Festival at Empire Ranch, Sonoita, Arizona – Part 2

Lots of photos today!

I have so many photos to share that I’ll get right to it.  The pictures tell the story of the 2018 Empire Ranch Cowboy Festival as well as any words I might put together.

Let’s start with the dancing horses . . . .

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I hear music!

I head toward the stage.  On the way I buy a bag of kettle corn.

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As I sit on a bale of hay listening to cowboy ballads and munching kettle corn . . . .

What a lovely November day!

 I’m glad I didn’t bring Reggie and Roger.  They would’ve gone nuts around all the horses, especially Roger.  By now he’d be hoarse from barking.

Mmm . . . This kettle corn is pretty good.  Here I am seventy years old and I never had kettle corn before!

 Ha!  There’s always something to keep living for.

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A Great Pyrenees!

“Hi, there!  Got the day off from guard duty, eh?”

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This beauty wraps up my report on the 2018 Empire Ranch Cowboy Festival.

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I hope you enjoyed the festival!

Until next year . . .



These links will take you to products that readers recently ordered from Amazon.  Your orders are appreciated.  — Sue

Musical Note Charm
Santa Fe Border Print Dress
Boostcube 12W USB Wall Charger
Hitch Tightener, Anti-Rattle Stabilizer
Sustainable Seed Company Herb Collection
Foldable Lightweight Duffel for Travel and Gym


Thank you for your comment under the previous post reminding readers why I post links to Amazon and how to use them.  You are so thoughtful and considerate.  Give Gracie Pup and yourself a hug from me! — Sue

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RVSue and her canine crew is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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76 Responses to Festival at Empire Ranch, Sonoita, Arizona – Part 2

  1. Pat McClain says:


    Beautiful horse pics!

  2. Pam and Maya in Ajo for the winter! says:

    All I can say is WOW! Incredible photos, Thank you!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Pam and Maya. I hope you’re having a great time in Ajo. The weather in southern AZ has been ideal.

  3. Alice says:

    great photos. thank you…..

  4. Elaine Magliacane says:

    Love the horses so beautiful

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Obviously I agree with you, Elaine! I liked all of them, but I did find myself enamored with the black. A very spirited horse, smaller than the others, and possessing a dainty step when dancing.

  5. Oh so many beautiful horses. Love the festival. Thank you for sharing

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Judy. I was looking forward to the festival for several weeks. I didn’t want to miss it!

  6. Ruthie in Fontana says:

    Great pictures, I love the relationship between horse and rider. Trust. I had kettle corn for the first time at the NASCAR races. So good.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That horse-and-rider relationship has always fascinated me, all the way back to the Lone Ranger and My Friend Flicka shows on tv. I had hoped to experience it myself but I never made it happen.

      Now I’m happy and content to witness it because it’s a wonderful thing to see.

  7. ReneeG from Idaho says:

    Wonderful photos and I especially love the Pyrenees.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Renee!

      Isn’t that a gorgeous dog? I love the expression in the eyes….

      • ReneeG from Idaho says:

        Indeed. They always appear so calm, yet when they are guarding they are working and we keep our distance. We’ve encountered them with a herd in the mountains boondocking. In fact, one particular morning we awoke to find sheep all around and two Pyrenees outside our fifth wheel laying down. We didn’t go out with our dogs till they got up and left which wasn’t too long. They would’ve seen our dogs as threats.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You remind me of the shepherds I met in southern Idaho. They had driven their flock from Blythe in southern California where I had taken several photos of sheep, maybe the same ones. Stuff like waking up to sheep and guard dogs outside one’s door is one of the joys of boondocking. I’m glad you were given this one!

  8. Marilyn in Dania Beach says:

    Sue, Don’t feel badly about the kettle corn. I am 76 and a month ago I saw an Amish man and wife making kettle corn for the first time. I didn’t eat any as I cannot. Their ratio of corn to salt was one cup each plus the oil. I couldn’t see how much oil was in the tin pitcher but he put one kernel of corn in it before pouring into the kettle. Once it popped he added the corn and salt. It was hot work with the logs burning under the kettle. He wore blacksmith’s gloves and apron. His wife sold the finish product. I found it interesting.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Yes, that is interesting, Marilyn.

