We Ask the Industry: Tips to Get the Most out of the Sun Circuit
The Arizona Sun Circuit is a favorite horse show for many people, and GoHorseShow is always on-site to capture the fun at the show. One of the largest AQHA circuits in the country, there is a class for every exhibitor at every level.
Participants and spectators alike have been enjoying the great atmosphere and fantastic March weather at the world class equestrian facilities of WestWorld located in Scottsdale. There are three indoor, climate-controlled arenas along with multiple outdoor arenas with plenty of extra space for warm-ups.
We asked some veteran exhibitors what recommendations they have for a newbie or someone looking to explore more of Scottsdale or enjoy a new restaurant in the surrounding areas.
Juliana Arora – Sun Circuit is one of my all time favorite places to show. The stunning mountain view and sunshine at the facility while showing is hard to beat. If you have time, there are a lot of nice hikes nearby as well (at least for me coming from Texas where nature isn’t a strong selling point). There are also a lot of really good restaurants including one of my favorites – La Cucina (Italian). Usually the show staff has fun competitions for competitors, I remember winning AirPods one year.
June Liston – Welcome to Scottsdale! I’ve lived here for 30 years and If you find yourself with some precious time off during our huge, busy horse show, here are some of my recommendations of great places to eat and things to see.
While we have a zillion great restaurants here, my favorites close to Westworld are:
1. Preston’s Steakhouse at Pinnacle Peak and Pima; they also have a great happy hour!
2. Spiga and My Italian Daughter also up in the Pinnacle Peak area; for great Italian. Another great Italian place that is 5 minutes from WestWorld is La Torretta!
3. For Mexican, our go-to is Jalapeños Inferno on Scottsdale Rd. Or for amazing drive through take out, Oscar’s Taco Shop, also on Scottsdale Rd.
4. Great sushi and tepenyaki can be found at Kasai on Scottsdale Rd. They have a great vibe and wonderful food and also a great happy hour.
5. Another favorite of mine is Coconut’s Fish Cafe for great Hawaiian seafood on Mayo Blvd.
For recreation, I’m not a golfer, but our courses are some of the best in the world. Hiking here is fantastic, try hiking Pinnacle Peak, a moderate climb with a great, groomed trail. Or Tom’s Thumb, a little tougher climb with fantastic views. A little further away is Camelback Mountain; further, but still only 20 minutes from WestWorld. Be sure to take water with you!
We also have wonderful museums and art shows going on now. My favorite is the Musical Instrument Museum, known as the MIM, only a 12-minute drive from WestWorld. The Heard Museum in Phoenix is famous for its amazing Native Cultures exhibitions as well as traveling special exhibits. Close to WestWorld is Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright house, within 10 minutes of WestWorld. The Fine Art Show on Scottsdale Rd, is a great show featuring artists of all mediums. You’ll see the tents, it’s pretty much straight west of Westworld; about :07 away.
I can’t end this without mentioning a run up the road 20 minutes to Cave Creek, AZ. Lots of shops and restaurants and galleries up there, many of them are famous like Big Earls Greasy Eats, made famous on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and the infamous like the Buffalo Chip Saloon and Harold’s.
Where ever you go, I hope you enjoy my hometown and have a great show!!
Tali Terlizzi – I loved showing at the Sun Circuit. It’s definitely a must to pack clothes for all four seasons. It is usually freezing at night and hot during the day. Sunglasses and sunscreen are usually a must as well. I haven’t been to the Sun Circuit in a few years but they used to host at the show grounds the Rodeo at night on the weekends, it was tons of fun. And If you have time to be a tourist, it’s awesome to visit Sedona.
Kellie Hinley – I love Sun Circuit. My favorite restaurants include The Vig, Flo’s, Jalepenos and Oreganos. Enjoy the scenery and go for a drive. There is a great outdoor shopping center in downtown Scottsdale.
Laurel Walker Denton – In my 50 years of showing, judging and or ring stewarding at the Sun Circuit, I’ve learned to be prepared for all kinds of weather. It can be beautiful shirt-sleeve weather or bitter cold with rain, all during the same week. Bring everything you have for both you and your horses. As busy as the show is, I never have any time for restaurants or tourist attractions. I try to always make sure to walk around the barns and arenas to see all my friends. We get busy and forget to visit and enjoy each other. I want to take it all in and enjoy my friends as well as show. You have to make it happen.
