Rawhide celebrates 40 years this weekend - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Communityevents

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Rawhide celebrates 40 years this weekend

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Posted: Saturday, February 12, 2011 3:30 pm

Rawhide is gearing up for an entire

weekend packed with original Westernstyle

attractions to commemorate its

40th birthday this Saturday, Feb. 12

through Sunday, Feb. 13.

Live bull riding, a pie-eating

contest and an abundance of Western

reenactment groups will be unique to

this weekend’s celebration. Rawhide also

plans on unveiling its new theater, Spirit

of the West, especially for the occasion.

The usual festivities of gun shows,

gold panning, burro rides, live music and

more will be among the additions special

to the weekend. All attractions during

the birthday weekend celebration are


Barry Nelson, director of operations

at Rawhide, described the weekend’s

events as “wall-to-wall entertainment

wherever you go.”

Ever since its 1971 grand opening in

Scottsdale, Rawhide has maintained its

authentic Western roots in the legend of

Charles “Rawhide” Rawley. The tall tale

illustrates a time when a group of settlers

migrated west and established the town

of Rawhide in the Gila River Valley.

Rawhide’s devotion to this legend

enhances the overall experience for


“You’re really going to get the taste for

Rawhide and the 1880s,” Nelson said.

Nelson and General Manager Brian

Crum have been collaborating in the

entertainment business for 15 years and

find that Rawhide is unlike any previous

venture. They see a promising future for

the attraction.

The 40th birthday is just one of the

first events the duo plans on utilizing to

expand Rawhide’s popularity.

The Travel Channel has already begun

filming a 13-week mini-series, “Road to

Rawhide,” at Rawhide’s location on the

Gila River Indian Community. Nelson

said they are also using nine promotional

radio stations to help Rawhide become

broadly recognized.

“Within six weeks, everyone will know

what Rawhide is,” he said.

For some families living outside of

Arizona, however, Rawhide’s reputation

has reached halfway across the nation.

Mark and Teri Reitz of Minnesota

recently made a stop at Rawhide with

their three daughters.

The affordability of Rawhide was not

the only factor that appealed to them.

“Just the old town, the dirt floor, the

guns and just the whole town,” Mark

Reitz said as he gazed up and down

Main Street. “There’s not too many left


Although this birthday weekend

attractions will be free to guests, the

regular prices at Rawhide are reasonable.

Each attraction is $5 with the option

of buying a day pass with access to all

attractions for $15 per person.

More than anything, Nelson

emphasized that, “It’s all about the


Rawhide’s 40th birthday celebration

will prove just that.

To obtain a coupon for free attractions,

visit www.rawhide.com. Rawhide is

located at 5700 W. North Loop Road,

Chandler. For information, call (480)


Erin Sullivan is interning this semester

for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is

a junior at Arizona State University.

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