CAMP VERDE - As a military post, Fort Verde lasted just 20 years.
As a state park it has been around for 40.
This coming weekend, Oct. 8-10, it will celebrate the 54th year in which it has been the reason for celebration.
Fort Verde Days, one of the valley's oldest continuously celebrated events, will kick of with a carnival and bull riding event on Friday evening, fire off on Saturday to the cannon blast, followed by a parade and gobs of events at Fort Verde and around town and then go at it one more time on Sunday.
As the name implies, it celebrates the military post around which the valley first settlement grew. But it also serves as a homecoming for hundreds of folks who once made the Verde Valley their home.
And as the name implies, most of the events take place at or near Fort Verde, including the signature parade down Main Street.
The parade, arguably the biggest in the valley, is the consummate small town affair, featuring everything from Camp Verde's good will ambassador (a.k.a. the Colonels' Daughter), to marching dancers and dancing marchers, horses, old cars and a shiny fire truck or two.
Fort Verde will host several events including a fashion show, reenactors, an 1870's church service and a vintage baseball game. There will also be history presentations on the real Colonel's daughter (Carrie Wilkins) and the famous scout Mickey Free, who served out of Fort Verde for almost four years.
The Camp Verde Historical Society will present a 1920's wedding at the George Hance house on the north end of the parade ground. They will open the newly remodeled rock jail on Hollamon Street for tours and they will be selling their new Images of America pictorial history book of Camp Verde.
The Kiwanis will host a pre-parade breakfast in the Community Center on Saturday morning starting at 7:30. The VFW will host a Camp Verde High School reunion lunch at noon on Saturday. And there will be a roping at Arena del Loma, Saturday and Sunday starting at 10 a.m.
As a thanks to the greater Verde Valley community and the citizens of Camp Verde in particular, for all they have done to keep the doors open, Fort Verde State Historic Park will waive admission fees both Saturday and Sunday. Donations, however, will be gratefully accepted.