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 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
“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.