-running home tour in Arizona, to be held on May 16-17, 2020. For details, see jeromechamber.com.
“Ultimately, the core magic of Jerome, where the whole town is a National Historic Landmark, is the town itself.”
Story written by Tom PItts Photos provided by Jerome Chamber of Commerce