While most of the families coming to Pacana Park for the last day of Stagecoach Days Sunday were there for the carnival, the French family – Jim, Shannon and their 10 children – came to hear the community church presentations.
The family, whose children range in age from 2 months to 24 years, moved to Maricopa in January but currently attend church in Gilbert.
They came Sunday specifically “to find out more about the local churches,” Shannon French said.
The All Faiths performances – during which community churches were given 15 minutes on the main stage to show off their bands or just introduce themselves to the community – was part of the community picnic.
The French family was one of the few participants who opted to spread out a blanket on the grass in traditional picnic style.
Most attendees bought food from the vendors and sat in the folding chairs in front of the stage.
Between church testimonies and live music, political candidates gave stump speeches.
“I think it’s great,” said state Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, who is running for state House District 11.
“This is one of the only events that allow a mix of church and politics, and I love it,” Smith said.
Maricopa Unified School District Superintendent Steve Chestnut isn’t running for office, but he did speak on behalf of the property-tax override on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Attendance tapered down Sunday – a brisk, sporadic wind had kicked up – but the park was bustling.
Zedrick and Sheimia Bryant entered the park trying to keep up with their three kids, ages 14-months to 6 years, who were running ahead to Frazier’s carnival.
The Bryants, Maricopa residents for three years, attend Stagecoach Days every year.
“Anything that supports the community we generally go to,” Zedrick Bryant said. “It gets the kids out of the house and is a way to enjoy the weekend.”
Their children, he said, were especially excited about “the rides and the carnival.”
At the inaugural Maricopa Motorcycle Riders rally, Pascuan Cardenas, Camilo Baldenegro, Amado Rojas and Andy Cordova, who had all ridden from Eloy, said they would come again next year.
“We came late,” Cardenas said. “Next year we’ll come for the contest.”
Members of the group said they enjoyed the event and planned to bring a larger group next year.
Riley and Velma Palmer, who moved to Maricopa a year ago, also enjoyed the rally.
“I’ll be glad when it gets bigger,” Palmer said. “One of the things that I miss about Detroit is they had really big rallies. But once more people find out about it, it’ll get bigger.”Will Dunn, a founding member of Action Alliance, the organization hired by the city to put on the event, said he thought this year’s Stagecoach Days was a success.
Although unsure of the exact attendance, Dunn was certain thousands had visited Pacana Park to attend the event over the course of the weekend.
Friday, which featured the Rotary Club street dance, Dunn said “people had a blast.”
He estimated 200 to 300 people came to the dance and said by the end of the night people had to be asked to leave the park when it closed.
The large turnout continued through Saturday.
“Saturday attendance was great,” Dunn said. “We never had 10,000 people at once, but certain we had that many come through.”
The live music Saturday, which featured the band Positive Attitude, was also a hit.
“It was the first time I’ve ever been to a concert where people were up dancing by the second song,” Dunn said.
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