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Man participating in the Mucking Contest, n.d.
Participating in the Mucking Contest Photo courtesy Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce

Gold Rush Days

This annual three-day festival and rodeo celebrates the mining and ranching heritage of Wickenburg. Originally a boom town, Wickenburg sprang up in 1863 after Henry Wickenburg discovered gold along the Hassayampa River. Gold Rush Days, which began in 1948, is sponsored by the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce. Held the second full weekend in February, the festival opens with Arizona's fourth largest parade, featuring 1,000, horses and hundreds of other entries, including antique cars, and fire trucks. During the parade, saloon style "garter girls" distribute garters to the crowd.

Since 1986, the Senior Professional Cowboys Rodeo, held over two days, has been a "Gold Rush" highlight. Hundreds of contestants, who must be 40 years or older, and have competed in the other rodeos participate in this popular circuit event. The rodeo features ladies barrel racing, calf roping, ribbon roping, team roping, steer wrestling, and the difficult bull riding competition. "Gold rushers" used to eat at the chuckwagon during the 1950s, but now enjoy barbecue served at the community center.

Other festival events are "shootin' tootin" Western skits and stunts, a, family carnival, rock climbing, a gem and mineral exhibit, a photography exhibit, more than 200 arts and crafts exhibits, a dance, stage entertainment, a dance, and western melodramas, which are performed at the historic Saguaro Theater. Among events that pay homage to the city's mining heritage are the drilling and mucking contests, in which contestants shovel ore into carts, and gold panning contests.

Documentation includes a festival 2000 program, photos, newspaper articles, a bumper sticker and buttons.

Originally submitted by: Bob Stump, Representative (3rd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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