2012 may seem like a long ways down the road, but Yavapai County has decided to get a jump on planning the celebration of Arizona’s Centennial. The county invited local government officials, citizens, interested agencies and organizations to the Prescott Rodeo Grounds last Wednesday to brainstorm possibilities and ideas.
Elisabeth Ruffner started the meeting with a history of Yavapai County. She then recounted the way the 1976 United States bicentennial celebration was planned, “Congress did something wise for a change and said to all the states, instead of a major celebration in Washington, we’re going to fund commissions in each of the states and ask those commissions to get as broad and deep and high an involvement from individuals, organizations, jurisdictions, as possible. And it turned out very well.” That seems to be the model Yavapai County would like to work from, a unified theme with a lot of individual involvement.
As a starting point to the celebration, Yavapai County Supervisor Carol Springer envisions a brochure highlighting what she calls the “Scenic Historic Loop Tour.” Phoenix is the starting point, then the map would show the way through Black Canyon City, Camp Verde, Sedona, Cottonwood, Jerome, Prescott Valley and Prescott. Springer calls the road system in and around Yavapai County a “natural asset”, and suggested a printed map that highlights various areas on one side, and lists attractions on the other.
Julie Ayers, Yavapai County Administrator delivered a presentation on the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission and what they have set as goals in planning the Arizona Centennial Celebration. The state has urged each city, town, county and Indian Tribe in the state of Arizona to appoint a centennial committee to work toward comerating the Arizona Centennial. The state will award $2.5 million for "Legacy Projects" with a catch: To receive the award $5 million in matching funds must be raised by non-state sources. The state will take applications from individuals or agencies and if they are awarded “Legacy Project” status they will be eligible for the funds. Information on how to present your project to the state and the forms are on the Arizona Centennial website. Ayers noted that the website is not always kept up to date.
Ayers also presented the idea of the county hiring a part time coordinator for the project. The county believes that this is very important to the community and since the centennial is 4 years away it is a lot of work to ask from a volunteer. The thought is that hiring someone to help with this effort will provide continuity and keep the project moving forward. The county’s idea is that each community could donate a portion of that person’s salary. Ayers states, “We need to be self-sufficient and we need to have a focus beyond us.” While no one disagreed about the need for a coordinator, one person voiced the opinion that they should first look into getting a volunteer for the position.
One of the items everyone agreed on was that the committee should strive to include all areas of the county that want to participate, not just the incorporated cities and towns. Karen Despain, former managing editor of The Daily Courier believes that there is a lot of history in the small communities. Springer agreed. Springer has recently worked to have the old Burma Shave signs reinstalled along Route 66, which is outside of any incorporated ares.
Most of the groups represented at the meeting had ideas of how they would like to contribute to the project. Ann Boles, from the Yavapai County Library District noted that most of the small unincorporated towns have a library, and all the incorporated towns have libraries so they could be a place for displays, meetings or gathering information. She is part of the One Book AZ committee, which is already listed as a Legacy Project by the state. One Book AZ is a state wide committee to promote reading. They’re “reading our way to the centennial.” From now until the centennial, the committee will choose books about Arizona, an Arizona setting, or author. The public is voting for the books.
Marty Borgelt from the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo committee says they are considering having two parades that year, one traditional and one non-motorized. There is a possibility that the rodeo will run between June 30 and July 7th, and only have evening performances. They are trying to get their archives updated to see what themes were used in the past. Borgelt says they are “prepared to be an active part in this.”
George C. Hall, from the Arizona Film and Video Archive has already submitted an idea for a Legacy Project to the state commission. Their group would like to create an AZ film archive. Hall says it would be something “lasting beyond the fireworks and speeches. We really need something like this.” He has a historical film about two men who froze to death on Mingus mountain in1930. Hall also notes that he has secured various domain names that might prove useful for the project.
The Sharlot Hall Museum was represented by archivist Ryan Flahive. He envisions a “solid traveling exhibit that will go to various locations.” He also recalled some of the lasting projects Prescott had for the US Bicentennial celebration in 1976, “What’s lasting from 1976, is the creation of Granite Creek Park, moving of the Bashford House, the folk arts fair… they were all bicentennial projects.” Flahive believes that a Film festival would “go over so well here.”
There will be another meeting on October 29th at 10:30 am. The meeting will take place in the Board of Supervisor’s Hearing Room, 10 South 6th Street, Cottonwood. Supervisor Chip Davis will be hosting that meeting. Subsequently Ayers will formulate a report on what the various citizens and organizations have in mind for the celebrations and provide it to the Board of Supervisors.