Queen Creek was incorporated in 1989, but it has a much deeper history.
Native American communities, homesteaders and immigrants made their home in the Southeast Valley area that is now Queen Creek, and the town provided ideal conditions for farming and ranching.
Queen Creek’s annual Founders’ Day Festival will celebrate this history on Saturday, Sept. 22, with activities like relay races, 4-H and FFA areas, eating contests, a children’s zone for kids 5 and younger, lawn games, pig races, a cornhole tournament, food and retail vendors and a sustainability zone.
The Founders’ Day Festival started in 2014 as part of the town’s 25th anniversary.
Queen Creek’s recreation coordinator of special events, Erica Perez, said the event gives a glimpse into what makes the town different.
“When council decided we were going to make this an annual event, we really started to focus in on how we could bring Queen Creek to the event, focusing on our equestrian heritage and our agricultural heritage,” Perez said.
The festival has grown into a community-wide celebration involving residents, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the Fire Department, businesses and FFA and 4-H clubs.
Public information officer Constance Wilson said the gathering fosters community pride. “That’s definitely one of the main goals of the event, to really have people get excited about the community that they live in,” Wilson said.
At the center of the festival is the Battle of the Badges, a relay-style competition with traditional games, such as potato-sack races, progressive dress, giant adult tricycle, tug-of-war, three-legged races and javelin toss.
As part of the contest, community members become representatives of the Fire Department or the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and earn points for their teams as they complete relays.
The points are marked on punch cards, which they can redeem for raffle tickets. For the raffle, vendors donated prizes, such as gift baskets and gift cards.
The competition will end with relays between members of the fire department and sheriff’s office.
The battle allows for greater engagement between residents and first responders.
“We wanted to create an experience where volunteers from our fire department staff, our MCSO officers could be out there with the community,” Perez said.
Leading up to it, the fire department and sheriff’s office made videos to garner support for their teams.
“It’s all in healthy fun. It’s not in a competitive nature. It’s really about getting the community involved and the community excited to come out and cheer for them,” Wilson said.
Those who attend can try lawn games, such as horseshoes, giant jenga, Connect 4 and cornhole.
There will be family-friendly activities, including inflatables, a climbing wall, obstacle courses, a jousting arena and a train ride.
In the 4-H Zone, families can interact with chickens, goats and rabbits. There is an obstacle course with roping and barrel activities and dog-agility demonstrations.
Queen Creek Olive Mill and Schnepf Farms are providing hands-on activities.
During eating contests, guests will try to outdo each other as they scarf down watermelon, pancakes, cupcakes or pie.