About a year after I moved into town, my significant other, Mike, and I took Mike’s mother to the local museum. It was our first visit to the museum and in all honesty, we weren’t expecting much. After all, it doesn’t look like much from the street and Wickenburg’s downtown area has more “Not a Retail Outlet” office space than tourist attractions. But desperate for something easy to do with a 70+ year old woman and not willing to take a drive to Scottsdale for shopping (like she wanted), we figured we’d give it a try.
The Desert Caballeros Western Museum
What a surprise! Hidden inside that small-looking building on Frontier Street is an amazing collection of art, historical exhibits, and minerals. You can spend hours in there just wandering through the permanent exhibits. And, as we learned during later visits, each time a new exhibit opens, there are more great things to explore.
Needless to say, we’ve gone to the museum quite a few times since that first visit years ago. I’ve recommended it to a number of people, all of which confirmed that the museum was a pleasant surprise and a real gem. I even organized two trips to the museum for pilots visiting the local airport. Not a single visitor came away disappointed.
But the museum is more than just art, history, and rocks. It’s an entire cultural learning center. What really brought that point home for me was the Dutch Oven cooking demonstration the museum hosted yesterday. Originally scheduled for March 1 (but rained out, if you can believe that), it was described as follows on the museum’s Web site:
March 1, 2003 2:00 p.m.
“Arizona’s Cookin'” Demonstration and Lecture Series: Come and Get It–Cowboy’s Dutch Oven Cooking, Richard Sims, Sharlot Hall Museum
Whether on the cattle drive or cooking for the roundup, a cowboy cooks relied on the dutch oven. The use and lore of this tool of the American West will be demonstrated by the Richard Sims, historian and director of the Sharlot Hall Museum. $10 ($5 members), $55 for the series of seven presentations ($30 for members).
The event, which was held at the Hassayampa River Preserve (another local gem I’ll cover elsewhere on this site one day), was outdoors. About twenty to thirty people showed up. Mr. Sims and his Dutch Oven compadres, pictured here, prepared and served up a meal of biscuits, stew, and peach cobbler, all prepared before our eyes in Dutch Ovens. They answered questions, gave us tips, and told us jokes. By the time it was over, I couldn’t wait until my next camping trip, so I could try out a few new recipes and see if I could make biscuits as light and flaky as theirs.
Dutch Oven Demonstration at the Hassayampa River Preserve
What was really amazing, however, was that this educational and culinary experience only cost me, a museum member, $5.00! Where else can you learn something interesting, be thoroughly entertained, and get a great meal for that?
If you’re a local Wickenburg resident and haven’t visited the museum or attended one of its events, what are you waiting for? Another new exhibit opened just this weekend. If you plan on making a trip to Wickenburg, I urge you to visit the Desert Caballeros Western Museum Web site and get a list of upcoming exhibits and events. Perhaps there’s an interesting event when you’ll be in town. Even if there isn’t the museum should definitely be on your list of things to see in Wickenburg.
My only regret—that I missed the other “Arizona’s Cookin'” events sponsored by the museum. But you can bet I won’t miss them next time around.