Gila Valley Pioneer Days are back!

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Parade entrants join others to take part in the 2019 parade. The Gila Valley Pioneer Days will return Friday and Saturday, July 22 – 23.

Schedule of events and registration

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – Come one, come all to the triumphant return of the Gila Valley Pioneer Days two-day celebration, Friday and Saturday, July 22 – 23. 

For the first true time since being shut down for the pandemic, a full slate of Pioneer Days activities await the Gila Valley next week. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Like this celebration in 2019, this year’s Gila Valley Pioneer Days celebration is set to end with a bang as usual.

The event kicks off with a pickleball tournament in Thatcher which runs mixed doubles from 6 – 9 a.m. on Friday, July 22, and men’s and women’s doubles on Saturday, July 23. The cost is $20 per team. Click here to register for the mixed doubles, click here for men’s doubles, and click here for women’s doubles.

The variety show will also return and will be $3 per ticket. The show will start at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22 at the Safford Center For the Arts. Click here to purchase tickets.  

The Pioneer Days Rodeo will have event signups from 6 – 6:45 p.m. on Friday, July 22, with a 7 p.m. sharp start time. 

Jon Johnson Video/Gila Herald

Scheduled events include a boot race, stick horse race (bring your own stick), cowhide race, greased pig/chicken chase, cowboy musical chairs, ribbon roping, and Mormon team roping. Check out the video to see a preview of some of the events.

Friday’s festivities conclude with a family dance from 8:30 – 10:30 p.m at the Thatcher Elementary School playground at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Second Street. 

Saturday’s events start off with a 5K run starting at the Thatcher High School at 6 a.m. The cost is $15 per person. Click here to register. There will also be a one-mile fun run in conjunction with the 5K. 

The co-ed volleyball tournament is scheduled for 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at various school gyms. There are three levels of competition, and the cost is $50 per team. Register for the volleyball tournament here

The 3-on-3 basketball tournament is scheduled for 1 – 5 p.m. at various school gyms and has four divisions with costs ranging from $20 to $40 per team depending on the division. Click here to register. Hurry, the registration deadline is July 19 at 5 p.m. 

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Scott Alder demonstrates how to perform the cowhide race.

The annual parade with this year’s theme “Let Us All Press On” will gather at the Thatcher High School parking lot at 5 p.m. The parade is scheduled to start at 5:30 and make its way down Church Street from Third Avenue. The parade will then travel down Stadium Avenue and finish at the Thatcher ballfields. 

Following the parade, a barbecue dinner for $6 and other food will be available at John Mickelson Stadium at EAC as well as games for children. At dusk, a fireworks show will culminate the weekend’s events. For more information visit the Pioneer Days website here.  

Jon Johnson Video/Gila Herald