Finding a place to hitch your horse was harder than getting a place to park in Cave Creek on Saturday as thousands gathered to celebrate the town’s Western heritage.
Cowboys racing down hills in bathtubs, children riding sheep bronco-style and a chili cookoff are just a sampling of events at Wild West Days, which continues 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.
Cave Creek, which was settled in the 1870s by miners and cattlemen, began the event last year to help preserve the town’s Western flavor.
"Scottsdale really isn’t the ‘West’s Most Western Town’ anymore," said Bonnie Castillo of New River. "When you come to Cave Creek there are hitching posts outside all of the businesses and you feel like you are transported back in time."
Castillo, wearing a red bandana around her neck, was one of 600 riders taking part in a poker ride. Participants, who play in teams of two, ride their horses through town stopping at local merchants to pick up playing cards. After 40 stops, the couple with the best hand wins.
"I’ve never seen so many people on horses," said Chuck Briggs of Phoenix, who brought his family out for the chili cookoff. "It is great to see the Valley hasn’t totally lost its Old West spirit."
About 2,000 attended the inaugural Wild West Days and more are expected this year.
"We are trying to keep in touch with our roots and identity," said Marla McGee, president of the Cave Creek Merchants Chamber of Commerce.
Admission is free and a portion of the proceeds from events benefit United Cerebral Palsy and other local nonprofit organizations.
Wild West Days
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today
Where: Downtown Cave Creek
Info: (480) 437-1110