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Yuma parties like it's Arizona's 100th

A quick roundup of local Centennial festivities

YUMA, ARIZONA - Since Yuma was already a ripe old 41 as an incorporated town when Arizona became a state, it's only proper that it celebrate the Centennial in historic fashion ... still, rounding up a definitive schedule of birthday festivities is like lassoing jackalopes. With that in mind, here's a quick summary of major party plans:


City of Yuma Parks & Recreation Department will hold a ceremony to rededicate the historic city cemetery as the Yuma Pioneer Cemetery.  Taking place at 13th Street and 1st Avenue, there will be an opportunity to share memories of departed Yumans.    

Yuma County and the Caballeros de Yuma join forces to kick off the birthday weekend with a bang, including fireworks and the dedication of a permanent Centennial plaza ...
From the Yuma Sun: County Administrator Robert Pickels and the Yuma County Board of Supervisors will begin the event with a presentation of a time capsule, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Centennial Heritage Area between the Main Library and Yuma Catholic High School.  The area has walk paths, grass and an interpretive section where symbols highlight the significant aspects that have shaped the area's cultural image over the past 100 years.  After the ceremony, the Caballeros de Yuma will be offering a tri-tip meal for $7 per plate. Music by local bands will be featured in the Heritage Area until a fireworks display concludes the festivities. Tickets for the meal can be purchased at the Friends of the Library Bookstore in the Yuma Main Library.  For more information on ticket sales, call 373-6519.  
To bridge the border in celebration of the Centennial, Yuma, San Luis and San Luis Rio Colorado (Son.) are joining to present a variety of art and photo exhibits, a film festival, art workshop, student performances, leadership training, border colleges consortium, an all-day tour of San Luis Rio Colorado, and a daylong symposium on border topics.  All events are FREE except the Barrier 2 Bridge Symposium ($59 including lunch and dinner) and the "Day in Mexico" tour ($49 including transportation, lunch and dinner).  Find a full schedule of events and registration information at, 928-341-8584; more info about the symposium in this Yuma Sun article.
The Yuma Jaycees have proudly presented this unique American sport for the last 66 years - and celebrate Arizona's Centennial at this year's 67th annual edition. This PRCA-sanctioned rodeo draws top riders from around the Turquoise Circuit and beyond. In addition to rodeo action, there's a parade through city streets on Saturday morning and dances following rodeo action on both Friday and Saturday nights. More info,, 928-344-5451.  Note: Rodeo tickets are on sale at YVB's Visitor Information Center, Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, 201 N. 4th Ave., 928-783-0071 or 800-293-0071.  Read more in this Yuma Sun article.

A long-time Yuma tradition, this event brings do-si-doers from throughout the Western states for down-home dancin' with callers and cuers from around the region. As a special treat to celebrate Arizona's Centennial, the California Heritage Dancers will demonstrate vintage dances in period costume at this year's festival. More info,, 928-782-0844, 928-345-1233.

A full day of fun, free activities, Yuma Crossing Day takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, along historic Madison Avenue in downtown Yuma. The original track alignment for the Southern Pacific Railroad when it entered Arizona in 1877, Madison Avenue still boasts some of Yuma's oldest buildings, including the historic Sanguinetti House, now a museum operated by the Rio Colorado chapter of the Arizona Historical Society.
Along with historical re-enactors dressed in authentic period costume, Yuma Crossing Day will feature demonstrations of piñata making, tamale cooking and adobe brick making, along with displays of antique tractors and cars.  Entertainment will feature mariachi bands and folklorico dancers, along with games authentic to the period. To add extra spice to the day, there will be a jalapeño eating contest, along with exhibitors and vendors of vittles and drinks.
Daytime activities are free and open to the public; admission to the Sanguinetti House Museum is also free that day.  Author Gerald Ahnert will autograph his newly published book, The Butterfield Trail and Overland Mail Company in Arizona, 1858-1861.
But the fun doesn't end when the sun goes down, as the Yuma County Historical Society is hosting a Redondo Days fundraising dinner at 6:30 p.m. to benefit the Sanguinetti House museum. Jose Maria Redondo was Yuma's first mayor and a pioneer of agriculture in the Yuma area, as well as a founder of Redondo Beach, Calif.  Singer Linda Ronstadt is among the Arizonans whose family trees include Redondo roots.
To be held in the gardens of the Molina Block, an original adobe structure that was one of Yuma's first commercial buildings, tickets for the fundraiser are available now for $50 per person or, or to ensure families, friends or business associates are seated together, $500 for a table of eight.
For more information about any of the day's events or to purchase tickets for the Redondo Days fundraising dinner, contact the Yuma County Historical Society at 928-782-1841. More info,, 928-782-1841  
One hundred years ago on Feb. 14, the new citizens of the new state of Arizona heard the church bells ring at noon and celebrated their status with an evening dance on Main Street.  To celebrate the Centennial in 2012, Yumans can again take part in a down-home, downtown fandango - a traditional celebration and community dance, this one sponsored by the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area.  
The free celebration takes place from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Feb. 14 on Main Street in Historic Downtown.  Music will be provided by Paloma, directed by Lorenzo Chavez, and food and drink will be available, including barbecue from the Garden Cafe, a Heritage Area beer garden, plus lemon shakers, kettle corn and gourmet coffee.  Partygoers are encouraged -- but not required -- to wear vintage clothing circa 1912.

