BENSON — An ideal autumn day proved the perfect backdrop for the annual Butterfield Stagecoach Days here Saturday and Sunday.

The parade kicked off festivities Saturday and received rave reviews from one Maricopa couple attending their first Butterfield Stagecoach Days. The parade, on behalf of GFWC Benson Juniors women’s club, again sponsored and organized the parade themed “A Salute to State and National Parks.” Jim Hansen, longtime Benson resident and recent honoree at Kartchner Caverns State Park for having logged more than 32,000 volunteer hours was Parade Grand Marshal.

Vendor and public turnout at Apache Park where the theme “A living History” resonated with those in attendance and exceeded expectations and with the Butterfield Rodeo providing its share of rides, thrills and spills.

By all accounts it was a great weekend.

“This is a great parade… it’s really nice,” proclaimed Jane Brown, in attendance with husband, Les. “I like the turnout, there’s lots of people and the organizers are doing a really good job. This definitely is one of the better small-town parades I’ve seen — very well represented.”

Festivities then turned to Apache Heritage Park where the palatable aroma of cooking food greeted visitors, along with a full lineup of live entertainment which kept the masses beyond entertained.

Rose and Jerry Remily marveled at the turnout after cutting the rug — er, grass — to Shake, Rattle and Roll, one of many timeless classics performed by AJ’s Rockabilly. The Cameo Ladies 1800s era fashion show, Aztec Dancers, Native Flute by Danny Many Horses, The Elliott Family, Mariachis and “Johnny Bones,” of Tombstone fame and attired in his tophat and unique regalia straight out of Haight-Ashbury of San Francisco fame. Johnny, there by invitation, danced, jumped and shouted to the music, drawing smiles and posing for photos with attendees.

“It’s a great day… the big sky above is blue and I’m smiling,” he said, in between dance steps.

In all there were 35 vendors on the grounds, noted Najayya Many Horses, of the Benson/San Pedro Valley of Commerce.

“We’re very pleased by the turnout… it’s going great,” commented Many Horses. “Our hope is that all our vendors do well.. We want them all to come back,” she said, offering a shout out to the volunteers who helped and to the News-Sun for coverage of the annual event.

The rodeo drew its usual near capacity crowd for two days of action-packed excitement with the Grand Canyon Professional Rodeo Association member cowgirls and cowboys competing in the last event of the season on GCPRA circuit before the Grand Canyon Pro Rodeo Finals.

Butterfield Rodeo Committee President Heather Floyd is beyond pleased.

“The Benson Butterfield Rodeo committee is pleased that the community came out to support our event. Attendance was terrific and the caliber of rodeo contestants didn’t disappoint. Being the last rodeo to earn points for Grand Canyon Pro Rodeo Finals means Benson Butterfield Rodeo is a must-attend for contestant vying for spots in the finals, making a great rodeo for our attendees. Thank you, Benson, for your support!”

Of course, no rodeo would be complete without rodeo royalty. Andrea Murphy claimed the 2019 Benson Butterfield Rodeo Queen title and Bailey Hall is Benson Butterfield Princess. The duo will represent Benson Butterfield Rodeo throughout the next year.

Organizers say they are working building from this year’s success to make next year’s event even better.

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