History of A.H.A.A.

Arabian Horse Association of Arizona and the Scottsdale Arabian HorseShow History

August of 1952, at the Hotel Westward Ho in downtown Phoenix, a small group of Arabian horse owners met and agreed to the importance of the formation of a likeminded group, to promote interest in the Arabian horse and named this group the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona(AHAA).

Why the downtown Phoenix hotel?  Knowing the history of this area, recall that the population was about 50,000 and air conditioning was very new, the Westward Ho was the very first hotel to install air conditioning – and August in Phoenix was usually less than bearable.

These founders were looking to the future and agreed to the education and promotion of the Arabian horse, in the Sonoran Desert, under like conditions of their native desert of Arabia.  Corporate filings were completed for this “Non-Profit Arizona corporation” and the foundation had been laid.

The group elected Edwin J. Tweed of the Brusally Ranch as President; Hal Clay as Vice President; and Dorothy Clyde Long as Secretary-Treasurer. Bob Aste, Anne McCormick of McCormick Ranch Arabians and Dr. Eugene LaCroix; Bill Nelson, Tom Chauncey became part of the group; P. K.Wrigley; Helen Collins & daughter Carole Collins O'Connor; Rex Allison joined shortly after, and Bill Mahoney followed, along with many others.  The AHAA was 'off and running’.

Early exhibitions were held at the Casa Blanca Inn, a winter resort for the first couple of years.  It was decided to plan for a 'horse exhibition show' in mid-February at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel Arena which had a much larger venue, and the ability to show the horses to a lot more people. By this time, P. K. Wrigley had become part of the group, and since he was the owner of the Arizona Biltmore, it was a likely choice; and the Wrigley family had Arabian horses which were shipped by train every winter from Chicago to Phoenix.  These horses were often welcomed by the local populace at the train station, as they were very new to most of the population, and something most had only read about but would not often see.

A few days before in mid-February, before the very first show in 1954, it was decided to make it a real competition, a judge was found in Southern California where a good number of Arabian horses had now resided, due to the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Ranch, along with a large number of others in that area.  Phone calls were made inviting owners to come to Arizona and a total of 102 horses attended the first competition at the Arizona Biltmore from California, New Mexico, and Arizona.  1955 an exhibition was again held at the Casa Blanca Inn that year.  

The AHAA then decided to hold another competitive show and resumed the competition in the latter part of February of 1956, at the Arizona Biltmore Arena; and since that time has held a show annually every February.  1957 the show moved to the newly built McCormick Ranch arena where it shared its beauty with the rest of the world.  Early attendees will recall the beautiful African daisies blooming in the desert, covering the floor of the desert, and having automobiles parking on them!

People began saying they were “going to Scottsdale”, even though the show was actually named the All Arabian Horse Show, as most stayed in the new hotels which had sprung up around the town of Scottsdale, and that name became synonymous with the show; hence, what you heard was “Scottsdale Show”.  

Eventually, Anne McCormick had erected a masonry walled arena, she planted four tall palm trees right in the middle, and although one did not live, the other three thrived and when the show took place a wooden floor was built in the middle of the palms, and a very exotic black and gold trimmed tent was placed over the floor for the judge to work from.  This arrangement worked well until 1969 &1970, when an agreement could not be reached to host the show at McCormick Ranch, so the show moved to the northeast corner of East Bell & Tatum Roads, on Kemper Marley's property. By 1971 the show was moved back to the McCormick Ranch, where it remained through the 1978 show, which had 790 horses showing.  Anne McCormick had passed away in 1968, and her Will had stipulated that the show should remain there for ten years.  On March 1, 1978, just at the conclusion of the 24th Annual All Arabian Horse Show, the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona received a notice from Kaiser-Aetna Corporation, the property owner to vacate the premises and to take any and all related objects wanted, including the three tall Mexican palm trees!

With the three palm trees firmly and carefully laid onto a huge flatbed trailer, the AHAA had secured a lease for 89.9 acres of land from the State Land Department of Arizona, at Bell Road, which backed up to the Central Arizona Project Canal. 1979 saw the 25thAnnual Show and welcomed 810 horses that year.  

1983 was a different story, rains were much more severe and for eight days prior and four days into the show, it rained, and not enough people could get in to see the show. Two helicopters with their blades moving created enough air to help dry out the arenas so the competition could continue.  By the end of the show the sun shone brightly, and the show was a success!  

The show grew by huge numbers, largely due to the amazing production of the show, in 1985 there were 2,460 horses entered. The greatest horse show now referred to merely as “Scottsdale” continued on for another three years at the Paradise Park II facility.  1988 was the final year there, and 1989 the show moved to the WestWorld facility where it has been held ever since. A great amount has been spent to continually improve the grounds and improve the show. The show annually boast over 2,400 horses, over 350 Commercial Exhibitors and attracts over 300,000 attendees making it the largest Arabian horse show in the world. May the welcoming spirit and hospitality of the City of Scottsdale and the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona continue to inspire all who attend the “Scottsdale Show” each February.  

Location and Presidents Through the Years!

Location                                              Years                President

Casa Blanca Inn                             1952 & 1953         Ed Tweed

Arizona Biltmore                           1954                      Ed Tweed

Casa Blanca Inn                             1955                      Ed Tweed

Arizona Biltmore                            1956                     Ed Tweed

McCormick Ranch                         1957 & 1958        Hal Clay                

Also know as Paradise Park      1959 & 1960        Dr. Eugene E. LaCroix                                                                 1961                      Ed Tweed                                                                       1962 &1963         Guy Stillman                                                                   1964 & 1965        Walter Ross                                                                     1966 & 1967        William Mahoney, Jr                                                                   1968                     Howard Heaton

Kemper Marley Property             1969                     Howard Heaton                                                                           1970                     Al Mecham        

McCormick Ranch                         1971                     Luis Merlino                                                                   1972                    Bill Nelson                                                                       1973                    Rex Allison                                                                     1974 & 1975        Marc Cosenza                                                               1976 & 1977        Bill M. Owens                                                               1978                     Bill Littleton

Paradise Park II                               1979                     Bill Littleton                                                                    1980                    Dr. Eugene E. LaCroix                                                              1981                      Horace Gregory                                                                            1982                     Dr. Joseph Hawkins                                                                      1983 - 1988         Mickey Hegg      

WestWorld                                        1989                    Bud Adams                                                                    1990                    Ed Grandon                                                                    1991 - 1998         Ed Grandon                                                                    1999 & 2000      Michele Johnson                                                                          2001 & 2002      Mark Owens                                                                  2003 - 2005       Janice McCrea-Wight                                                                  2006 - 2009      Bill Flood                                                                          2010 - 2013        Jay Allen                                                                          2014                    Janice McCrea-Wight                                                                  2015 - 2018        Jay Allen                                                                        2019 - 2022       Mary Lou Houge                

1952,1953 & 1955:    Casa Blanca Inn - North of Camelback Road

1954& 1956:             Arizona Biltmore - 24th & Camelback  

1957& 1966:             McCormick Ranch, also known as Paradise Park - Pima south of Shea  

1969 &1970:             Kemper Marley Property - Northeast corner of East Bell & Tatum Road

1971 - 1978:              McCormick Ranch, under Kaiser-Aetna ownership - Pima south of Shea

1979– 1988:             Paradise Park II – Bell Road & 64th Street on Arizona State Land  

1989–Present:        WestWorld Leased by the City of Scottsdale – Pima & Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.