Ben Johnson Days to celebrate two decades of good will

Donna Piland, right, winner of the horse trailer during the 2014 Ben Johnson Days celebration, receives her prize from Goldfield Ghost Riders President April Schultz. (Courtesy of Goldfield Ghost Riders)

Donna Piland, right, winner of the horse trailer during the 2014 Ben Johnson Days celebration, receives her prize from Goldfield Ghost Riders President April Schultz. (Courtesy of Goldfield Ghost Riders)

 

The Goldfield Ghost Riders will present Ben Johnson Days Nov. 6-8 at locations in and around Apache Junction. Activities include a poker ride, a fun gymkhana and a raffle for a slant Primo horse trailer by Titan that can haul three horses and features a front walk-in dressing room.

The winner may choose to take $2,500 cash instead of the trailer. Tickets are $5 each, five for $20 or 15 for $50.

The event honors the memory of its namesake, an American stuntman, world champion rodeo cowboy and Academy Award-winning actor whose film and television careers spanned 1940s-1980s. He lived in Mesa, where he died on April 8, 1996.

Mr. Johnson’s charitable contributions included his support for Sunshine Acres Children’s Home, 3405 N. Higley Road in Mesa. When contacted about having an equestrian charity poker ride at the Goldfield Ghost Town in November 1994, he accepted and included many of his old acting friends, including Harry Carey Jr., a veteran of more than 90 films and television shows who agreed to ride in the event. In all, there were 349 riders giving the men a helping hand.

Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit Sunshine Acres and the Apache Junction branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley.

The Goldfield Ghost Riders officially formed in 1996 and is a nonprofit organization that continues to raise money for children’s charities in the spirit of Ben Johnson. The group also organizes various community rides and gymkhanas as well as the annual “Ben Johnson Days.” In its 20th year, the event is host to a weekend of fun events and activities for the entire family.

For more information, visit the ghost riders’ website.

The schedule of events is:

Nov. 6-Friday

Texas Hold-em Tournament: Sign up at 6:30 p.m., tournament starts at 7:30 p.m., at Elks Lodge No. 2349, 2455 N. Apache Trail in Apache Junction (at Lost Dutchman Boulevard). $25 buy-in.

Nov. 7-Saturday

“Fun” Gymkhana: Registration starts at 11 a.m., event starts at noon at the Apache Junction Rodeo Grounds on Lost Dutchman Boulevard at Tomahawk. Adult entry fee $15; age 18 and under entry fee is $10 (for four games total). Events include raffles and T-shirt sales. Food and soft drinks will be available for purchase.

Nov. 8-Sunday

Poker Ride: Registration starts at 7 a.m. Ride-outs begin at 8 a.m. and continue every 30 minutes until 11 a.m. in the lower parking lot of Goldfield Ghost Town, four miles north of Apache Junction on Highway 88. Members of the Apache Junction Boys and Girls Club will be selling coffee and breakfast burritos. The entry fee is $25, which includes lunch at Mammoth Steakhouse and Saloon in Goldfield. Horse rentals are available for $50 if reserved in advance. Raffles, auctions and the horse-trailer drawing will take place that day. For more information, call Sandie Russell at 480-993-5438.

For more information, call 480-982-3666 during the day or 480-586-7864 during the evening.

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