The Charro Ride – Reconnection to Western Roots

Formed in 1961, The Scottsdale Charros are an all-volunteer, nonprofit group of business and civic leaders in Scottsdale, Arizona that support youth sports, education and charitable causes. From the very beginning, the Charros—by their very name—meaning gentlemen riders, embodies the Scottsdale’s 1947 slogan, “The West’s Most Western Town.”. My father is a member of this group and I have grown up around their traditions and celebration of western culture. Most notably, I remember their annual ride, so I asked my father to explain further what it is, and what it’s purpose is.

“We have been doing it {the ride} for fifity five years. We put together the Charro ride where we have 150 civic minded leaders and take them on a three day horseback ride somewhere unique in the state of Arizona, whether it be a ranch, a forest or a desert. We have been all over the state, a different place every year. It is way for people to get to know our state and see places they wouldn’t normally see. A way for us to appreciate our home and its beauty and to engage community leaders with our state and for them to get to know its beauty. It is a weeklong horseback ride because it’s a way to connect with our western heritage and to live life like a cowboy. Day one the guests arrive by bus, and we meet them, then we give them a horse and ride from there to camp, which is a permanent site with tents and a kitchen, and we camp out under the stars and wake up the next day and go on an all-day trail ride. It’s a very traditional ride. There are events for the rookie riders, like each year they have to do something to entertain us like they do funny skits and things to entertain us, someone is in charge of organizing that, and on the last day we all have a gymkana which is a horseback skills challenge, like a mini rodeo, so you’ll race around the track,, run around the barrels, sort cattle and do different cowboys skills challenges. This happens on the last day, then the wives show up and have a big party in camp.”



This is a festival of sorts celebrating and performing Western heritage and traditions. It is a group of men from the Scottsdale and Phoenix area who are civic leaders or participants who meet to engage with their shared Western traditions. It is put on by the Scottsdale Charros, a non-profit group, and participated in by Charro members and non-members alike, however they are all men. It is meant to celebrate the cowboy heritage and traditions of Arizona by participating in a long horse ride, rodeo competitions and sleeping out under the stars like herders of yore. It is the same traditions every year, however in a different place, as part of the festival is to celebrate the beauty and diversity of Arizona landscapes from deserts to forests. It is a community experience to reconnect with cowboy culture for people who shape the community and therefore should be in connection with their community’s traditions and culture. It takes place in the fall, just before winter when the heat has died down and for a week. It is performing the identity of being a member of the Scottsdale/Phoenix community and the identity of living in the southwest.