CASA GRANDE — Casa Grande Cowboy Days and O’Odham Tash, the community’s annual celebration of the western lifestyle, culture and heritage, gets underway in mid-February with two weeks of events and activities.
Events open on Friday, Feb. 14, with breakaway and tie-down roping at Ed Hooper Rodeo Park, 201 W. Rodeo Road.
The O’Odham Tash parade, the official kickoff event, begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, in downtown Casa Grande.
Featuring marching bands, horses, cowboys, Native American royalty, dancers, mounted groups, vintage vehicles and other entries, the annual parade is a nod to local history and culture.
Every year, two grand marshals are chosen to lead the procession. One represents the cowboy culture and the agricultural community while the other represents one of the four area Native American nations.
It usually includes more than 50 entries from around the state representing about 30 different tribes and Native American royalty.
The parade will start at Brown Avenue and travel west along Florence Boulevard to Florence Street. Those interested in being in this year’s parade may contact the Casa Grande Recreation Office at 520-421-8677, ext. 4561 or email CommunityServices@CasaGrandeaz.gov.
Following the parade, activities continue at the rodeo grounds with the O’Odham Tash Rodeo opening at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, and Sunday, Feb. 16.
A Southwest Indian Rodeo Association event, it attracts all-Indian contestants from throughout the region who compete in traditional rodeo events ranging from bull riding to calf roping and bareback riding.
Native American dancing and other cultural events will be featured at the rodeo.
The two-day Mike Cervi Memorial roping competition, which attracts pro ropers from around the country, starts at noon on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
The competition is named in honor of Mike Cervi Jr., a professional roper who died in a plane crash in Wisconsin in 2001.
Competition continues at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
The Ranch Rodeo begins at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, and Sunday, Feb. 23.
A different type of rodeo, the ranch rodeo puts into competition the various jobs cowboys tend to perform on a working ranch.
Events include trailer loading, calf-branding (with paint) and wild cow milking.
The Exceptional Rodeo, in which the Central Arizona College rodeo team offers rodeo-style events to children with learning, behavioral or physical disabilities, is on Feb. 21.
The annual Pony Express ride is held in early February, prior to the opening of the event. Riders on horseback will personally deliver formal invitations from the mayor of Casa Grande to several neighboring dignitaries.
Native Americans will compete in the traditional game toka and in a softball tournament. A carnival will be set up near the rodeo grounds.
For more information about events, or to inquire about taking part in various activities, visit the Casa Grande Cowboy Days and O’Odham Tash website at casagrandecowboydays.com.