The Case Grande Dispatch reports that the second installment of Casa Grande’s Cowboy Days promises to be "both bigger and better than last year’s inaugural event," a 10-day rodeo-centered event extravaganza in Case Grande, Arizona.
The major highlight of the event is the All-Indian rodeo, which happens on February 18 and 19, the Mike Cervi Jr. Memorial team roping event on February 21 and 22, and the ranch rodeo on February 25 and 26. This year's Cowboy Days will also feature, for the first time, a parade, wild horse race and a chicken scratch dance.
The rodeo events will be held at Ed Hooper Rodeo Park on Pinal Avenue at Rodeo Road on the city’s north side. The All-Indian rodeo has been moved to O’Odham Tash’s traditional Presidents Day weekend to kick off the 10-day event. The former was the 44-year old All Indian Rodeo and festival that left town in 2010 after a falling out between organizers and the city, the Dispatch reports.
"Casa Grande stepped in last year with Cowboy Days on a different weekend in February, including an all-Indian rodeo as a way of continuing the city’s tradition of honoring the area’s four Indian communities, adding the ranch rodeo and the relocated Mike Cervi Jr. Memorial Pro Classic team roping event, along with a Canadian roping event," the Dispatch reports.
The parade will begin on Saturday morning, February 18.
Event officials are making an effort to increase the involvement of the four neighboring American Indian nations — Tohono O’odham, Ak-Chin, Gila River and Salt River — by offering to have them designate recipients for the scholarships to be awarded from event proceeds.
Making up for the loss of the O'Odham Tash festival hasn't been easy, but it's coming together nicely. O'Odham Tash was also renown for having a fantastic arts and crafts festival, which is about the only thing the current festival hasn't planned, although there are hopes vendors will come on board with plenty of artwork.
“We’re going back to where we started with this,” City Manager Jim Thompson told the Dispatch. “It’s becoming a community event again and we’re bringing back some of the roots.”
Deputy City Manager Larry Rains emphasized that the city always has wanted to be involved in some kind of event paying tribute to the economic contributions and cultural heritage of Casa Grande’s neighboring Native American communities. That was a key element when O’Odham Tash was founded, along with providing scholarships from the event proceeds.
“It was important that we not lose sight of what we’re trying to do,” Mayor Bob Jackson said. “Our town has grown, and I think we’ve forgotten where we’ve come from.”
Here are some event highlights:
A Quad Nations roping event that will showcase talent from the neighboring nations.
Ten of the top teams from the Quad Nations event will qualify for the main performance at 2 p.m. each day of the all-Indian rodeo, event organizer Crow said.
The All-Indian rodeo’s main performances both days will feature the standard rodeo events — bareback, saddle bronc, bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, calf roping and team roping.
For more information, check out the festival's website here.