Western Week

Western Week returns beginning Saturday, January 28 bringing western flare back to the west’s most western town. (Facebook)

Western Week returns to Scottsdale beginning Saturday, Jan. 28, bringing a broad range of classic events that pay homage to the history of the “West’s Most Western Town.” 

This year brings plenty of promise as two keystone events will be celebrating big anniversaries. 

The Hash Knife Pony Express will make its 65th annual pilgrimage from Holbrook to Scottsdale to deliver the mail via pony express and the Parada Del Sol will march for the 69th consecutive year.

The parade follows a route from Drinkwater Boulevard along Scottsdale Road, finishing at Brown Avenue and Indian School Road.

Immediately following the parade, Old Town transforms into a massive Western-style block party with a kids’ zone, food trucks, merchandise vendors and multiple stages with live entertainment from today’s popular bands to traditional performers. 

This year’s theme – Cowboy Kickoff – recognizes Super Bowl LVII the following weekend. Guests can expect a fun melding for both modern-day cowpokes and football fans.

All the events will be restriction-free for the first time in three years.

“Last year, I was pleasantly surprised with the number of people we attracted for both Hash Knife Pony Express and the Parada Del Sol,” said city Tourism and Events Director Karen Churchard. 

“You could tell that even last year, people were excited to be out again. I think this year we’re anticipating record attendance at a lot of our upcoming events.” 

Western Week kicks off on Saturday, Jan. 28, with casual events like the OldTown Farmers Market and specialized Puzzle Rides. 

However, the events pick up steam as February unfolds. 

One event Churchard expects staggering attendance at is the Arizona Indian Festival Feb. 4-5.

“One of the biggest things that we’re excited about is having the Arizona Indian Festival back in the Civic Center where it debuted as an annual event seven years ago and will be one of the first free events in the newly opened Civic Center,” Churchard said. 

However, the cornerstones of Western Week are still the arrival of the Hash Knife Pony Express and the Parada Del Sol that follows a day later. 

Because of this, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West offers a unique conversation with Hash Knife Pony Express Captain Mark Reynolds – which Scholefield says has been a popular attraction during Western Week. 

“Last year, we formally scheduled Mark to formally speak at the museum and despite the suggested guidelines we had in place to keep everyone six feet apart, we had a standing-room-only crowd in our theater,” said museum spokesman David Scholefield. “Although we advised people to be concerned about COVID, they persisted because they thought ‘this is so interesting.’” 

This year, Reynolds will speak at the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Theater/Auditorium at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West at 9:45 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. on Feb. 3 and Feb 4. The free talks are part of the museum’s free admission days Feb. 3 and Feb. 4. 

Reynolds will not be the only voice delivering an informative talk at the Museum of the West. Scottsdale historian Joan Fudala will discuss the past six decades of the Parada Del Sol Feb. 2. 

Scholefield said Western Week also helps focus more attention on Scottsdale’s Arts District. 

“I applaud the city for taking four or five events and rolling them up into a bigger one that can be marketed as Western Week,” he said. “I also think it’s an excellent way for the Arts District to come together.” 

Western Week will also benefit from the coming uptick of tourism brought on by the Super Bowl at State Farm Stadium Feb. 12.

Because of this, Churchard teased that there could be some cross-partnership between the Super Bowl and Western Week. 

“We’re working with the Arizona Super Bowl host committee about having some components to recognize and celebrate when the Super Bowl comes into town the following weekend,” Churchard said. 

However, one thing remains certain. This year’s Western Week is set to draw a crowd, which is ultimately good news for the city and Old Town establishments. 

“I’m anticipating further growth this year both at the events during the whole week and especially here at the museum,” Scholefield said.

Western Week highlights

Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market

Saturday, Jan. 29, and Feb. 4

8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Brown Avenue & 1st Street

Offers  indigenous specialties of the West, flowers, free-range beef, eggs, local cheeses, freshly baked artisan breads, jams and more from local purveyors.

Western Spirit Gold Palette ArtWalk

Feb. 2 | 6:30-9 p.m.

Scottsdale Arts District

Guests can stroll the streets of the Scottsdale Arts District and take in authentic Western entertainment as well as exclusive Western-themed exhibitions at participating galleries.

Marching through Six Decades of Parada Del Sol

Feb. 2 | 6-7 p.m.

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

3830 N Marshall Way

Scottsdale’s Community Historian Joan Fudala leads this special photo-rich presentation on the Parada from its origins to date. Held in the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Theater, the event does not require registration but attendance is limited.

65th Annual Hashknife Pony Express Arrival

Feb. 3 | 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Attendees are invited to “saddle up” for this one-of-a-kind experience in celebration of the arrival of the Hashknife Pony Express, the oldest officially sanctioned Pony Express in the world, which delivers more than 20,000 pieces of U.S. Mail to the steps of Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. 

The event begins with live music, bands, line dancers, Native American hoop dancers and royalty, kids’ activities and food trucks. Riders arrive at noon. Event is free, as is admission to the museum all day. 

History and Stories of the Hashknife Pony Express

Feb. 3 | 9:45 and 10:45 a.m. and Feb. 4

9:45 and 10:45 a.m.

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

In addition to free admission to the museum, Western Spirit hosts multiple History and “Stories of the Hashknife Pony Express” educational seminars in the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Theater/Auditorium. 

69th Annual Scottsdale Parada del Sol Historic Parade and Trail’s End Festival

Feb. 4 | 10 a.m.-noon (parade), noon-4 p.m. (festival)

Old Town Scottsdale – Scottsdale Road

Presented by Oliver Smith Jeweler, the 69th Annual Scottsdale Parada Del Sol Parade and Trail’s End Festival celebrates the city’s Wild West roots beginning with a family-friendly parade featuring more than 125 entries such as vibrant floats, mounted horse-riders, horse-drawn carriages, school marching bands, wagons and stagecoaches representing multiple cultures from Mexican and Native American to Arabian and Western. 

Arizona Indian Festival

Feb. 4 | 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Feb. 5 | 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Scottsdale Civic Center

The Arizona American Indian Tourism Association (AAITA), in partnership with Arizona’s Native American tribes, hosts this annual event that offers guests the unique opportunity to learn more about the state’s Native American Indian tribes by exploring examples of traditional Indian villages and dwellings, experiencing traditional arts and crafts demonstrations and enjoying native food vendors and native mainstage entertainment such as dancing and singing. 

The Tribal Travel and Tourism offices will showcase native destinations.

The city of Scottsdale’s rich history dates back more than 130 years to the original farming and ranching operations that earned it the title of “The West’s Most Western Town.” Today, Old Town is a bustling and sophisticated area with dozens of local boutiques, art galleries, fine dining establishments, wineries and craft breweries. 

However, the city works hard to maintain its “Wild West” charm and keep its heritage alive through events such as Western Week. 

More information: scottsdalewesternweek.com.

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