The town of Queen Creek was officially incorporated in 1989, but it has a much deeper history. Native American communities, homesteaders and immigrants made their home in the area that is now Queen Creek, and the town provided ideal conditions for farming and ranching.
Queen Creek’s annual Founders’ Day Festival will celebrate this history on Saturday, September 22, with activities like relay races, 4-H and FFA areas, eating contests, a children’s zone for kids 5 and younger, lawn games, pig races, a cornhole tournament, food and retail vendors and a sustainability zone.
The Founders’ Day Festival started in 2014 as part of the town’s 25th anniversary.
Queen Creek’s recreation coordinator of special events, Erica Perez, says the event gives a glimpse into what makes the town different.
“When council decided we were going to make this an annual event, we really started to focus in on how we could bring Queen Creek to the event, focusing on our equestrian heritage and our agricultural heritage,” Perez says.
The festival has grown into a communitywide celebration involving residents, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the fire department, businesses and FFA and 4-H clubs.
Public Information Officer Constance Wilson says the event helps foster community pride.
“That’s definitely one of the main goals of the event, to really have people get excited about the community that they live in,” Wilson says.
At the center of the festival is the Battle of the Badges, a relay-style competition with traditional games such as potato sack races, progressive dress, giant adult tricycle, tug-of-war, three-legged races and the javelin toss.
As part of the contest, community members become representatives for the fire department or the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and earn points for their teams as they complete relays.
The points are marked on punch cards, which they can redeem for raffle tickets. For the raffle, vendors donated prizes such as gift baskets and cards.
The competition will end with relays between members of the fire department and sheriff’s office.
Perez says the battle allows for greater engagement between residents and first responders.
“We wanted to create an experience where volunteers from our fire department staff, our MCSO officers could be out there with the community,” Perez says.
Leading up to the event, the fire department and sheriff’s office made videos to try to garner support for their teams.
“It’s all in healthy fun. It’s not in a competitive nature. It’s really about getting the community involved and the community excited to come out to the event and cheer for them,” Wilson says.
During the festival, attendees can try lawn games such as horseshoes, giant jenga and Connect 4 and cornhole.
The event also offers family-friendly activities such as inflatables, a climbing wall, obstacle courses, a joust arena and a train ride.
In the 4-H Zone, families can interact with animals such as chickens, goats and rabbits. The area also has an obstacle course with roping and barrel activities dog agility demonstrations. The local 4-H club chapter will talk about Queen Creek’s equestrian offerings.
Local businesses such as the Queen Creek Olive Mill and Schnepf Farms will offers hands-on activities related to sustainability inside the EnviroZone.
During eating contests, guests will try to outdo each other as they scarf down watermelon, pancakes, cupcakes or pie.
Food vendors will sell festival-style food such as pizza, barbecue, hot dogs, shaved ice and kettle corn.
Queen Creek Founders’ Day Festival, Founders’ Park, 22407 S. Ellsworth Road, Queen Creek, 480.358.3000, queencreek.org, 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, September 22, $10 for relays and inflatables wristband, $40 per team for cornhole tournament.