They travel from the north, south, east and west. They come from far away and from just down the road. Every year, thousands of people from all over the country travel to Wickenburg to celebrate the historic town’s rich mining and ranching heritage at Gold Rush Days. This year is especially significant for Gold Rush Days, as it’s the 70th anniversary of the event — as well as Wickenburg’s 155th birthday.
The four-day event, running February 8-11, is jam-packed with a variety of Western-themed activities and performances, both free and paid.
The festivities kick off Thursday, February 8, with a Wickenburg history exhibit at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, a carnival and a performance by the 3 Red Neck Tenors.
The rest of the weekend, eventgoers can check out the classic-car show on Frontier Street, wander around the arts and crafts fair at the Wickenburg Community Center, watch mining contests or catch one of the melodrama performances at the historic Saguaro Theatre.
Year after year, the most popular of the many Gold Rush Days events are usually the parade and the rodeo, said Julie Brooks, executive director of the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce.
This year’s parade, recognized as the fourth-largest in Arizona, will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. and will feature close to a thousand horses. The parade’s theme is “Ropin’ the West,” and the grand marshal will be Cody Custer, a Pro Rodeo Cowboy Association world champion.
The Senior Pro Rodeo Slack will take place Friday, February 9, at 11 a.m., and the Senior Pro Rodeo will be on Saturday and Sunday, February 10 and 11, at 2 p.m. Both will be held at the Everett Bowman Arena.
Admission to most of the activities are free, but tickets must be purchased for the rodeo, the melodrama and the Thursday and Friday night concerts. You can pay at the gate, but it's recommended that you purchase tickets in advance online, at www.outwickenburgway.com.
Those who live in Arizona’s fourth-oldest town seem to always look forward to Gold Rush Days because they’re able to show off not only the town’s long-standing traditions, but also all the other great things Wickenburg has to offer, Brooks said.
“The whole town is very thrilled with this signature event, because it’s a wonderful time in Arizona, weather-wise, and there’s a number of things that visitors can do besides all the things that are a part of our schedule of activities,” she said.
“We have local restaurants, hiking trails, a beautiful Western museum, concerts at the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts and horseback riding. They can do a lot of things during that weekend that would bring them to stay a little longer than just for the special event,” she added.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary, a limited-edition poster was designed by Maverick Engelhart. You can buy one, or learn more about Gold Rush Days, by contacting the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce. at www.wickenburgchamber.com or 928-684-5479.
Find a full schedule of events and ticket prices at www.outwickenburgway.com.
— Emily Balli