      This kettle corn I had was sweet. I didn’t detect salt. I guess there’s more than one way to make it.

  9. Seana in AZ (for now!!) says:

    Oh how fun, Sue! The peace of mind you get from knowing your boys are safe and comfortable at (your!) home truly lets you enjoy the festival to the fullest. I’m very happy you gifted yourself this little get-away to balance the disharmony that’s visited your life recently. No one ever knows what’s coming for you around the corner, but keeping your head up is a great way to ready yourself for the next wave. Dancing horses can’t hurt either.
    Blessed be, RVSue 🙂

  10. Reine in Princeton, TX (when not camping) says:

    What a fun day. So glad you’re in an area with neat stuff happening.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Reine!

      This is a great area in which to live. I’m very pleased and grateful to have a house here, just as you are to have yours in Princeton. I plan to attend the festival every November. It will become a part of the annual cycle of my life. 🙂

  11. Barbara (Nashville) says:

    The festival looked fun. I love the dancing horses. The brown horse with the red socks has the coolest wavy mane. I am partial to the gray horse with the white mane, though. The paint is also a beauty.
    The great Pyrenees was a stunning dog. Looked like he was enjoying himself.

    Take care and give the boys a scratch/hug for me.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Barbara,

      I’ve enjoyed your excitement over your kitchen remodel. Were the countertops put in yesterday?

      Yeah, the Great Pyrenees was receiving a lot of friendly attention. People couldn’t walk by without touching and cooing.

      The horses looked like they receive a lot of attention, too. Sending a scratch/hug to Angel. 🙂

  12. Becky in NJ says:

    Those horses appear to be of the breed called Paso Fino. They are naturally “gaited”, similar to. American Saddlebreds and Tennessee Walkers. They provide a very smooth ride!
    Kettle Corn is the best!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Becky,

      Thanks for the information. I researched the Paso Fino…

      “It is the lateral four-beat gait that distinguishes the Paso Fino in the equestrian world. As it moves, the horse’s feet fall in a natural lateral pattern instead of the more common diagonal pattern. Rather than trotting, causing that seat thumping bounce that can be unpleasant for horse and rider, the Paso Finn’s medium speed is a corto, during which the rider is reassuringly seated.

      . . . .

      “The gait itself is evenly spaced, with each foot contacting the ground independently. The power of movement is generated primarily from the hind legs, and the impact of footfall is dissipated before it can reach the rider so that the ride is incomparably smooth.”

      I wish I had known this before seeing the horses. As it was I didn’t pay attention to their gait with any understanding.

      The above quote is from afs.okstate.edu. Well worth reading the article…

      • Becky in NJ says:

        Good research on your part! Now you have a reason to go back next time, to watch the horses’ movement with your new info! I have known some people here in the east to have Pasos, they make excellent trail riding horses. They can also be trained to perform dancing type movements, as you saw.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Lovely photos of the horses, Sue…glad you got to experience some new things. How nice they do this in the Fall when it is not so hot and can be enjoyable!! The town we lived in when I was a teenager had several parades and one in July just before the rodeo. We liked going to both…as we got older however, it bothered us seeing the calf roping at the rodeo…last one we went to, the calf died when its neck was broken instantly. Also some clowns and riders were injured by the bulls. We decided we did not want to go to rodeos anymore. Wish we could still see horses doing their fancy walking and barrel runs etc. however. Looks like what you saw was all pleasurable!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Elizabeth,

      I’m sorry for what you witnessed at the rodeo. I don’t know the details… how long ago this happened, what type of rodeo, etc. I went to a rodeo featuring young people who showed off their horsemanship and roping skills. Respect was shown for all animals. None hurt, nothing more than being chased for less than a minute. You can still see things like “barrel runs.” Check out the amateur rodeos. Those high schoolers work hard at caring for their animals, training them, and learning how to ride with skill.

  14. Columbus Calvin says:

    I’m not 100% sure, but I think “kettle corn” is popcorn made in a kettle. Am I right?

    I’ve ridden horses twice in my life. The first time, I fell off twice in one ride. The second time, I gave up after falling off once. I do better with bicycles and motorcycles.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That’s right. It’s popcorn made in a kettle, not a particular recipe.

