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.