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History of Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo in Apache Junction, AZ

The 55th Annual Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo & Parade is right around the corner; but how does an event that attracts over 30,000 people from across the world end up in a little town called Apache Junction? We have the privilege of being able to let you in on this story and it’s one you won’t forget!

In order to do the story justice, we have to set the scene for you. Imagine, it is November in 1964. At the time, some popular “rodeo” events included timed cowhide drag, boots and saddle partnership race, jackpot roping and team tying, a $5 jackpot barrel race, flag races, potato races and ribbon races (two horses tied together at the saddle horns with a 7- or 8-foot ribbon and run through a course with barrels, taking care not to break the ribbon). These events are nothing like the popular events we know today.

Back then it used to just be Lost Dutchman “Day” and it all started when the Apache Sentinel released a small 3-inch announcement in the November 27, 1964 issue, the Chamber of Commerce announced to the citizens of Apache Junction that the very first Lost Dutchman “Day” was coming , and will be held on January 23, 1965. It is absolutely crazy to think that the event we know today evolved from that small, one day event back in 1965.

Back then there was a free pancake breakfast, art show, a “Horse Picnic”, a barbeque, and the dance that rounded out the festivities. Today we play off of those same events starting our weekend off on Thursday, February 21st, 2019 with a Beer & Brat Party at the Apache Junction Elks Lodge. The following three days are jam packed with rodeo action starting at 1:30 pm each day. There will be a rodeo dance to kick off the weekend on Friday, the 22nd at the Apache Junction Elks Lodge. We are happy to announce, all these years later, we still have an Art Show that displays local artisans and their crafty wares at the Apache Junction City Complex on Saturday, February 23rd. Of course, what rodeo would be complete without a carnival and vendors? There will be no shortage of vendors or carnival rides this year at Lost Dutchman Days, make sure to come out and enjoy the fun as we celebrate all 55 years of this great, western tradition.

It wasn’t until 1971 that the three things came together and Lost Dutchman Days, as most people know it today, came together and was actually born. From that one day celebration in 1965, Lost Dutchman Days has grown into a major-premier event with a core three-day schedule of associated events that attract over 30,000 spectators.

Over the years, Lost Dutchman Days took place at various arenas, different streets became the parade route, and various locations for the rodeo dance were always moving but the main factor remained, promoting the great town of Apache Junction and providing quality entertainment and fun for all ages. With the assistance of so many volunteers, organizations and the city, Lost Dutchman Days has grown over the years, far surpassing the founders dreams back in 1964.

CLN Community & Event Sponsor

Krysta Paffrath, an Arizona native, is a social media marketer by trade but has a passion for the western lifestyle. She runs and owns two local businesses at just the young age of twenty-five. Her entrepreneurial spirit has guided her to work in many places like the WYO Quarter Horse Ranch in Thermopolis, Wyoming, a working cattle ranch in Seligman, Arizona and many places in between. Krysta has been involved in the rodeo scene for several years and is excited to be teaming up with Cowboy Lifestyle Network. Between being passionate about her career and preserving the western way of life she is excited to see what this next chapter holds for her.

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