The culinary festival season is in full swing, and this weekend offers something for everyone from chocolate lovers to beer drinkers. Here are seven events to check out:
Corks & Cactus: This annual 21-and-over event will allow people to sample more than 80 boutique wines from around the world along with hors d’oeuvres and desserts 6 to 9 p.m. at the Desert Botanical Garden. There also will be live music and talks by winery reps. Tickets ($80) must be purchased in advance. 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, (480) 481-8188.
Festival of Pig: North Scottsdale restaurant Sassi celebrates its annual Festa del Maiale, a traditional feast of the pig, with a special five-course dinner for $55 Friday through Sunday. Choices range from suckling pig stuffed with pork shoulder to pork meatballs and sausages to bacon gelato and chocolate-dipped bacon. 10455 E. Pinnacle Peak Parkway, Scottsdale, (480) 502-9095, sassi.biz.
The Big Pour: Hundreds of beers will be available for sampling 4 to 11 p.m. Friday ($10 ticket includes eight pours), but the three-day beer festival’s main action is noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, when former “Cheers” star George Wendt will sign his new book, “Drinking with George,“ and Everclear will headline the stage acts ($35 ticket includes 15 pours). Scottsdale Waterfront and SouthBridge.
Chiles & Chocolate: Vendors will be handing out free samples of spicy salsas and gourmet chocolates, which will be available for purchase, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Desert Botanical Garden. Cooking demostrations and flamenco dancing lessons also will take place. Free with garden admission. 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, (480) 941-1225.
First Press Grand Tasting: Samples of more than 100 award-winning wines and a cooking showdown between chefs Eddie Matney (pictured above) of Eddie’s House and Michael DeMaria of Heirloom highlight the eighth annual event 7 to 10 p.m. Friday at the Hotel Valley Ho. Tickets are $95 to $125. 6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale, (480) 774-8466.
Mill Avenue Farmers Market: Although it had a soft opening two weeks ago, this Sixth Street Park market (east of Mill) officially celebrates its grand opening from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Vendors will include Queen Creek Olive Mill, Arizona Bread Company, Boxed Greens and Bobbie’s Flowers.
Grill in the Grove: The Valley’s only working olive mill hosts another of its outdoor events 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday with grilled Italian sausages topped with tapenades, chicken and vegetarian kabobs and kids’ hot dog meals. Four Peaks beers, wine and champagne also will be for sale. Free admission. 25062 S. Meridian Road, Queen Creek, (480) 888-9290.