No. 31 is in the books and by all accounts, the weekend Butterfield Overland Stage Days celebration has been hailed a success.
The annual event features two days of family oriented fun at Lions Park, along with the parade Saturday and the professional Butterfield Rodeo Saturday and Sunday at the Arena Bar. The celebration is held annually to commemorate the Overland Mail Company and its two Benson-area stage stations.
The annual Butterfield Overland Stage Days Parade, organized by the GFWC-AZ Juniors Women’s club, marked the celebration’s official kick off.
With this year’s “A Salute to Western Movies” theme, the parade honored Jay and Joanna Gammons as Grand Marshals. The couple are proprietors of Gammons Gulch Movie Set and Tourist Attraction located off Pomerene Road. The Old West set has been the site of many filming productions.
Jay and Joanna, aboard a pristine white horse-drawn carriage, drew rave applause from eager parade spectators.
The parade, 30 entries strong, went “smoothly,” according to GFWC member Trudi Harlan, and which featured is annual assortment of mounted groups, floats, rodeo royalty, fire engines and tractors.
Events at Lions Park
Immediately following the parade, the crowd made its way to Lions Park for the car show and Power of the Past tractor pull and antique engine display, along with vendors, food, fun and entertainment.
The Benson Pony Express and Post Office is always a popular attraction with the riders departing Lions Park for Dragoon. Cindy Allen offered a brief history prior to the ride, while Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels administered the oath for the mail carriers, one of which was to abstain from “intoxicating liquors.”
The riders carry a mail pouch filled with specially stamped commemorative mail and transfer it to a fresh horse and rider in various legs along the 20-mile route.
Additionally, Arizona Justice Jail House Arrests, were a popular fundraiser, as well as new events that included Goose Flats Jail House Arrest, dog agility and Chihuahua and Weiner Dog races.
Two days of rodeo, complete with kids events, drew its usual capacity crowd to the Arena Bar for the rodeo sanctioned by the Grand Canyon Professional Rodeo Association offered the customary two days of thrills, spills, roping and barrel racing.
Coronation for the the Benson Butterfield Rodeo Queen resulted in Preslee West awarded the title of 2017 Benson Butterfield Rodeo Queen and Allison Sartin, Benson Butterfield Rodeo Princess.
The Rodeo Royalty, after a grueling day of competition Friday, will represent Benson Butterfield Rodeo in events throughout the state.
Butterfield Stage Days is a collaboration of Benson Clean & Beautiful and the Benson/San Pedro Valley Chamber of Commerce in coordination with the City of Benson.