Arizona’s Old West is the real deal and still an important part of the lifestyle here.
You can experience the culture and entertainment of the range and the ranch at events throughout the year, but here are a handful of winter Western celebrations – held during the time of year when sunshine and mellow temperatures beckon you to spend time outdoors.
Pack your jeans, bola tie, button-down tops and boots. You’ll need ’em for an old-fashioned cowboy experience.
Riding and roping contests abound in every part of Arizona. Here are just a few suggestions.
National Senior Pro Rodeo Association, Wickenburg
Seasoned rodeo competitors don’t ride into the sunset, they join the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association circuit for cowhands aged 40 and older. Expect familiar events like barrel racing, roping and bull and bronc riding. Less known are co-ed ribbon roping and lady breakaway roping. The early February event is part of Wickenburg’s annual Gold Rush Days.
Silver Spur Rodeo, Yuma
The Yuma Jaycees have put on this annual early February event since the mid-1940s. Regional riders, ropers and wrestlers compete in a three-day affair at the Yuma County Fairgrounds. Festivities usually include a Western parade, cowboy church and a closing dance.
La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, Tucson
Also known as the Tucson Rodeo, this nine-day roundup is one of North America’s top 25 pro rodeos. As the first major outdoor rodeo of the year, the mid-February event draws world champions who compete in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). Other activities include one of the longest non-motorized parades in the country and country western concerts.
Arizona Black Rodeo, Chandler
This all-African American event features national cowboys and cowgirls competing in bull dogging, calf roping, bull riding and barrel racing. The unusual ladies steer-undecorating competition involves a woman rider chasing down a steer to pull a flag off its back. The rodeo takes place at Rawhide, a Western theme park, in early March.
Parada del Sol Rodeo, Scottsdale
Competitors saddle up in early March for the last of the big-time rodeos in the Phoenix area. Although it features a number of events, the PRCA-sanctioned rodeo emphasizes the adrenaline rush of bull riding. The festivities kick off a full month ahead of the big event with a parade and huge block party in early February.
Western Show & Sale Events
Find Wild West antiques, American Indian fine art and crafts and valued collectibles at these gatherings.
Tucson Old West Round-Up Show and Auction, Tucson
American Cowboy Magazine has called this Western and American Indian collectibles show one of the best Western events of the year. It’s held in mid-January at Old Tucson, a Western theme park and movie lot.
High Noon Western Americana Auction and Antique Show, Mesa
Mosey on down to this late-January event that attracts more than 150 dealers and more than 300 lots of valuable collectibles.
Cowgirl Up! Art from the Other Half of the West Invitational Exhibition & Sale, Wickenburg
Take the opportunity to view – and purchase – paintings, drawings and sculpture from celebrated women Western artists at this annual March event at Desert Caballeros Western Museum.
Experience Cowboy Culture
Learn more about the historical and contemporary Old West at these annual events.
Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering, Sierra Vista
Real ranchers and cowhands make up the bulk of the performers at this early-February ode to Western traditions. There’s an open session for drop-ins, as well as headline performances and after-event jam sessions.
Festival of the West, Scottsdale
This giant celebration of Western culture is held right when winter turns to spring. The four-day affair packs 25 acres of the venue, WestWorld of Scottsdale, with music and dancing, a film festival with celebrities, a trade show, extreme cowboy races, a chuck wagon cook-off, and living history activities with African American cavalry men called Buffalo Soldiers and traders called mountain men.
For More Events
Lots more winter events have a Western flair. Check our full calendar of events for Western festivals around the state from New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve.