January 26, 2016
Assistant to the Town Manager
Interim Public Information Officer
Celebrate La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Marana, Arizona
On February 20-28, rodeo participants and spectators from across the globe will descend on southern Arizona for one of the longest-running rodeo competitions anywhere in the world. La Fiesta de los Vaqueros attracts a wide audience due to impressive performers and unmatched environs. This year’s event promises to entertain as much as ever, and Marana has played a key role in sustaining and celebrating this proud tradition.
Every year, the Rodeo commissions an emblematic poster which will advertise not only the event itself, but the culture and lifestyle it has come to represent. Sarah Kennedy, this year’s poster artist, is deeply familiar with this culture. As a longtime Marana resident, she has spent many days riding along the Town’s trails and exploring its rural charms. Complementing her extensive knowledge of the land are her close relationships with the ranchers and riders who call it home. One of those residents, Sherry Cervi, has enjoyed considerable success in rodeo competitions across the country, and offered the perfect subject for Sarah’s poster.
Whipping around tight corners, kicking up clouds of dust, it can be hard to make out Sherry’s features. Sherry has been competing in professional rodeo since 1994. Every year, riders from across the world gather in Las Vegas to determine the world champion, a title Sherry has earned for the barrel-racing event four times. She and her horse, Stingray, have been a team for nine years, and their partnership is what Sarah Kennedy wanted to capture on this year’s rodeo poster.
“My main goal was to convey my respect and admiration for both Sherry and Stingray. I wanted to capture Stingray’s musculature. She’s just a phenomenal horse and I wanted that portrayed in the action of the shot. I also wanted to capture the action of the women who compete in barrel-racing. There’s a real finesse in how they circle the barrel without knocking it over. The one thing that strikes me about Sherry is her poise. She is extremely poised. I then added a little bit of dirt and spray to get that dynamic energy.”
Beyond promoting the region’s iconic rodeo, the poster represents the diverse demographics of this sport. This is one of the first years a woman has appeared as the face of the rodeo.
“From the get-go, the intention was to have Sherry as the subject,” explains Sarah.
“Typically, the poster’s subject is determined by committee. What’s unique about this year is that from the beginning, there was a desire to use someone local. Since Sherry is both a local and a huge inspiration to young women, she seemed a natural choice for this year’s poster.”
Sherry is also proud of her connection to this year’s poster. “I think it’s pretty cool to be on the poster. Rodeo has such a great history in this region, and I’m honored to be the face of this year’s event. It’s even cooler to be one of the first women on a poster. Fans love barrel-racing because it’s so fast, and it’s the only event that’s primarily women. It makes sense that they would pick a barrel-racer, and I’m honored that they picked me.”
The gender of both the subject and the artist is a unique element of this year’s poster. Their hometown, however, is steeped in rodeo history. Both Sarah and Sherry hail from the Town of Marana. As a lifelong resident, Sherry has spent her whole life around horses. Her family, the Potters, have lived in Marana for forty years, and Sherry is a graduate of Marana’s schools. For the past 22 years, she has toured the country attending rodeo competitions, but has always been proud to call Marana home. Even Stingray, Sherry’s horse, was born and bred within the Town limits.
“This is an agriculture-based community. We can have horses and live the country life, but still be 20 minutes from town. My family is here, which is especially important for me,” says Sherry.
Sherry and Sarah are not alone in taking advantage of Marana’s strategic location and environment. This community is rural enough to offer open land for riding and pastures, but close enough to Arizona’s cities to offer quick access to major rodeo events. Spectators attending La Fiesta de los Vaqueros can also enjoy these same benefits. Marana offers 12 hotels just a short drive from the rodeo grounds. Guests in Marana will enjoy not only proximity to this festive event, but will also be surrounded by a culture inseparable from rodeo history.
Marana lies at the intersection between rural and urban, and proudly embraces both worlds. Visitors planning to attend this year’s La Fiesta de los Vaqueros can find no better place to immerse themselves in that culture than Marana.
Put your boots on and book your stay today at DiscoverMarana.org.