Superstition Mountain Museum brings region’s history, legends and culture to AJ on January 13-14
By Betty Swanson
One of the biggest local events of the year takes place at Superstition Mountain Museum in mid-January each year.
Superstition Mountain Heritage Days and Apacheland Reunion will take place this year the weekend of January 13-14, 2018. Each year, this spectacular two-day shindig celebrates the history, lore and culture of the Superstition Mountains and Central Arizona, including the story of Jacob Waltz, the Dutchman, and his Lost Gold Mine. Admission is $5 per person, with youngsters 10 and under admitted free.
The featured performers during the two-day event are the world-famous Yellow Bird Indian Dancers, award-winning superstars of Native American dance. The Yellow Bird Indian Dancers are comprised of the talented Native American Duncan family from Mesa, AZ. The group travels around the world as ambassadors of America, sharing the music, dance and lore of the Native American culture with viewers.
At this event, they will be performing a repertoire of authentic dances from both the Southwest and Midwest native cultures. These dances and the narrative and music that accompany them are both colorful and educational. Performances will be at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.
With history taking the spotlight at this event, it wouldn’t be complete without the memories of Apacheland Movie Ranch, which was located in what is now Gold Canyon. Opened in 1959, it was a Western movie mecca and hosted the shooting of 17 television series, 29 full-length feature films and hundreds of commercials before it burned down on Valentine’s Day, 2004.
The Elvis Chapel, now an iconic landmark on the Superstition Mountain Museum grounds, is so named because it figured prominently in the Elvis Presley movie Charro! that was filmed at Apacheland.
The big barn on the side of the hill on the grounds of the museum is also an Apacheland Movie Ranch survivor and is now known as the Apacheland Audie Murphy Barn, because of the lengthy gun battle that was staged in the film Arizona Raiders, a film starring Murphy.
Award-winning actor Michael Dante, who co-starred in Arizona Raiders with Murphy, will be one of the featured guests for the weekend event. A show of another of Dante’s films, Apache Rifles, will take place in the Elvis Chapel on the Museum grounds on Friday, Jan. 12 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., with a question and answer symposium after both showings. Michael Dante played the title role in the classic film Winterhawk and has completed the sequel in book form, entitled Winterhawk’s Land. The original film Winterhawk can be viewed on YouTube now, for free. Dante will be selling his autographed books, photos and DVD’s all weekend.
Other Apacheland alumni, including local resident Hank Scheffer, Charlie LeSueur, Ron Nix and others will gather in the Apacheland Barn on Saturday to autograph books and share stories.
Also performing twice a day, both days of the event, are John Wayne impersonator Ermal Williamson and six-time National Champion yodeler Paula Williamson. Amazing trick roper Cowboy Steve will perform both days. See a special appearance by the Buffalo Soldiers of the Arizona Territory – Ladies and Gentlemen of the Regiment, as they present colors on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 9:30 a.m. Other attractions are Native American and Western vendors, food, and family fun in the way of gold panning and other activities.
Superstition Mountain Museum is located at 4087 N. Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ. For more information, go to superstitionmountainmuseum.org or call 480-983-4888.
Meet Michael Dante
Award-winning actor and author, Michael Dante will be a special guest during the 2018 Heritage Days and Apacheland Reunion set for the weekend of Jan. 13 & 14. Dante received the Golden Boot Award, the Oscar of Westerns; the Silver Spur Award, the Golden Globe of Westerns; and many more.
Michael penned his autobiography, Michael Dante – From Hollywood to Michael Dante Way, in 2014, with stories about being under contract to 3 major studios, including many of the 30 films and 150 television shows he appeared in, and his journey through Hollywood during the Golden Years, leading to a street named after him in his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, ‘Michael Dante Way.’
Michael co-starred in two films with Audie Murphy: Arizona Raiders and Apache Rifles, which were filmed in and around the Apache Junction and Tucson areas of Arizona. He will be one of the celebrity guests of honor at Heritage Days on January 13 and 14, 2018. Michael will show the film Apache Rifles in the Elvis Chapel on the museum grounds on Friday, Jan. 12 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., with a question and answer symposium after both showings.
Michael Dante played the title role in the classic film Winterhawk and has completed the sequel in book form, entitled Winterhawk’s Land. The original film Winterhawk can be viewed on You Tube now, for free. He will be selling his autographed books, photos,and DVD’s all weekend.
Top photo: Yellow Bird Indian Dancers by Jack Olson