“An Englishman is a person who does things because they have been done before. An American is a person who does things because they haven’t been done before.”
PHOENIX — A showdown with all the makings of aclassic spaghetti Western is brewing between Cave Creek and Scottsdale, Ariz.
Cave Creek, known for its equestrian lifestyle and open spaces, is trying to rustle the “West’s Most Western Town” motto away from Scottsdale, claiming its neighbor is more slick city than rugged cowtown.
On Monday, the Cave Creek Town Council unanimously and unapologetically approved a resolution staking its claim as the “West’s Most Western Town,” a motto that Scottsdale has maintained for more than 66 years and has trademarked.
Cave Creek Mayor Vincent Francia said, “People come to Cave Creek for the Western experience. People go to Scottsdale for the resorts and lifestyle.”
Scottsdale did not take kindly to Cave Creek’s claim.
Earlier in the day, Scottsdale, after learning of the pending resolution, sent an open letter signed by Mayor Jim Lane to Cave Creek.
It said, “The Code of the West says to ‘remember that some things aren’t for sale,’ and that the West’s Most Western Town … is not something we are going to throw up for grabs. It’s not just a slogan, it’s part of who we are.”
The letter listed a number of reasons supporting Scottsdale’s right to the title, including the Parada del Sol parade and rodeo, the Hashknife Pony Express and more than 100 annual horse events held at WestWorld, stating “more manure is probably shoveled in Scottsdale than anywhere except the U.S. Congress.”
As the sun set in Cave Creek on Monday, the scene outside the town hall, located just a few miles from the Tonto National Forest, took on the feeling of a John Ford film.
Dozens of residents and local business owners, dressed in full Western apparel, waited to enter the chamber.
Three mounted Scottsdale police officers, who rode into the parking lot, came face to face with buffalo Harley Walbanger and his trainer, T.C. Thorstenson of Cave Creek.
Thorstenson has made a name for himself training and performing with buffalo.
At the Cave Creek meeting, Scottsdale City Councilman Dennis Robbins, representing his City Council, rejected Cave Creek’s challenge, saying the title of the West’s Most Western Town is not up for grabs.
“Our brand isn’t for sale,” Robbins said.
In the week leading up to the meeting, Cave Creek rallied behind the resolution, which included reasons the town claims the motto is no longer relevant to Scottsdale: “Cave Creek does not have car dealerships, plastic surgeons, tanning salons, airports, Segway tours, red-light cameras, spring-training facilities, flip-flop shops, Sunglass Huts, buildings higher than two stories or condos the size of two-bedroom apartments that start at $1.5 million.
“Cave Creek is actually both legally and properly called a ‘town’ and not a ‘city,’ hence the title ‘West’s Most Western Town’ … (and) does not pride itself on being ‘the desert’s version of Miami’s South Beach’ or the ‘Cure Corridor’ and only wants to carry its one and true title.”
At stake are millions in tourism dollars that each municipality would like to attract from out-of-state visitors looking for an authentic Western experience.
Challenges between the city and town are scheduled to culminate during Cave Creek’s annual Wild West Days Oct. 31 through Nov. 3, including a Quick Draw Shootout between Cave Creek’s Francia and Scottsdale’s Lane in the parking lot of the Horny Toad restaurant in Cave Creek at high noon Nov. 2.
Despite Scottsdale’s rejection of Cave Creek’s challenge, Francia stands by the claim that his town is the West’s Most Western Town.
“Regardless, the challenge is still there,” he said. “A trademarked motto does not mean that you are living up to what you say you are. Scottsdale is all hat and no cattle.”
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