A special fireworks display sponsored by the Caballeros de Yuma will light the night at 8:30 p.m.  -- giving kids time to enjoy the show and still have a "school night" bedtime.

Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area is also presenting a performance by the Western singing group "Riders In The Sky" at the Historic Yuma Theatre at 6 p.m., for information and to purchase tickets, go to  
NEW YUMA SIPHON EXHIBIT > Grand opening & ribbon cutting Feb. 15 (1-2 p.m.)
The Yuma Siphon celebrates its own 100th birthday in Arizona's centennial year. This massive tunnel under the Colorado River first delivered irrigation water to Yuma on June 29, 1912, and still operates "full-stream" today.  In honor of the centennial, Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area partnered with the Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona State Parks and the National Park Service to create a new exhibit about the Siphon and its key role in Yuma's development.  Located at the Yuma Quartermaster Depot - first home to what was then the U.S. Reclamation Service - the new exihibit uses giant graphics and a six-minute video to dramatically detail the creation of the Reclamation Service, the construction of Laguna Dam and the epic feat of building the Siphon. Featured speakers at the ribbon cutting will include Kara Finkler, deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, Reclamation Area Manager Jennifer McCloskey and representatives of other key partners.  The new exhibit is free and open to the public during regular park hours.

FREE MOVIE SCREENING: BLOOD INTO WINE >Feb. 15, 7 p.m. Historic Yuma Theatre
NexGen Yuma, in conjunction with the Yuma Arts and Culture Division and the Historic Yuma Theatre, is sponsoring this free, public screening of Blood Into Wine, a documentary film that follows alt-rocker Maynard James Keenan and his quest to make wine - one so delicious it has been declared the official Arizona Centennial wine. Keenan's Stronghold Centennial wine - a red, a white and a rose - will be available for purchase during the film and after, with representatives from the winery on hand to answer any questions.  The screening, which is an official, sanctioned Arizona Centennial event, is free to the public.  For more details, contact Isaac Russell at, or 941-7800.  Please note: This film is not rated, and viewer discretion is advised.

Originally built as a vaudeville venue, the Historic Yuma Theatre later morphed into a movie house - and has retained its role as a downtown entertainment center offering a variety of programming as the heart of the Yuma Art Center. This free celebration of the theatre's century mark will feature birthday cake, local entertainers, music, flags, history and fun. More info, 928-373-5202.


FREE BOARD EVERY DAY THE SUN DOESN'T SHINE > August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2012
A lot has changed here over the last century - but one thing that hasn't is sunshine an average of 350 days a year. Back in the day, Yuma hotels boasted they offered "free board every day the sun doesn't shine." In honor of Arizona's Centennial, the community renewed the historic offer of free eats on sunless days for twelve months beginning August 1. (Updated score as of Feb. 1: Sunshine 215, Gloom 0). More info,, 800-293-0071.

On sale now, Yuma Territorial Prison, Quartermaster Depot
Inspired by a coin cast a century ago by Yuma pioneer E.F. Sanguinetti, to celebrate the first irrigation water flowing through the Yuma Siphon on June 29, 1912, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area created a commemorative medallion to celebrate the Siphon's 100th birthday.  There are a few solid silver coins from a numbered limited edition of 100 still available $250 or plenty of an unnumbered version in brass on sale for $25. More information, 928-783-4771.

The nonprofit Museum of History in Granite dedicated its granite panels detailing the history of Arizona for the ages a year ahead of the Centennial. Located just eight miles west of downtown Yuma, this California location is a great place to catch up on Arizona milestones, as well as the history of California, the United States - and humanity on general. More info,, 760-572-0100.
Yuma Visitors Bureau markets the Yuma area within the travel and tourism industry and to the general public. Direct travel spending in Yuma County totaled more than $566 million in 2010, supported nearly 5,800 jobs and generated $36.3 million in state and local tax revenues.
A longtime favorite with sun-seeking snowbirds, Yuma's population nearly doubles in the winter months, thanks to more than 23,000 spots in RV parks and resorts. The community also offers nearly 4,000 hotel rooms, conference and meeting facilities, and three casinos. For more details about Yuma's year-round attractions, special events - and the rarely "cloudy with a chance of tacos" forecast* - visit or call 800-293-0071.
Sender contact (and disclaimer!):
Ann Walker, 928-376-0100 (office), 928-210-9044 (cell),
We compiled information from a variety of sources as a convenience to our members and friends -- for information on the events, please contact the organizers at the numbers, websites or emails shown!
Visitor Information Center: 1-800-293-0071

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'Anytime' releases:

Around & about - a quick Yuma overview

Brilliant! Yuma wears 'sunniest' label with pride

Last link in river restoration under way


Background info:

Fast Facts About YVB

 Fast Facts About Yuma 

Yuma history - narrative

Yuma historic timeline


Research and statistics

Yuma Winter Visitors Study 2017-2018

Yuma Winter Visitors Study 2017-2018 Executive Summary

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