By Mila Besich-Lira
Twenty-five years ago a group of committed residents started the Apache Leap Days Festival. The event was used to raise money for parks and recreation programs for the community. Over the years the event grew and has become an annual event that everyone enjoys. For many of those years, the event organizers also had challenges with the weather; one of the early years of the event there was snow on the ground. This year that wintery weather also attended the event.
The events on Friday for the Apache Leap Mining festival were cancelled due to extreme weather; strong winds, hail and pouring rain kept the event from opening. Saturday the rain changed from a deluge to a drizzle and the parade kicked off the day of events.
Mike McKee, the grand marshal, was driven by Kathy Long in her convertible BMW and together they led the parade. This year the winners of the parade were: First Place – The Gorham Family, Second Place – Ray High School Marching Band, Third Place – McKee Family Float. Also participating in the parade was Town Council Candidates Michael Alonzo and Steve Estatico, Superior Has Heart, District 8 Senator Barbara McGuire, Superior High School Robotics Team, DECA, and Career Technical Education programs.
The events of the day continued with the retirement of the three time chihuahua race champion Peanut. Peanut’s human mom Rene passed away this year and the family announced she wouldn’t be racing anymore. The races continued with several chihuahua sized dogs racing and winning the race this year was Mr. Big owned by Steve and Marie Penfielde and Chica owned by Maribel Castro. The Chihuahua races were sponsored by Oracle Electric Services.
One of the key events for the festival is the annual mining competition. Miners from all over the state come to Superior to try their skills in hand mucking, drilling, sawing and spiking. This year the overall winner was Matt Decker, who placed second in all of the events but had the best time overall. This was a new formula for the overall competition. Winning first place in the individual competitions were: Spiking – Bobby O from Williams, Sawing – Jesse Byrd, Mucking – Frank Granillo and Eddie Gomez and Drilling – Bobby O. Competing in the ladies division were: Danielle Taran and Marlene Arriola. The mining competition was sponsored by M3 Engineering.
This year the Junior Mining Competition was sponsored by Carlotta Copper Company. Winning the competition was Henry Boyer of Gilbert.
Despite near freezing temperatures the beer garden was full Saturday night and residents enjoyed dancing and listening to Superior’s own Angie Gomez and the Powerdrive Band.
Throughout the two days the event attendees were treated to non-stop entertainment such as the Sun City Poms, Wyatt Earp, Baile Folklorico Alma de Superior and activities such as horseshoes and cornhole tournaments benefiting local organizations.
The event would not have been a success if it weren’t for the committed volunteers at the Superior Chamber of Commerce and the premium sponsor Resolution Copper and major sponsors Lhoist North America and Meridian Engineering.