A local businesswoman and the chairman of the Lost Dutchman Days committee were honored Jan. 22 for their parts in the success of the annual rodeo and associated events. This year’s events are Feb. 26-28 and March 1.
Denny Walter received the 2015 Honorary Dutchman Award at a kick-off dinner for the Lost Dutchman Days volunteers committee. The award honors an individual who may have been on the volunteer rodeo committee or helped over a long period of time.
Mr. Walter said he was surprised to receive the award.
“I had no idea. Many more people here deserve it more than I do,” he said.
Mr. Walter said he has volunteered for nine to 10 years for the rodeo, first as a member of Elks Lodge No. 2349, cooking and selling Johnsonville Bratwursts and for the past two years as chairman of the committee.
“It’s good to have a rodeo out here to keep the Western lifestyle alive, since we do live in Arizona and it is a Western state and it’s good to keep that alive,” he said of the annual event. “Every charity that is involved with Lost Dutchman Days gets a percentage of the money. Last year we gave out $98,000.”
Paula Smith, owner of Crazy Horse Saddle Shop, 1484 W. Apache Trail No. 3 in Apache Junction, received the 2015 Heritage Award. She was unable to attend the kick-off dinner, but received her award the next day at her business.
“The Heritage Award: What that is is a community business that has been with us, has helped us, volunteered for us and this year it was Paula,” Mike Mills, a volunteer with the Lost Dutchman Days committee, said at the kick-off event. “She really deserves it,” he said.
“Her heart’s in it; her heart is in Apache Junction. She’s a great supporter,” Sandie Russell, a 2013 recipient of the Heritage Award, said.
“I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had won this year’s 2015 Heritage Award,” Mrs. Smith said Jan. 23. “It’s an honor and a privilege to receive this award and my most favorite thing I like to do is support Apache Junction, anything going on horse-related,” she said.
“It’s extremely important to maintain the Western lifestyle in Apache Junction. Apache Junction has always been a Western-cowboy town. We’ve always had horse-related rodeos, trail riding, events for kids,” she said. “It is the town I was raised in. I grew up on horses in Apache Junction and I want to continue for the next generation to continue to have horses and activities in our hometown.”
Managing Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org