Saturday Oct. 9 turned out to be a busy day for Florence residents, with events running from 8 a.m. all the way to 10 p.m.
On that day, Florence commemorated the 127th birthday of Ernest McFarland, a long-time Florence resident, former U.S. Senator and former Arizona governor, with a special celebration.
The special event featured a farmer's market, art show and silent auction, tales of frontier justice in the Old West, members of the Florence 1800s group dressed in period costumes, and more.
Festivities kicked off with the Florence Farmers Market on the patio at the McFarland Historic State Park from 8 a.m. to noon, with treats available from Peace Love Cinnamon Rolls and beverages from Maui Wowi of Mesa.
At 11 a.m., Susan Jackman from the Greater Florence Visitor’s Center provided a special presentation about McFarland, followed by a Q&A and tours and stories about the unique history of the park. At various times in its history the park was a jail, a hospital and the oldest courthouse in Arizona.
McFarland, known simply as “Mac,” also served a majority leader in the U.S. Senate. After his term as Arizona governor, McFarland was appointed chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. Nationally, his greatest achievement was being one of the “fathers” of the G.I. Bill while he was in the U.S. Senate.
From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors enjoyed the “Art Behind Bars” art show and silent auction, which showcased artwork created by inmates at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Florence.
Starting at 5 p.m., Road to Country Thunder took place. The street festival ran until 10 p.m. The Road to Country Thunder was sponsored by Country Thunder and was meant to whet appetites for the big show, which ran from Oct. 14-19.
Country Thunder takes place at Canyon Moon Ranch in Florence. The town has hosted the country music festival since 2003.
Road to Country Thunder featured food trucks, vendors and Historic Main Street became a beer garden. Finally, the Road to Country Thunder culminated in a concert that featured up-and-coming artists Sheri Rowe, Jatsy Edwards, Ryan and the Renegades, as well as the Valley’s own Tom Wagner.
The stage was of the Silver King Marketplace at Main and Ruggles streets. The Road to Country Thunder was expected to attract 3,000 visitors to downtown Florence.
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