Whether its parades, horses or car shows, the City’s Butterfield Overland Stage Days celebration, now in its 26th year, offers something for everyone.
The event, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 13 and 14, is sponsored by the City of Benson and features a list of family activities, to include a parade, rodeo, fireworks display and car show.
The Butterfield Overland Mail delivery was a stage route that operated from 1857 to 1861. Mail was delivered from Saint Louis, Mo. to San Francisco, Calif., passing through New Mexico and Arizona as it made its westward trek to California. The City’s annual Butterfield celebration is held in commemoration of the Overland Stage and its colorful history in this region.
As part of the celebration, there will be a U.S. Post Office Pony Express mail delivery from Benson to Dragoon, where eight riders will be carrying mail in three different legs of the trip. This is the ninth consecutive year Pony Express riders have been part of the Butterfield celebration.
Commemorative Pony Express envelopes will be available for purchase at the Benson Museum, 180 South San Pedro St., on Thursday and at a special booth located at the Arena Bar on Oct. 13. The envelopes will be hand cancelled by a postmaster before loaded into the saddle bags, with the first two riders leaving the Arena Bar sometime around noon on that Saturday. The nearly 20-mile trip from Benson to the Dragoon Post Office will be done in three different legs, with fresh relief riders and horses taking over at each exchange.
While the Pony Express ride is one of Butterfield’s anticipated activities, there are a number of events going on through the weekend.
Early risers should plan on stopping by Lions Park at 7 a.m. Saturday and take in the charity kickball tournament, with prizes of $100 to $500 per team.
From 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the Benson Museum, located at 180 S. San Pedro St., will have craft vendors, a bake sale, quilt show, raffle and Buffalo Soldiers on hand to talk to visitors and answer questions.
Always a hit, the annual Butterfield Stage Days Parade will be starting at 9 a.m. The community is asked to note the start time, as it’s pushed up by one hour from previous years. The parade will make its way from the staging area in the Ocotillo Shopping Center, head south to Union Street, where it will travel east. Gerald Hoskinson has been named grand marshal by the GFWC-AZ Benson Juniors (women’s club), the parade organizers. With a “Lawmen of the West” parade theme, Hoskinson was given the honor of grand marshal for his career as a long-time law enforcement officer, as well as years of community service. Proceeds from the parade are used for scholarships.
Also on Saturday, at 2:30 p.m. the Benson Fire Department Explorers will perform a vehicle extrication demonstration at Lions Park.
The popular Butterfield Rodeo, which is the weekend’s premier event, kicks off at the Arena Bar at 3 p.m. Saturday with the children’s rodeo, followed by the professional rodeo at 5. The rodeo, now in its 12th year, has been extended to a two-day event at the request of the City of Benson. The children’s rodeo starts at 1 p.m. on Sunday, followed by the professional rodeo at 2, which is sanctioned by the Grand Canyon Pro Rodeo Association,
400 contestants have registered to compete in the event. Profits are donated to All the Kings Horses Children’s Ranch and the San Pedro Family Resource Council, said Heather Floyd, president of the rodeo committee.
At 7 p.m., be sure to head back to Lions Park for music by DJ Diego, followed by a spectacular fireworks display at 8:30, courtesy of the City of Benson and local sponsors.
On Sunday, the fifth annual Butterfield Stage Days Car Show will be featured at Lions Park, starting at 10 a.m. Hosted by the Benson Rotary as part of the club’s scholarship fund, the event will be accompanied with ’50s and ’60s music by DJ Diego.