Save the date: Tomorrow, Saturday, May 11, the historic mining town of Crown King will host a festival to help raise money for road repairs. Last year, the Gladiator Fire burned more than 16,000 acres; then, complicating matters, monsoon storms caused mudslides and rockslides. Saturday’s event will feature live entertainment, food, a kids area and a beer garden.
Melinda Ripley, the president of the Crown King Chamber of Commerce, talked to Arizona Highways about tomorrow’s festival and why Crown King needs your help.
Tell me about this Saturday’s festival. What’s going on?
We will be raising funds during this event for several different organizations. Some of the funds will be given to the Crown King Chamber of Commerce for our Community Improvement Project. We are currently selling raffle tickets to give away a “gold nugget.” The funds from this will go to improve the downtown Crown King area. We are planning to purchase many loads of Agra-Soil to cover the main road in town. This will help take care of the boulders and such that are making our street rough. Crown King is an unincorporated town; therefore, we do not get county or state help to maintain the roads inside our community. Once we can obtain the needed amount to replace the soil, we are planning to place old-fashioned, wrought-iron, solar-powered lamp posts throughout the area as well. It will be a beautiful project when we can complete it.
We have also started a “Crown King Kids Corral.” This is an area that we are planning to have during our bigger events dedicated to the children. They can make crafts and play games that are related to the current event. For instance, this weekend, we will be making paper-plate tamborines, wind chimes (out of Dixie cups and straws and bells) and a coloring contest. (Per the request of our children, they “want to know who the winner is THAT day and want candy as a prize!”) We plan to carry this idea out throughout the year. Funds donated from this area will remain in a separate envelope to replenish our supplies used. We have had a tremendous outpouring from some community members that have donated yarn, buttons, gluesticks, etc. We are very excited to offer something for the children to do when they visit Crown King.
What will you do with the funds raised?
A portion of some food sales will go directly to the Chamber of Commerce for continued advertising and permit costs.
How has business been since last year’s fire, and how can people help?
Business has been extremely slow for the merchants following the fire and rain last year. It was a rough winter for them. However, we have tried to come together and plan numerous fun events for the remainder of this year and will continue on next year! We have really tried to pump our marketing and utilize Facebook, radio stations, news stations, publications and any other venue of advertising that we can reach. We have started Facebook pages for all our businesses; this has really helped, as Facebook seems to spread very quickly.
We are currently seeking volunteers to set a table up at the event with donation buckets that list all of our nonprofit organizations: the Crown King Fire Department, our churches, our American Legion, our Crown King Road Association, our Forest Service Department, and obviously our Historical Society. We also have a Crown King Community Association that tries to focus on individual needs for those who live in the community. We also have an Americorps group that works in Crown King during the busy wildfire months. We have one of the only remaining one-room schoolhouses. I think 11 remain in the U.S. We currently have three students.
So people know once and for all, is Crown King open for business?
Crown King is definitely open for business! We welcome all those to come see our very historical and beautiful little hideaway! It is one of the most untouched pieces of America’s history that we are so very hard trying to keep.