Miranda Mitten – Arizona is such a fun place to show at. Usually, (I say this with caution not to jinx anyone) the weather is great. Words to the wise are to keep hydrated and have fun while you are there. Don’t skip out on barn dinners. There is plenty of great food around the grounds. The Vig is always a personal favorite of mine. If you are able to have some down time, there is a Top Golf not too far from the grounds which is always a fun thing to do. Remember, Sun Circuit is a long horse show and sitting at the barn all day every day isn’t always expected of an exhibitor. It is okay for you to step away, regroup, and enjoy the people that you are there with. Be prepared before you go by practicing maneuvers that you would expect to be in a pattern. There isn’t always ample warm-up space to lay out an entire pattern and you will feel much more comfortable once you arrive.
Deanna Rippeon – Dress in layers! When the sun is coming up in the morning, it can be very chilly. In the evening when the sun disappears for the day, it’s a snow hat and warm coat with gloves experience. Those hours where the sun is so warm and wonderful in the middle of the day make it all worth while.
Kimberly Lloyd Wright – I showed at Sun Circuit for many years so when the show got moved from January to March it grew in size because March in Arizona is the perfect time of year for anything outdoors. The weather is almost always sunny and temperatures are typically in the mid 70’s. However, a good tip would be to bring clothes for warm and cold weather and don’t leave home without your sunscreen. Since Doug Huls took over the show, it has been full of prizes, games, team competitions, shopping, clinics and more. You really don’t ever need to leave the WestWorld. But if you do want to venture off and go out to a nice place to eat, within five miles of WestWorld are some of the best restaurants in the country. About ten minutes south of WestWorld is Top Golf. A great place for the whole barn to gather for food, drinks and some competitive golf. Sun Circuit is a long show so for me staying energized was challenging. Get lots of rest, remember to eat and keep hydrated but most importantly, have fun. If exhibitors have time and are baseball fans, Spring Training is pretty much the month of March.
Kay Mortensen – Arizona will be welcoming exhibitors from all over the country in March at the iconic Sun Circuit. You will want to plan ahead. March is spectacular weather in the valley of the sun. You will want to bring plenty of sunscreen and layered clothing. We are in the desert, so temps cool right down when the sun sets. WestWorld is a large facility so bring a bike, or plan on a golf cart. Scottsdale AZ is known for its spectacular dining options. Our high end go-to steakhouse is Mastro’s. Mastro’s is located straight north on Pima and is a short seven to eight minute drive. Known for sizzling steaks, creamy mac and cheese and the infamous butter cake for your dessert. Definitely a splurge but so worth it. If you are a sushi fan, I love Pure at Gray Hawk or Sushi Brokers just off of Scottsdale Road and Frank Lloyd Wright. Both are within ten minutes of the grounds. Isabella’s has an amazing outdoor patio and a widely varied menu. The patio faces out to the golf course and is a great place to see a sunset. The town of Cave Creek is about 30 minutes to the north. If you are a live music fan all the cowboy bars have live bands on the weekends and a fun atmosphere. Outdoor fire pits, and bull riding too. To the south of Westworld is the outdoor shopping venue called Kierland. It pairs with Scottsdale Quarter which has more shopping and an array of spectacular restaurants. AZ QH always plan so many fun events and fantastic prizes. Sponsor lunches and live music from Pat James are always a mid-day treat. Keep some time to shop. Shopping at Sun Circuit is a must. Please come by and see me for additional dining tips. I will be located near the Wendell Arena with Wendy Brown and Show Me Again. I forgot to mention the golf courses. Often times we see more husbands, grandparents etc. Rancho Manana golf course is special and spectacular. It is in Cave Creek in the mountains. The vistas and views are five star. The golfing options for the non-horse show dad are wonderful.
Samantha Foust – Some tips are to pack for all weather. It’s very cold in the mornings and evenings but hot in the day. The days can be long so I love to stay on the grounds.
Ali Hubbell– Absolutely have a photoshoot with me. I’d say to eat at Mastro’s Steakhouse. It’s incredible. Pack for any kind of weather. You never know there.
Margaux Tucker – Pack the sun screen. Stay hydrated. Go for a hike. Take a picture with a cactus at sunset. You won’t regret it. If you have tent stalls consider options for how to run your electric or set up cross ties or a grooming stall before you arrive so you are prepared.
Do you have any tips showing at the Sun Circuit or places to visit in Scottsdale? Let us know in our social media comments.