Those of you who have spent an evening at the Chuckwagon Supper and Western Music Stage Show in Cottonwood, Arizona, will vouch for the high quality of the entertainment, great music and a terrific supper.
Their location seems a little strange for such an eclectic show but it grew there out of necessity. In the 1800’s there was a farm in this location. Later it was operated by Chuck Maybery. In 1993, the Verde River flooded, carrying away much of the agricultural land Chuck was using to grow vegetables for sale. They toyed with the idea of opening a Chuckwagon Dinner Theatre, and then proceeded to put the plan into action, opening in 1994. Their venue was a great meal followed by Western music and cowboy comedy. The result has been spectacular, and features constant change while keeping the original idea of good food, family fun, and simplicity.
The supper and show take place in the great hall, a large building with pine tables and seats. When the supper bell calls, you are given instructions on how to wind your way through the kitchen where your plate is filled at several stations with good old chicken, or ribs, cowboy beans, a great salad, and flying biscuits (watch out for these). Top this off with a homemade apple crisp with ice cream.
Then, you are treated to the show. I’ve been there several times and I’ve never been disappointed. The musicians change from time to time, but the high quality of the western music continues uninterrupted.
Over the years the family has built up quite a lively frontier town that provides ample opportunity for families to get in some exercise and some unique shopping. Although the buildings resemble old tyme buildings on the outside you will be pleasantly surprised at the shopping opportunities on the inside.
Of course all buildings are not for shopping. At the shooting gallery you can try your luck with a Colt 45 six-gun and see if the targets stand up to the punishment of the wax bullets… assuming you can hit the target. You might be tossed into the small jail so pictures can be taken of the new prisoner. Maybe you think you can rope a steer from a stationary horse.
For a pleasant zoo adventure take a walk past the cages of geese, goats, donkeys, and peacocks. If it’s the beginning of October, you might find the turkeys just a little nervous, after all Thanksgiving Day is imminent, and they might wonder at your intentions.
The Mabery Museum highlights the life of Chuck Maybery, along with some other family members who have helped make the Blazin’ M such a superb place to visit.
While you are strolling you must visit the Wood’n West Gallery and see the wonderful display of Animated Wood Carvings. This collection of lifelike figures shows various aspects of pioneer life. It took 30 years for the carver, Jack Britt, to complete the task.
The Blazin’ M Ranch is located north of Phoenix near the Village of Cottonwood on the Verde River.
For more than four decades James Stoness has travelled the roads of North America, photographing and writing about what he has seen. His travel articles and beautiful pictures have been published in several magazines and newspapers. He is also the author of five western novels.
The Blazin’ M Ranch is one of the many wonders visited in his scenic travel guide book, “Cactus and Canyons”
Visit his website at: www.stonesstravelguides.com