Circle your wagons. By this weekend, downtown Mesa will be turning back the clock to more than a century ago when the city’s residents lived among cowboys, Indians, outlaws and scofflaws, and the horses they rode in on.
For a one-day festival, Main Street will be transformed into the 6th Annual Mesa Old West Days, a return to a time when horses trotted along a dirt road and stagecoaches used Main Street perhaps moments before they were robbed by an outlaw cowboy.
Mesa Old West Days will be filled with live western music from the late 1800s era, outlaw re-enactments including a “quick gun draw” competition and stagecoach robberies right in the middle of Main Street amid food and refreshment booths and vendors selling their wares.
“Mesa Old West Days is going to happen come rain or shine,” said George Notarpole, who owns the antique shop History, By George! and is co-chairing the event with Mike Pierson, who owns the Book Gallery on Main Street. “A lot of older people always picture downtown Mesa in the 1920s with cars parked along the street in front of businesses, but people don’t realize Mesa goes back way farther than that. Mesa is an 1878 western town that was once filled with cowboys and citrus groves and was where in-laws of Wyatt Earp had lived many years ago. A few years ago, we thought, ‘We’ve got to do something to get more people downtown, and this is a way to remember Mesa’s roots and help support tourism in the city. People know that Arizona is a state with a lot of western history and people come from all over the world to learn more about its past. Scottsdale was known as the West’s Most Western Town and Mesa has the same kind of legacy.”
One of Mesa’s western legacies is the Sirrine House on Center Street across the street from the U.S. Post Office, a home where one of Mesa’s early Mormon families once lived. Tours of the Sirrine House were held up until a couple of years ago. Notarpole said he hopes the tours will return in the near future to continue promoting the city’s early history.
The Sirrine House, operated by the Arizona Museum of Natural History, is Mesa’s only fully-restored, Victorian era historic home museum.
The home was built in 1896 by Joel E. Sirrine for his new bride, Caroline Simkins Sirrine. In February 1986, the Sirrine Historic House Museum was opened to the public. This was the culmination of six years of community support to preserve this part of Mesa’s history. The City of Mesa, with the help of the Mesa Historical and Archaeological Society and many other groups and individuals, were instrumental in the success of the restoration project.
But hold on to your 10-gallon hat: On Saturday, a large portion of the Mesa’s western history will come to life.
“We’ll keep the day humorous and light,” Notarpole added. “It will be a day for people of all ages to come out and have a good time. If it gets a little warm or if it rains, we’re holding events under a tent so we’ll be able to enjoy them more.”
Mesa Old West Days is being sponsored by the East Valley Tribune, Downtown Mesa Association, History, By George!, and the Book Gallery.
MESA OLD WEST DAYS
When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10
Where: Downtown Mesa along Main Street at Macdonald and West First Avenue
Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org