AJ has a population of around 34,000, and amasses 34 square miles. The population grows three-fold from October through May when the snowbirds migrate from colder climates.
Apache Junction has no city property tax. While taxes are levied for the board of education and fire district, as well as Pinal County, the city is funded by sales tax. This consumption-based tax system is the fairest, in my humble opinion. Those that have, pay. Those that do not have, are not forced to spend what little they have.
The Sonoran Desert is one of the wettest in North America – we get anywhere from 3-inches of precipitation during a dry year to 16-inches in a wet year. I suspect this will be one of the wet years.
Saturday was gray and severely overcast – but the weather did not dampen the crowds for the Lost Dutchman Days parade, or the festival and rodeo.
Our Christmas parade last about 20-minutes on a good year. The Lost Dutchman Days parade is a full two hours. Go figure. You can see where our priorities are!
The parade commenced with a fly over by the Apache Junction Air Force – just kidding. It was a classic biplane. Next came the Apache Junction Police Department, including the two command vehicles – one a Hummer, the other an armored ATV.
And what is a parade without Shriners? Shriners get to wear that cool fez, and drive funny little cars. I want to be a Shriner! But only if I get to drive one of the little cars.
After the parade we headed directly to the rodeo grounds. We were not about to make the same mistake as last year – stopping by Captain’s for a few beers first. Beers at the festival were only $3 a can – and profits went to charity.
We stopped to listen to a couple of bands play before the rodeo, and ate some overpriced, unhealthy but delicious fair food. We then picked out seats an hour early, to ensure that we got good seats. It was a good plan… but as they say, “The best laid plans…”
The first indicator of a really bad decision was when a group of ten people from Idaho and Oregon and Minnesota laden with big-ass stadium seats sat in front of us. I had an 80-year old woman practically sitting in my lap the entire time. Those seats should be banned because people are to stupid to realize how uncourteous they are by infringing in the minimal amount of space the people behind them really have.
We sat at the end of the bench so that we would not disturb anyone of one of us had to get up and make a beer run. The group next to us, however, had no problem making a more than a dozen trips in front of us. The only high point was that the woman had a nice rear end.
The horsemanship and pageantry were excellent – and the rodeo was chock full of thrills. The animals won that day – pretty much across the board. Anybody that claims that the rodeo is cruel has never seen a bronco stomp a cowboy relentlessly.
The cowboy was second up on the bronco busting – he received the busting! The horse stomped him for a good fifteen seconds before he was able to get loose. Fortunately he was able to walk himself off, but it appeared that he dislocated his shoulder at the very least.
Of course the high point of every rodeo is the bull riding. No one was able to stay on the bull for over 8 seconds – but they sure had some good rides.
The rains held out for us – beginning literally 2 seconds after the last bull ride, when the rodeo was over. We grabbed fresh beers from the vendor and sheltered under the bleachers until the rain let up. The rain dropped the temperature a good five degrees, so we decided to call it a day. Hopefully we have better weather next year.