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9/23/2013 5:20:00 PM
Verde River Day: A quarter century and growing
Cottonwood Community Band presents outdoor concert during Verde River Day
Come enjoy a free outdoor band concert as the Cottonwood Community Band plays a variety of lighter pieces at Verde River Day on Sept. 28.

The band will be performing between 8:45 and 9:45 a.m. near the lagoons at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Entrance to the park is free that day.

The band will play for the presentation of the colors followed by a concert of patriotic music, marches, movie themes, and Dixieland for the audience's entertainment.

The Cottonwood Community Band, under the direction of Will Norris, consists of instrumentalists from the Verde Valley and Sedona. The members range in age from high school students to retirees. The band rehearses on Monday evenings from 7-9 p.m. at the Cottonwood Middle School Band Room 301. New Members are always welcomed. Visit the Cottonwood Community Band on the web at

Jon Hutchinson
Kudos Staff Reporter

Some people have recently commented that they didn't think that Verde River Day would last so long. But here we are, 25 years and still going strong, held annually at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Join the fun this Saturday, Sept. 28. Verde River Day is perpetual and growing, like the river itself, because the focus of the celebration is so vital and life-giving to the Verde Valley. The life of the river is so important to wildlife, plant life and birdlife, lifestyle, agriculture and just plain fun. People watch it for its highs and lows.

This year, participants will join hands in a celebration of the 25th year with a Hands around the Lagoon showing to recognize the importance of the river's flow. How many people does it take to circle a lagoon?

It'll take a bunch of us and it will be fun! Be there at 8 a.m. and wear something colorful that you will be able to see from the air. An aerial photograph will be taken will be taken by air in a flyover by Rodney Fielitz and everyone will want to be part. Get there early from 7 to 10 the Knights of Columbus will be serving up their fabulous pancake breakfast.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Arizona State Parks has waived park entrance fees for all visitors attending the event. All of the activities are at no cost, thanks to the many exhibitors and sponsors. Verde River Day promotes preservation and care of the environment by showcasing informative exhibits on the Verde's unique riparian habitat.

There are activities for both kids and adults. There is music, art and fishing (no fishing license required), canoe, kayak and pony rides. Create something at the sandcastle building arena. Of course, there is the educational and information booths with up to 40 displays and presentations of all kinds, many promoting preservation and care of the environment. Take a chance on a plastic duck in the Rotary Duck Race and you could win a prize.

The special Hands around the Lagoon event is just the beginning. The Rough Riders will post colors and hold a flag ceremony with the help of the Cottonwood Community Band. That will be followed by opening ceremonies and then the day of fun begins. State Parks Director Bryan Martyn will be on hand to help open the event. Yavapai-Apache Tribal Elder and historian Vincent Randall will present the keynote address afterward.

Music and entertainment

Music of all kinds is on tap all day, headlined by the Cadillac Angels. The popular Angels take the stage from 11:45 to 1:15. Also performing are Wendy and Joanne with River Songs, the Cottonwood Community Band, Smiths academy karate demonstration and the Rainbow Acres Choir.

Kids and Art

In the KidZone, the Earth Art Gallery (EAG) is a venue for kids to exercise their creativity, using themes and memories from the river and nature. Artist and coordinator Wendy Harwood has been hosting an interactive gallery since 2009.

"If we get people involved with nature, they get more and more involved and to be a part of it."

Participants have been helping to create a Weaving Wall using found beauty that is based on fabric and chicken wire. It is woven with recycled torn bits of fabric, twist ties from grocery bags, sticks and pieces of grass that people have found, that started from the state's centennial and includes a flag with a zigzag river running through it. She is planning a new creation, A Drop of Water, that will tie directly with Verde River Day themes.

An earth plaster wall board allows kids to create their own pictographs and graffiti from their own exposure.

There is clay and mud to be used for sculpture. And of course, sandcastle building is always fun for kids and a staple of Verde River Day.

This year a display includes works of the 25 artists who were involved in the Verde Artists Challenge, "A River Runs thru Us," sponsored by Verde Valley Land Preservation. In addition to the works of art, there will be the nine-minute river video, filmed of the artists on the river and a PowerPoint that introduces and profiles each of the artists. The special show is a traveling exhibition that has visited the Manheim and White Hills Galleries and will be on display at the Sedona Art Festival in October.

Try pottery making by hand and take your creation home with you.

Wendy says there are always opportunities for other artists to volunteer to help with nature art installations.

Kids will also enjoy a jolly jump, climbing wall and obstacle course.


Free kayak rides on the river are available, thanks to Sedona Adventure Tours. The Verde Natural Resource Conservation District (NRCD) will offer canoe rides on the lagoon.

Pony rides will be available from Trail Horse Adventures.

Bring a pole for the free fishing. A free fishing clinic and poles for those who need. Guests of all ages are welcome to fish in the lagoon that is loaded with hundreds of pounds of catfish. The lagoon will be fully stocked before Verde River Day so you are sure to catch your limit.

The Rotary Duck Race to benefit scholarships and foreign exchange.

40 displays of kinds of nature based exhibits

There will be displays of historical, nature, astronomers, forest, national park and forest, health and wellness, game and fish, birding. See the live birds and reptiles. Kids are always amazed at the fabulous birds of prey as part of the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center exhibits. The center receives and restores injured animals from the wild. Verde River Day was organized in 1988 to promote awareness of the Verde River's distinctive riparian habitat, where 85 percent of all wildlife in the area looks for sustenance.

And then there is food

The fun and activities on the river are free from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., but all the nonprofit food vendors use the event to raise funds for their activities. Each one of these organizations is raising funds for important projects.

If you are hungry for a hearty lunch, the Verde Valley Christian Church will offer pulled pork. If frybread is your favorite, Shop with a Cop has plenty.

Ice cream, pizza, hot dogs are on the menu at the Kiwanis Club booth and its hamburgers served up by the Moose Lodge.

Enjoy the best pancake breakfast from the Knights of Columbus from 7 to 10. Nonprofits concessions will be cooking up Indian Fry bread, hot dogs and hamburgers for nominal fees.

It's all fun. Don't miss it.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Article comment by: heaven lea

It would be helpful if prices were included.. This way people can be better prepared. As I dont recall a atm at the water...

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