Verrado sleighs Hometown Holidays

BUCKEYE, Ariz. –  Of all the holiday events this month in Arizona, one event sleighed the season with their hometown feel and generous giving.

Verrado had its 13th annual Hometown Holidays celebration over the weekend, and people came from all over the valley to join. Kids enjoyed the lights, adults enjoyed the drinks and everyone enjoyed the towns’ tradition of caramel kettle corn.

Every year there are dozens of holiday celebrations throughout the state, but this one is special because a portion of the proceeds from the event goes to support Arizona’s Homeless Youth Connection.

Trisha Madrid, a photographer and Verrado resident for over 12 years, says she’s thankful to have raised her own children in such a close-knit, giving community.

“I started working here in January of 2004 when we opened our doors. So I’ve been here every single Hometown Holidays since inception. I look back and I’m like, ‘Wow, it’s crazy that we got to raise our children in a community like this.’”

At 8 o’clock, friends gathered around the 50 foot tree to watch the lighting. The event also featured cookie decorating stations, a snow area for kids, music entertainment and of course, Santa Claus.

To find out more about Verrado’s “Joy of Giving” charitable efforts, visit

Does going to office hours make a difference in your grade?

PHOENIX, Ariz.- As the semester draws to a close, students are doing whatever they can to get their grades up.

Lerman Montoya, a sophomore at ASU, says,”I usually go to office hours at the end of the semester when I’m like, ‘Oh I should get this grade up’ so I talk to my professor.”

With a full work and school schedule, Montoya says he does not normally have time to visit with his professors.

“I don’t even have time to eat most of the time,” he said.

Criminal Justice Professor and AZ Representative, Bob Robson says he thinks more students should be taking advantage of office hours, not just as final exams approach. He says professors will work with their students’ schedules to help them out.

“People want to help people, and professors want to help their students as well. A lot of times students don’t realize that,” Robson said.

Even for students who feel their grades are “just fine”, Robson says there is value in getting insight on performance. He enjoys learning about students’ personal goals and aspirations, and often helps his students get internships and jobs after graduation.

Lauren Barnes, a sophomore honors student says even though she’s a confident student, going to office hours helped her get clarity on assignments. “Even though I can figure out things by myself, knowing [my professors] want things a certain way releases stress for me. Then I know, this is exactly how it should be.”

Professor Robson encourages students to get their work done early and ask for guidance along the way, in order to stay sane during finals.

AZ Taco Festival: Everything from chihuahua beauty to taco-eating contests


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Aside from the obvious reasons to attend a taco festival, you might be interested in watching, or even competing in one of the many competitions held at the event.

This year’s taco festival brought in thousands of attendees and throughout the weekend visitors could watch or participate in various competitions. Both people and dogs competed to see who was the best at the taco festival.

One competition, held on Sunday, was the Chihuahua Beauty Pageant. Twelve dogs dressed in their best tried to impress the audience and judges. After much deliberation, Blueberry, the rescue dog was named Miss Chihuahua Beauty.

Blueberry’s owner, Cynthia Lim said she brainstormed different taco ideas for the costume. “You know so they’re judged on their taco spirit. And I was just trying to think of types of tacos she could be and I thought well, I could make her a fish taco.”

One hundred percent of the proceeds went to AZ Chihuahua Rescue.

Later that day, on the very same stage, the festival held a taco-eating competition.

On the count of three, competitors ate five tacos as quickly as they could. Panch Honne was the first to finish, and was rewarded with a medal and bragging rights.

“I didn’t believe I won… I was full and it was hurting my stomach so I was like let’s get this over with.”

So who will be named next year’s champions? It could be you!

This scene is heating up in Arizona

PHOENIX, Ariz. – We are becoming one of the most promising states for fashion and entertainment. With events like Phoenix and Tucson Fashion Week on the horizon, agencies like Ford Robert Black Agency in Scottsdale are working to get their models and talent booked.

Preparing for these events includes lots of walking practice, ordering comp cards and shooting with photographers statewide.

In years past, Arizona has not been a popular destination for clients to work out of-especially compared to other states like New York and California. However, recently agents have noticed an increase in clientele. More and more, big-named clients are coming to the valley to shoot their TV shows, commercials and photoshoots. But why?

“More than anything, we have great weather,” Matt Englehart, talent agent at Ford RBA, said. “We don’t have the smog you’re contending with. We do have some great support people here as well. The permit fees are considerably lower.”

While Phoenix still has a way to go before rivaling cities like NYC and LA for the entertainment limelight, the “small market feel” helps small business owners like Morgan Teresa to grow their networks.

“I definitely think that I’ve made some good connections here…about half of my business comes from referrals,” Teresa said.

For Teresa, those referrals and friends make working in a growing market all worthwhile.

“I love to come home from LA and New York and be like ‘I have my friends. I have my people I care about.'”