      Yeah, we aren’t all suited for horseback. And not all can handle motorcycles. 🙂

  15. Dawn in Michigan says:

    Wonderful beautiful horses! And great pictures!

  16. Marcia GB in MA says:

    Wow! Those horses are gorgeous. Love your photos! What a great day you had.

  17. Carolyn H says:

    Great pictures! Looks like you had a good time. Kettle Korn is very tasty, but only when it is first made. Not so good the next day.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Carolyn! The Kettle Korn disappeared before I lifted my behind off that hay bale. Ha!

  18. weather says:

    Beautiful photos again, Sue! You make it seem as though it’s easy to capture so many with people, flags, lasso, and creatures in motion without the pictures looking blurry. Earlier I was out trying to take pictures of a lot of trees that still are full of autumn colors. Though today we only we have a light breeze most of the leaves in my pictures aren’t clear and crisp. I’m still glad I went out though, it’s a gorgeous day and likely we won’t have one this warm again for quite some time.

    It’s nice to see that a good sized crowd attended the festival. It must be a lot of work to put it together. Just transporting the horses would probably make for a long day for them and their owners. I love seeing the wavy black mane and tail on the brown horse, both because it looks great and because that means earlier someone had taken the time to braid the hair to make it turn out that way. The horses I’ve known loved to be groomed, whatever that involved.

    Kettle corn is a fun treat, I’m glad you tried it. Seeing cowboys on stage is another treat, I’m a fan of most country music, I hope you enjoyed whatever kind they played.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, weather!

      Thank you. Sounds like you had another beautiful autumn New York day! 🙂

      The cowboy singing group is called The Cowboy Way. The trio was chosen as the 2017 Group of the Year by the Western Music Association. You can listen to their music here.

      The song I liked the best isn’t included at that website and I don’t remember the name of it. The lyric was about a boy leaving the farm at age 12, going out west, and becoming a cowboy with no regrets. Well written, well played, and well sung.

      Yes, a lot of work goes into the festival. This was the 18th one so they know what they’re doing. 🙂 I didn’t report half of what took place as one can see from the program. It will probably be a couple years before I get to experience all of it!


      • weather says:

        Thank you for putting the links here, Sue. I listened to their music, and especially enjoyed “Old New Mexico Moon”. After seeing the program I understand why you plan to make the festival a part of the annual cycle of your life. They have so many interesting, educational and entertaining things there happening at the same time. There’s no way one could see everything by attending it just once.

        The silversmithing demonstration would fascinate me. I was at an auction once and saw a box with a few copper and silver dishes, all tarnished, dented and not attractive. I paid $5 just to have the metals because I’d like to learn how to make things with it.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You’re welcome, weather. Maybe you will come to southern Arizona and go to the festival yourself. 🙂

  19. Hilogene in Az says:

    Thanks so much for posting about this festival, and all the photos. Never been to this festival, I have it on my calendar for next year!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Hilogene! You’re welcome!

      Do go to the festival next year. If you’d like a better idea of all that there is to experience, see the link I posted in reply to weather’s comment.

  20. Pauline in Mississippi says:

    Oh, what fun!!!! I love the pictures of course. Sitting on a hay bale eating kettle corn….that must have been wonderful on such a pretty day. I have never had kettle corn either. So glad you had a great day.
    Love to you and the crew

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pauline!

      It was a lot of fun! I’m on a popcorn kick now. I found a new “air” popcorn popper at the thrift shop for $3 so I’m all set.

      Love to you and every one of the Mississippi family! Hope y’all are well and happy. 🙂

  21. jean in Southaven, ms says:

    Hi, Sue. Great pictures of the horses. Horses are so much a part of the culture of the Western US. The festival looked like a lot of fun. It did look mighty dusty though. The dog was a beauty. Seemed to be enjoying itself. I have been fighting intestinal issues with my big dog Fatman. He has lost almost 30 lbs sense June and will not eat. He now has more pill than Carter and special food. This is the second round. The first round of meds worked as long as he was on them, but as soon as they were gone he was right back to where he was. I pray this works. Today is first full day on the regimen and he seems to be perking up just a bit. He is 8 years old and such a great big gentle soul.

