WILLCOX — Joe Cannon may be a bit too old to shoe his horses these days, but that doesn’t prevent him saddling up and riding the ranch.
“I’m not tired yet; I think I’ll stay around a while longer. Everything seems to be going pretty good,” he said.
Cannon was inducted to the Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame last Thursday, along with posthumous inductee Jim Tout.
“If you ever crossed paths with my grandfather, you were truly blessed,” said Tout’s grandson, Chance Fraze.
Cannon began cowboying at age 13 for the McMillian Ranch in Silver City, N.M., helping run 1,600 head of mother cows. From there he went to the Diamond A’, and to the Little Boquillas on the San Pedro River — that’s where he met Daisy Mae Keith; and, at age 17, Joe and Daisy Mae began their 62 years together.
In 1970, Joe and Daisy Mae bought the K7 Ranch in Clifton, and that became the new home for his cowherd. The ranch features just one road into the house and one road out, is steep, with catclaw 20-feet high, and it has five miles of the Gila River running through it.
When ranching failed to bring in enough revenue, he went to work for the nearby copper mine; but it was ranching that was his true love.
“Being a cowboy is all I ever wanted to do, and I treat people how I want to be treated,” he said. “This Cowboy Hall of Fame means quite a bit. I guess they will remember me when I’m gone.”
Tout was born Aug. 15, 1930, in Tucson; and his early years were split between Tucson and the Mascot Mine in the Dos Cabezas. Despite working the mine during summer vacations, it was ranching that Tout wanted to do, so he majored in agriculture and plant science at the University of Arizona.
After being discharged from the Army, Tout and his new bride, Peg Allen, found work on a ranch just outside Tucson, a ranch Peg called the “Cactus Patch Ranch.”
From there the couple worked ranches in Globe, Patagonia, Sasabe and the Bootheel of New Mexico. It was in 1984, he made it back to Willcox, and for the next 32 years, he worked on Cienega Ranch.
Jim had many sayings that he liked to live by, including, “The best thing to do is sit in the back of the room and listen to what is going on,” and, “Always be aware of a man who only owns one gun.”
Jim was a member of the first Arizona Jr. Cattle Growers Association, a member of the Arizona Cattle Growers Association, active with the Gila County Cattle Growers when in Globe, served as a director of the Cochise-Graham Cattle Growers and was on the board of directors for the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension in Willcox.
Tout passed away Oct. 7, 2017.
WILLCOX — Locals celebrated one of their heroes at this year’s Rex Allen Days.
A gathering that celebrates the life and achievements of singing cowboy Rex Allen, this year marks the 69th annual Rex Allen Days event.
According to Michael Clement, who is on the Rex Allen Days Committee, this year’s event attendance was healthy.
“The Wild Bunch Film Festival reported much larger crowds. The gun show vendors bought and sold, and were happy, and the rodeo stands were standing along the fence-only on Saturday. This drew even a larger-than-recent norm for Sunday,” Clement said.
The official start of the event began Friday, Oct. 4, with the annual gun show, carnival and vendors. On Saturday, the Rex Allen Days Parade kicked off at 10 a.m., followed by live entertainment in Keiller Park, a car show, rodeo, as well as a free concert by Rex Allen Jr. at Windmill Park. Festivities continued through Sunday, with rodeo, another gun show, cowboy church at Quail Park Arena and the final day of the carnival.
“For someone who has never been to Rex Allen Days, they are missing out on the chance to see what a small rural city can do to honor one of its homegrown heroes. To a lot of us, especially natives, at least to me, he (Rex Allen) is a hero. He went out from Willcox into the world and became a movie star and a famous country western singer and never forgot where he came from,” said Rex Allen Days Committee President Jody Clement.
This year’s Rex Allen Days reina is Angeliana Martinez, from Willcox High School; the Rex Allen Days princesses are Selena Verdugo, from Willcox High School, Giselle Molina, from Bowie High School, and Gabriela Salas, from Bowie High School.
“Reina and princesses will be crowned during the pregame activities at Friday night’s homecoming game, and they will be participating in the parade,” said Rex Allen Days Reina Chair Rachel Garza. “They will also be participating in events over the upcoming year.”
The rodeo is one of the biggest draws of the event. Dennis Williams, Rex Allen Days Rodeo Committee rodeo chair, has orchestrated the event for 10 years. The rodeo itself is on the Grand Canyon Rodeo Circuit. According to Williams, Rex Allen Days Rodeo is the second-best in the circuit.
“The only way that there’s a rodeo better than us is the Holbrook County Fair Rodeo. They don’t put in any extra added money more than we do, but they get so many more contestants from the Navajo Tribe that it runs up the payoff on the rodeo, that it makes it a higher-paying rodeo,” Williams said, “but I feel we got the best stock contractor. His bucking horses are NFR quality. I’ve had a lot of the rough stock competitors tell me that they’re not going to go to the rodeos where the other contractors are because the key to being a competitor in these things is what is referred to as the draw. They draw everybody a horse out of a hat. A good stock contractor, all of his horses will be as even as possible. So no matter what you draw, you have a chance to win. Some of these other stock contractors don’t have that.”