Founders' Day connects town to its rural heritage

Family event is way to convey a sense of Marana's agricultural roots
2013-03-07T00:00:00Z Founders' Day connects town to its rural heritagePhil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

After a one-year hiatus, Marana Founders' Day is back, with a parade and daylong, agriculture-focused carnival atmosphere meant to celebrate the town's heritage and culture.

In 2011 the event was staged in part by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance, but Marana officials decided to let the Marana Heritage Conservancy take it over.

"It makes sense for the conservancy to host Founders' Day because the organization works with the town to preserve our community's history and cultures," Marana spokesman Rodney Campbell wrote in an email.

He described the event as "a celebration of our town's interesting and varied past."

Marana, which was incorporated in 1977, is spending $5,000 to support the event this year.

Patrick Nilz, president of the Marana Heritage Conservancy, said the organization is up to the task because the event plays into its strengths of preserving heritage. The conservancy's force of 30 volunteers will help keep the event humming.

"The spirit of community and traditional heritage in Marana is strong," Nilz said. "Marana is a great little town. I've always said it's the best town in Arizona. I'm very proud to be from Marana, and we're always proud of what we do and the way we do it out here."

The conservancy is using the event to raise funds for its Heritage on Wheels, a proposed $50,000 project that will create a mobile interactive display that will travel to schools to teach students about Marana history. The organization has raised $5,000 for the project.

Festivities begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Ora Mae Harn Park with a parade themed "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," featuring local school marching bands and floats built by organizations in the town. The grand marshal is Porkchop, who co-hosts the morning show on KIIM (99.5-FM). U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick will be the guest of honor.

Jennifer Dickson, a member of the conservancy's board of directors, said the event is meant to inspire pride in the town.

"Our goal is to educate people about our past, and present the future of Marana," she said. "We'll have lots of things for kids to do and lots of stuff from the community. It's a family event, and we're trying to bring in all cultures."

There will be a food court and kid zone, as well as a car show and tractors, construction vehicles and firetrucks. Entertainment will include mariachi music and Chinese dance displays.

"If you don't know where you're coming from, you don't know where you're going. That's really important," said Mary Carter of MHC Healthcare, which is participating in the parade. "This is an opportunity to get out with your family and do something together."

If you go

• What: Marana Founders' Day.

• When: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Ora Mae Harn Park, 13250 N. Lon Adams Road.

• Admission: Free.

• For more information: Call 682-3405.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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