High summer's heat barely slows the action in Cerca Country, as residents celebrate Independence Day, wildflower season, and anything else that will serve as an excuse to party. You're welcome to attend your choice of all these.

Monday through July 4, Prescott, Ariz.: Prescott Frontier Days, World's Oldest Rodeo. Prescott's largest annual event, now in its 123rd year, features rodeo performances, parade, fireworks, fine arts and crafts fair, dance and live entertainment. (800) 358-1888. www.

Monday through Sept. 4, Cedar City, Utah: Utah Shakespearean Festival. Plays include "Much Ado About Nothing," "The Merchant of Venice," "Macbeth," "Great Expectations," "Pride and Prejudice" and Alfred Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps." (435) 586-7878,

Thursday through July 31, Reno: Artown. This art festival features more than 400 events. Artists from around the world will showcase their talents in the visual and performing arts and humanities. Various venues. (775) 322-1538.

Friday through July 4, Elko: National Basque Festival. Now in its 47th year, event features traditional Basque dance, music, food and Old Country games such as handball, weightlifting and woodchopping. Elko Basque Club and other venues. (775) 738-7135.

Friday through July 18, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah: Wildflower Festival. Take part in guided hikes, workshops and kid's scavenger hunts. (435) 586-9451.

Saturday and July 4, Flagstaff, Ariz.: Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture. Hopis sell their wares at more than 55 booths and show their skilled techniques in a variety of media. Storytelling, music, dancing and American Indian food. Museum of Northern Arizona. (928) 774-5213,

July 4, Big Bear Lake, Calif.: Big Bear Fireworks Show. Largest 4th of July fireworks display in Southern California can be viewed from anywhere on or along the lake and from most of the town. The fireworks will be discharged from a barge near Pine Knot Landing. (909) 866-4607.

July 4, Caliente: Independence Day Celebration starts with Fireman's Breakfast, followed by a parade, then afternoon activities of children's games and a watermelon bust. There will be a fireman's grudge match and then a fireworks show that evening. Activities take place at Rose and Dixon Parks. (877) 870-3003. www.

July 4, Laughlin: Rockets over the River. A spectacular 20-minute fireworks display launched over the Colorado River and choreographed to music on a high-fidelity sound system. (702) 298-2214.

July 4, Clarkdale, Ariz: Independence Day celebration built around scenic and historic Verde Canyon Railroad. Pancake breakfast T 7 a.m. followed by children's parade at 9 a.m. and barbecue at railroad station at 11 a.m. Firecracker Express pulls out at 1 p.m., returns 5 p.m. For reservations, call (800) 293-7245 or visit

July 8, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah: Wildflower Photography. Join photographer Michael Plyler for a day learning the best way to photograph the park's stunning wildflower displays. Plyler will discuss capturing the big vistas versus the close-up shots. Reservations necessary. Zion Canyon Field Institute. (800) 635-3959.

July 8, 10 and 12, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah: Star Parties. Park staff and astronomy volunteers conduct these events featuring telescopes set up to view the night sky. The program starts at the park's visitor center, then heads out to Point Supreme. (435) 586-9451.

July 9, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah: Wildflower Journaling. Instructor Sandy Bell will show ways to record your experiences. No prior writing or drawing experience required. Tools, materials and methods of writing will be covered. Reservations necessary. Zion Canyon Field Institute. (800) 635-3959.

July 9 through Aug. 22, Lake Tahoe: Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. This year's play is "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)." The festival also offers a Monday and Friday night music series featuring classical, blues, jazz, rock and more. Sand Harbor State Park. (775) 832-1616.

July 10-11, Big Bear Lake, Calif.: Big Bear Paddlefest features clinics and races for kayaks and canoes on Big Bear Lake's north shore. Open to all levels of paddlers and features a 10K and 30K paddle race on Sunday morning. Various venues. (909) 866-3414. www.bigbearpaddlefest. com.

July 10, Cedar City and Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah: Cedar Mountain Wildflowers. Botanist Doug Reynolds leads tour from Cedar City through many life zones to Cedar Breaks. Reservations necessary. Zion Canyon Field Institute. (800) 635-3959.

July 15-Aug. 14, Cedar City, Utah: Neil Simon Festival. Plays are "California Suite," "Steel Magnolias" and "Broadway Bound." Tuesdays through Saturdays with matinee and evening performances. Cedar City Heritage Theater. (866) 357-4666.

July 15-17, Boulder, Utah: Boulder Heritage Festival celebrates community's arts, crafts, music and history. Takes place at Anasazi State Park, a treat in itself, where the first known inhabitants of this area lived. (435) 335-7550.

July 17, Big Bear Lake, Calif.: Big Bear Lake Chili Cook-Off. More than 30 cooks with 80 vendors. Children enjoy games and bounce houses. Bartlett Road parking lot. (909) 866-4607.

July 17, Bryce Canyon, Utah: Bryce Canyon ½ Marathon and 5K Run. The marathon travels from Ruby's Inn in Bryce Canyon to National Scenic Byway 12, then through Tropic, and ends in Cannonville. The 5K starts and finishes in Cannonville. (800) 444-6689.

Aug. 1-8, Reno and Sparks: Hot August Nights. Relive the '50s and '60s, when cars and rock 'n' roll ruled. "Rides" registered by thousands from across the nation. Controlled cruises, show 'n' shines. Live entertainment and food. (775) 356-1956.

Aug. 7-8, Flagstaff, Ariz.: Navajo Festival of Art and Culture at Museum of Northern Arizona. Learn about the Dine' Culture including Navajo weaving and the importance of the Navajo Code Talkers. Entertainment and activities for children.(928) 774-5213.