With an official town slogan of “Where the Wild West Lives,” it’s no surprise that one of Cave Creek’s biggest events and most beloved traditions is Cave Creek Rodeo Days, which kicks off Saturday, March 18 and goes through Sunday, March 26.
“This has been a western tradition here in Cave Creek since 1977, and it’s our mission to keep it going and honor that western heritage that we came from,” said Mike Poppenwimer, Cave Creek Rodeo Days board president.
Now in its 46th year with Sanderson Ford as the title sponsor, the event will take place at Cave Creek Memorial Arena with three thrilling PRCA rodeo performances featuring top-ranking Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) contestants.
The festivities kick off at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 18, with the Cave Creek Rodeo Days Parade, where horseback riders, draft hitches, floats, unique automobiles, “rodeo royalty,” clubs, organizations, bands, trick riders, clowns and more make their way down Cave Creek Road. Anyone else in town who is not marching in the parade will likely be found lining the route in their best western wear to take part in this quintessential Cave Creek event.
“What makes this event special is that the rodeo committee tries to preserve Cave Creek’s Western heritage through the parade and different activities we have,” Poppenwimer said. “That’s what makes it exciting, because it’s all based around the community.”
After the parade, the rodeo events charge forward with Mutton Bustin, one of the rodeo’s most popular events, at 1 p.m. at the Cave Creek Memorial Arena. At this event, helmeted cowpokes ages 4 to 7 have the opportunity to ride a “wooley bulley” (a sheep) inside the arena, and hold on for as long as they can. Whether it's a one second or 10 second ride, these youngsters are in for a wild, exciting and memorable time. Mutton Bustin costs $25 per rider and is limited to 70 people, so be sure to sign up in advance online.
Then, the evening will end with the Official Rodeo Kick-off Dance at The Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek.
After everyone has a few days to recover from the kickoff festivities, Mountain View Pub will host the Crazy Horse Memorial Fundraising event Wednesday, March 22. The event is to raise awareness and assist in the completion of the world’s largest sculpture, Crazy Horse Memorial located in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The rodeo, sponsored by Sanderson Ford, officially starts Thursday, March 23 with a new event, “All Bulls, All Night.” This night is all about showcasing the Professional Rodeo Cowboys’ bull riders and bullfighters that bring fans to their feet.
“We begin the rodeo with a bull ride and finish it with a bull ride, because it’s a lot of action,” Poppenwimer said. “It’s always a crowd favorite, it’s the most exciting.”
The first PRCA rodeo performance kicks off Friday, March 24, with the second performance following Saturday and the final performance on Sunday. Event categories include bareback bronc riding, team roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and bull riding.
As top-ranking contestants from the Professional Rodeo Cowboy and Women’s Professional Rodeo associations, Poppenwimer said these competitors are the best of the best, and “you’ll be on the edge of your seat the whole night.”
In addition to the rodeo performances, there will be themed nights. Friday is the Wranglers’ “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night, a cause that began in 2004 in support of the fight against breast cancer. Saturday will be local charities night, where a deserving local organization selected by Cave Creek Rodeo Days receives a donation. Sunday is Wrangler National Patriot Day, which will help raise funds to support American military veterans and their families.
Plus, don’t miss the Official Cave Creek Rodeo Days Dance at Harold’s Corral at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 25.
Rodeo tickets pricing is $30 for general admission, with all persons 5 years and older needing a ticket for entry. For those that want the ultimate experience enjoyed by sponsors in the Stockman’s Club, limited tickets are available for $150 per person. Stockman’s Club tickets include a full dinner, drinks (hosted bar) and exclusive seating in the arena for an up-close rodeo experience. For a little more exclusivity, attendees can opt to purchase a seat on Chute 6 for $200.
VIP tickets usually sell out, so it’s best to purchase in advance. To purchase tickets, visit cavecreekrodeo.com and click the ticket button.
Cave Creek Rodeo Days is a nonprofit organization, and has donated around $100,000 to charitable organizations in the community.
“Everything we do is about the community. We donate a large percentage of our proceeds to charities in the area as well as do improvements to the arena,” Poppenwimer said.
“One of the most rewarding parts of being on the board of directors is that we give money to charities that are in need. It goes to foster kid organizations to Boy Scouts all the way to veteran aids programs. You can see the money that we make go to good causes, and that’s a very rewarding aspect of it for the community as well.”
For more information about the Cave Creek Rodeo Days organization, including details about its charitable giving or how to get involved, visit cavecreekrodeo.com/cave-creek-rodeo-days.