April is a month filled with exciting local events and opportunities to get involved in the community. This spirit is encapsulated by the 47th Annual Stagecoach Days. A mixture of events ranging from golf to dancing fills the next two weekends with togetherness and fun.
The origin of Stagecoach Days dates back to the late 1950s with a community’s effort to build a safe pool for the families of Maricopa. In 1958, local farmer and Rotarian John Smith donated the land for the pool. Needing to raise quite a bit of money to actually build it, the Rotary Club organized a day of fun to get community members together and, in turn, fund a public pool that would be a source of joy and safety that continues today.
Stagecoach Days originally occurred on one Saturday and enjoyed a huge turnout. Over the years, it has expanded and changed. Many different events have made up Stagecoach Days in the past including rodeos, horse races, roping and barrel racing. This year’s events are a mix of the old and new.
The events start off with a more traditional taste of Stagecoach Days this Saturday, April 16. It’s the annual barn dance and raffle at Sonny Dunn’s barn, located three miles east of Maricopa Road on Maricopa – Casa Grande Highway. The barn dance will feature live music from the Jim Monk’s Band and plenty of dancing. Tickets are available at the door for a $5 donation. Raffle tickets can be purchased from Rotary Club members and at Stage Stop prior to the event. Books of six tickets cost $5 and offer a chance at prizes that include a 32″ color TV, DVD player and portable CD player. The raffle will take place at 10 p.m. Saturday at the barn dance.
A smaller children’s carnival will also be held this weekend at the Train Depot. This event, organized by Sandra Probasco, is primarily for smaller children and lasts April 14-16.
The third weekend in April brings us a newer attraction that was added last year. The Duke will host their 2nd annual Stagecoach Days Golf Tournament. This event will return this year on April 23 and is being organized by Jim Beard. There will also be a Carnival that same weekend at the Train Depot. This event is for both children and adults and is being organized by Probasco. Both these events will help raise part of the money needed for the upkeep and maintenance of the public pool.
The Rotary Club’s public pool has been a staple of the Maricopa community since the 50s. Richard Fleming, president of the Rotary Club, sees the pool as the heart of his hometown. Fleming recalls spending many summers there and wants to ensure that others in Maricopa get the chance to build those same memories.
“This community is so important because it creates support for the pool,” Fleming said. “Historically, it was important based on the children that drowned in the 50s and 60s from swimming in irrigation ditches. After they built the pool, it was important because it was the place to go.”
Being that the pool was built more than 50 years ago, it needs work. Major improvements have been made in small pieces to keep the costs down (see related story). This is the main reason that the Stagecoach Days are so needed. Money raised from the events will go to fixing the pool and keeping it running for years to come.
With an increase in Rotary Club members from 10 to 35 in recent years, the newer members of the Maricopa community are getting involved in full force. Fleming hopes that this involvement continues at the events. “I would really like to see new members of the community turn out for the Barn Dance,” he said. We really need to sell those raffle tickets and have the events be successful.”
As Fleming demonstrates, members of the Rotary Club are passionate about keeping the pool open and useful for Maricopa. According to Fleming, the Rotary Club has a “full, active membership” and members are always ready to step up and help.
Three long time members, Sonny Dunn, Don Pearce and Oliver Anderson, along with his son Mayor Kelly Anderson and Club treasurer Vice Mayor Brent Murphree, are all major contributors not only to Stagecoach Days, but the Rotary Club and community in general. “Maricopa is really blessed to have these people involved and so supportive for all these years.”