7/23/2013 11:01:00 AM Bearizona to bring the backwoods to Williams Bearizona Backwoods BBQ to feature food, live music, alligators, bounce houses and more Aug. 2
Bearizona CEO Sean Casey stands on the drive-through animal wildlife park’s new stage. The stage will be complete for the park’s Bearizona Backwoods BBQ event Aug. 2 and will be the new home to Bearizona’s raptor show. Ryan Williams/WGCN
From left: Samantha Saya, Ann “Spike” Haesloop, Lisa Rodriguez and Kayley Stidham display Bearizona’s Tourism Champion of the Year award. Ryan Williams/WGCN
WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Wild animals, live music, and great food are all on tap at Bearizona's Backwoods BBQ.
The event is Aug. 2 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Fort Bearizona walk-through area of the park.
"It's a thank you for pass holders because they get into the event for free," said Bearizona Operations Manager Jocelyn Monteverde. "But we wanted to open it to the public so they can see what we're about."
Besides seeing Bearizona's walk-through animals at the event, attendees will also see live gators, snakes and other animals from the Phoenix Herpetological Society to go along with the backwoods theme.
"It'll be cool because we don't have stuff like that," Monteverde said. "So we're excited about that."
The Backwoods BBQ will also feature a mechanical bull, bounce houses, a pie eating contest, food from Big John's Texas BBQ, Pine Country Restaurant and JP's Grizzly Grill, and drinks from Grand Canyon Brewery and Grand Canyon Winery.
Country band Marble Heart will take to Bearizona's new stage during the Backwoods BBQ. After the event, Bearizona will use the new stage for the High Country Raptors show.
Bearizona CEO Sean Casey said the new stage is in a better location, since the old stage is near where workers are building a new parking lot.
"We're doing a lot of construction in that direction so we always had to stop for the bird show, three hours a day minimum," he said.
Workers are also building a nocturnal mine shaft, where Casey hopes to display creatures like possums, ringtail cats, scorpions and tarantulas some time around Christmas.
Williams Volunteer Firefighters will bring a fire truck to the Backwoods BBQ. They will be accepting donations to benefit the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill fire June 30.
Organizers encourage attendees to dress according to the theme and bring blankets and lawn chairs.
The Bearizona shuttle will transport people from the Grand Canyon Railway Depot to the event.
The event is free for annual pass holders, and organizers ask them to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Presale tickets are $5 for children ages 4-12 and $10 for those 13 and older. Tickets at the gate are $5 for ages 4-12 and $15 for those 13 and older.
South Rims Wine and Beer Garage is the presenting sponsor. Other sponsors include Grand Canyon Railway, the Grand Canyon Brewing Company, HomCo Lumber and Hardware, Grand Canyon Winery, and Pepsi.
Arizona Office of Tourism Director Sherry Henry presented Bearizona with the Tourism Champion of the Year award at the 2013 Governor's Conference on Tourism July 11.
"It was based on attendance and making a difference in 2012," Casey said. "We're excited that the entire statewide tourism industry definitely knows about us now."
Casey thanked the city of Williams for its support of Bearizona. He added that more people are learning about the wildlife park each year.
"I think the first year we went (to the conference) absolutely no one had heard of us, in 2011," he said. "In 2012, the keynote speaker mentioned Williams and Bearizona. And then this year there's no way they missed us."
At the awards gala, organizers played a five-minute video with Bearizona staff and animals, Mayor John Moore, and Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce CEO Gioia Goodrum.
"I think it was just great advertising for not just us but for Williams," Casey said.