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures. I still think you should think about a book of some of your beautiful pictures.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jean,

      Thank you for your nice words about my pictures. I’m sorry your dear Fatman is having problems and hope this latest treatment takes care of it. I know you’ve been worried. Thirty pounds is a lot of weight for a dog to lose, although if he started out really fat, maybe once his system settles down, he’ll be healthier than before.

      Good sign that he’s “perking up.” I hope every day he’s better than the day before!

  22. Ruthie in Fontana says:


    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1/2 cup popcorn kernels
    1/3 cup sugar
    3/4 teaspoon salt

    Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn and sugar. Give the kernels a quick stir and then cover with a lid. Once the popcorn starts popping, carefully pick the pot up and give it a quick shake every few seconds until the popping slows down, between 3-4 minutes. Remove immediately from the heat and pour the kettle corn into a large bowl.

    Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately. Do not make the mistake of removing the pot from heat without transferring to a bowl. Due to the high heat of the pot, if you don’t transfer the popcorn it will caramelize and perhaps burn.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks for sharing the recipe, Ruthie! That’s how I used to make popcorn, only without the sugar.

      Air popped isn’t as tasty but I have to cut back somewhere!

  23. Denise - Richmond VA says:

    Hi, Sue,

    Gracie pup and I thank you for the hugs! xo 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful day at the festival! Between the gorgeous pictures and your narration, I felt as if I was there, too! The horses, donkey, and dog all look happy and are obviously very well cared for and loved. The horses coats just gleam and their manes have been brushed and styled with great care. The young folks put a lot of time and effort into getting their horses and routines ready for the festival. I bet their parents were bursting with pride! The young lady in the blue costume really lit up the whole ring with her smile. I am glad that you plan to make a visit to the festival an annual event! What fun! 🙂

    As I am not a horse person; I have a question. Is the tape on some of the horses lower legs for decoration or support? Similar to the way athletes are sometimes taped? Thank you for including the link for the Paso Fino. I will enjoy learning more about the breed. They seem to be smaller and finer boned than other horses I have seen in pictures or at the state fair. They all are gorgeous! I really cannot pick a favorite!

    We had an unseasonably warm day today. I took advantage of the sunny, high 60-degree weather, and took a short walk during lunch. Our temps will get back to “normal” tomorrow. Oh! Last night, we had the most stunning evening sky! The western skies were bright blue with a smattering of white clouds, the low sun was a glowing burnished, red-ish, coppery hue. The eastern sky was dark with rain clouds leftover from the stormy day. Smack in the middle of the dark gray was a slice of twin rainbows peaking out between the clouds. What a spectacular sight! Such a drastic contrast! I stood on my front porch in happy awe. I sent up thanks for such a beautiful light show.

    I hope you have a good evening, Sue! Sending you, and adorable Reggie and Roger lots of love and hugs from me and Gracie pup! Thank you again for sharing your great adventure with us! 🙂 xo

    • Denise - Richmond VA says:

      I love my air popper! Since no oil is used to pop the corn, I add a tablespoon of melted, unsalted butter. Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese for flavor and salt. An inexpensive, healthy snack. I have tried a couple brands of popping corn, including store brands. I like Pop Secret the best. Big, fluffy popcorn blooms, and usually just 2 or 3 kernels that don’t pop. Non-GMO is a plus, too. Target carries it. 🙂

      • Denise - Richmond VA says:

        I melt the butter separately in a coffee cup in the microwave. My popper has a little cup on top that you can melt the butter in, but I found it to be more trouble than it is worth.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        I like Pop Secret the best, too!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Denise!

      I love your chatty comments! And I’m glad you were treated to a spectacular sky show!

      I don’t know much about horse care either so I can’t answer your question. You and Gracie Pup have a wonderful day….

      Blogorinos: Is the tape on some of the horses lower legs for decoration or support? Similar to the way athletes are sometimes taped?

