Monday, July 9, 2018

Bull Riding Comes to AJ

July 2, 2018 © Thomas J. Kollenborn. All Rights Reserved.

Wow, I would have never believed it, but bull riding has come to Apache Junction. Not a bull riding machine, but professional rodeo bulls and bull riding cowboys on a weekly basis. This Apache Junction event occurs every Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. at the Hitching Post on the Apache Trail and Lost Dutchman Blvd.

8 seconds on one of these bad boys is what it takes to qualify for a score. Photo taken at 2018 Lost Dutchman Days by Krista Paffrath.
You might ask: “What does bull riding have to do with the history of the Superstition Mountains?” Well my friends, this is a gathering of people who are interested in cowboys, cowgirls, bull riding, trail riding, horses in our area, and even some storytellers who like to talk about the old Lost Dutchman Mine.

The professional bull riding idea emerged almost three years ago when the owner of the Hitching Post, Mehmood Mohiuddin decided he needed something to help preserve the cowboy tradition and attract business. He thought, why not professional bull riding?  Eventually, he made contact with a young man who had a professional bull riding circuit in the Salt River Valley. He had small bull riding arenas around the valley, with one located in Cave Creek, and now the prospect of one  in Apache Junction. He brought in real certified PRCA bucking bulls and riders for Saturday night programs. Also, they sponsored calf and sheep riding on Thursday nights for the younger ones and some amateur riders that are new bull riders. Many members of the Apache Junction cowboy community loved the idea and bought into it.  Mo, being an entrepreneur, liked the idea and invested. However, local homeowners disagreed with this activity along the Apache Trail, because it included all kinds of cowboys, including singing cowboys and concerts. Now here is the other side of the story.

The Apache Trail—from Apache Junction to the old site of the Fish Creek Lodge—has been a commercial avenue since 1909.

Today, we have Tortilla Flat, Canyon Lake, Dolly Steamboat, O.K. Corral Stables, Lost Dutchman State Park, Bluebird Mine, Goldfield Ghost Town Tours, Superstition Mountain Museum, Hitching Post, Filly’s, Cowboys Up and others who cater to the flavor of the old “Cowboy West.” 

Residents that move here should recognize the fact the “Apache Trail” is now a very commercial avenue with between six and nine thousand cars using the Apache Trail (SR88) on a daily basis during the winter months. Alt
hough there is always room for compromise, commercial ventures should not be over-regulated because of residential demands.

In 1986, I was involved with a committee to designate the Apache Trail as a historic highway and to preserve it as it was for the future. Few people stood up in support of this designation back then. Residential homes should not be constructed near a commercial avenue such as the Apache Trail and most land planners know this. Traffic, noise, dust and pollution are associated with the increased volume of traffic and visitors to the area by means of the Apache Trail.

Some years ago, the city of Apache Junction decided not to use the symbol of the iconic burro and prospector for their focal point. It was decided that the cowboy would be far more fitting. The funding was found and the “Cowboy” became the center of the Focal Point and Apache Junction.

The old prospector and burro retired and the cowboy image replaced them symbolically.

The cowboy image at the focal point was adopted by the city in favor of the traditional prospector.

My friends, the Hitching Post has become as cowboy as you can get in Apache Junction. You can slow progress down, but you can’t stop it.