Mayer Daze fest draws thousands

People came from all over Arizona to kick off the summer party season at the 40th annual Mayer Daze celebration this past weekend.

Sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Big Bug Creek, the two-day event brought revelers of all ages to watch the big parade, try their luck at the carnival and enjoy an open-pit barbecue.

Kiwanis President Jeanne Baker said she is thrilled by this year's turn-out.

"This is great - a little windy, but just great to see all the people here," she said.

Festivities began early with an all-you-can-eat breakfast sponsored by the Mayer Elders Club.

Elder's Club member June Kellett said she and her army of volunteers cooked up a storm of bacon, eggs, pancakes and biscuits.

After breakfast, residents and guests alike tuned out and filled the streets for the big Mayer Daze Parade.

Traditionally the major draw at Mayer Daze, the parade brought over 50 entries and hundreds of participants strutting their stuff past well-wishers lining the parade route.

This year's parade included Prescott Valley's Franklin Phonetic School Marching Band, the first marching band to participate in a Mayer Daze parade.

The Kiwanis' selected Cory McCloskey of Fox-10 news as this year's Grand Marshall and long-time Mayer residents Clyde and Sonya McDonald as King and Queen.

McCloskey said he hails from a small town in Illinois and really enjoyed being Grand Marshall.

"It was an honor. I work in Phoenix, but I love getting to the small towns," he said. "I wish I could get out more."

McCloskey's young daughter Lydia, 5, said her favorite part of the parade was riding the Mayer Fire District's newest engine and throwing candy to the kids along the route.

As the entries walked, rode or drove past, judges scored them and awarded prized in several categories.

Taking top honors for both the best entry representing a fraternal organization and the Grand Prize for best overall, was the Kiwanis Club's 'United We Stand' float.

The patriotic float featured many local kids in costume and Kiwanis member Lori Ziegler as the statue of Liberty, complete with green face paint.

The winner for best motorized entry went to the Pine Flat 'Quad Squad'.

Located 10 miles West of Mayer, Pine Flat residents' preferred method of transportation is by All-Terrain Vehicle. Taking second place in the motorized category was the Mayer Fire District Auxiliary for their patriotic float 'Building blocks of America'.

Riding into first place in the mounted category, the 'Wild Women of the West' donned traditional costumes to celebrate the women who made the west famous, and infamous.

Capturing second place in the mounted division was Desert Hills Fellowship Church with a pair of Grey Prenchons pulling a traditional buckboard wagon supporting the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo.

This year's Walking category had a distinctly military look.

First place honors went to Prescott's own Arizona 'Rough Riders', a Spanish-American war era Cavalry re-enactment troop. Second place honors went to the Central Arizona Young Marines. This Club employs a strong sense of discipline and moral development to encourage a drug-free lifestyle for kids from eight years to 17 years old.

In the finial contest of the parade, Bert Teseky picked the winning spot in a special 'road apple bingo' game and won a cash prize of $100.

With the parade route divided into 100 spaces, Teskey selected the spot where a horse deposited the first 'road apple' of the parade.

As a late entry, former Yavapai County Supervisor Bill Feldemier earned the dubious honor of being parade 'pooper-scooper' and removed the winning 'apple'.

After the parade, the crowds moved on to try their luck at the carnival.

On the midway guests found games, rides and lots of food to keep young and old alike in the party spirit.

In addition to the carnival, guests looking to unload some greenbacks also had opportunities to bid on items in a post-parade live auction.

Wining bidders took home an Arcosanti bell, a DVD player, a Large Picnic Table, a gas barbecue grill and tickets to a Diamondbacks game.

All the fun and excitement left the revelers with big appetites and Kiwanis members cooked up an old-west favorite.

Guests feasted on the annual open-pit beef and bean barbecue dinner.

Mayer Daze Co-chair Cheryl Drentlaw said they served over 300 meals at the Mayer recreation center and hundreds more from their booth at the carnival grounds.

Drentlaw said cooks Brad Gross and Mike Drentlaw, along with several volunteers, started cooking in the early hours of the morning.

"They were the main cooks, and they did a great job taking care of all the people," she said.

Drentlaw said the event takes about six months to assemble and all the proceeds go to support Kiwanis programs for kids.

She also said she hopes it will expand in the future.

"We want it to be bigger and better to raise more money for kids," she said.