      • luvmyhorse-Ohio says:

        Hi Sue,
        I so enjoyed this post…though I thoroughly enjoy every word you write for us!
        There are so many types of hoof and leg apparel for horses! The bay horse (which looks like a Paso Fino to me) with red legwear appears to be wearing polo wraps which offer support to tendons and ligments. Polo wraps also protect the legs from abrasions and cuts should the horse accidentally strike one of its hooves against another of its legs while “dancing”. This horse may not actually “need” the wraps, but wrapping the legs with a contrasting color wrap can really highlight the “dancing” gaits of this breed so sometimes they are simply a fashion accessory.
        I thought I would add a note that I think you captured a cue being given by the vaquero (aka Mexican cowboy) to his mount in the tenth photo. See how the toe of his boot is pointing toward the ground? He is likely touching his horse’s side with either his boot heel or the spur rowel, asking the horse for sideways movement. And for those who might be concerned, spurs used correctly are not cruel. They are not necessarily used to correct or punish a horse, but as an aid to communicate direction to the horse.
        I think the stocky blaze-faced roping horse with two rear white socks is an American Quarter Horse which is the breed i own. QHs don’t dance, but they are quick and biddable.
        Thanks again for sharing your experience with us! Take care.

        • Denise - Richmond VA says:

          Thank you for the information, luvmyhorse! I knew one of Sue’s blogorino’s would have an answer! 🙂

      • Denise - Richmond VA says:


  24. Suzicruzi says:

    Aloha Sue, crew, all 🙂

    We are at a boondock about 4500’ in el outside Milford CA, off 395 SB. How do you spell “peace and quiet”? Not a soul around as was last night somewhere outside of McCloud, CA in the Shasta Trinity Forest. I suppose with overnight lows in the high 20’s, most folks are down S by now. We will skip on past Reno and Carson City in the morning, and make a run for Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills. It’s still in the 40’s there overnight. Odd but true! We will continue S on 395 until we hit Joshua Tree.

    We came equipped with down sleeping bags, an some cinnamon whiskey, so we are sleeping quite toasty in our little Casita. We are tucked in with ginger tea and a homemade shortbread cookie that a friend sent us off on our journey with. I’d have to say, Life IS Good!

    Lovely horsey photos. I love horses! Some of the ones in your photo gallery are just beautiful! I’m glad you are happy and doing well Sue; You AND those two cuties of yours.

    Cheers all!
    Suzi, Larry, & of course, Kitty

    • Denise - Richmond VA says:

      Hi, Suzicruzi,

      Sounds like you all are having a wonderful trip! Thank you for sharing! Fireball whiskey definitely will warm your insides. 🙂 Enjoy! Safe travels! 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Suzi, Larry, & of course, Kitty!

      Thanks for another interesting report and sweet note to me and my boys. Your description of the cold outside and the coziness inside brought me there.

      Good idea to hustle on down to Lone Pine where the elevation is lower and the temps are higher. Have a great camp!

  25. Paula in Indiana says:

    Hi Sue,
    I have so enjoyed all the cowboy festival photos. Those are great action shots of the man with the lasso! And you’ve got me craving kettle corn 😉

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Paula!

      It was fun watching the man show his skill with the lasso. What made it especially enjoyable was his own obvious enjoyment in what he was doing.

  26. Eileen says:

    Gr8 pics. Those horses are magnificent beauties….. and kettle corn is one of my favorite snacks!

  27. Steve says:

    Thanks Sue for posting all of those great photos. I love seeing photos of horses. Of course it’s never a bad thing to end the post with a dog photo either. All beautiful animals.

  28. Terri in Tx. says:

    Enjoyed the photos very much! And thanks, Ruthie, for the recipe for Kettle corn! I will try it!

  29. Jean says:

    Loved the picture. Sounded like a wonderful day.
    Kettle corn is pretty popular here in southern Mi. and in Shipshewana Indiana where it is freshly made at the flea market.

  30. Kathy (NC) says:

    Beautiful horses – thank you so much for these photos! We used to do a lot of dressage (many years ago) so this was a real pleasure. So glad you had such a good day out.

  31. Cynthia in San Clemente says:

    The horses are spectacular, made even better by your photos. I wondered about the wavy manes – are those natural or do you think they braid them wet and them let them dry, like high school girls???

    Did you like the kettle corn? I enjoy it but the only time I ever cracked a tooth was at the Orange County Fair, eating kettle corn!

  32. Anita says:

    I’m glad this is not Facebook…but sometimes I wish I had a LIKE button when one of your photos touch me. Today I would have over used that LIKE button. You did a great job of prompting my imagination! I feel as I had been there walking and taking in the sights!

  33. Laura Ours says:

    You had never eaten Kettle Korn? Glad you got to experience that tasty treat!

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