If large crowds attending the “soft” introductory opening of the recently completed “Be Wild Family Fun Park” addition to Blazin’ M Ranch Wild West dinner theater in Cottonwood are valid predictors, the new owners can claim super success in their expansion.
“We’ve been delighted with large crowds we attracted from throughout the region,” new owners Ryan and Leila Glass said. “We have such positive vibes about the appeal of this place.” More than a year ago, the Glasses purchased the multimillion property from previous longtime owners Dan and Lori Mabery and family.
Hundreds of parents, grandparents and youngsters participated in the spring fest on April 9 and 10. Both days, vending trucks were present to accommodate food and beverage needs.
Free spring festival activities were open to the public. Later, paying guests enjoyed the Chuck Wagon cowboy dinner, followed by the Blazin’ M Ramblers and their live musical entertainment in the climate-controlled barn with an elevated stage.
Attendance during the early April “soft” opening hit its highest numbers as of that date, even though the Blazin’ M Ranch had opened earlier in spring.
Later in May, the actual “Grand Opening” of Be Wild attracted even more former and new visitors when gates opened on Saturday and Sunday, May 7 and 8. Paying attendees had unlimited access to all activities both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Guests participated in wide range of fun activities, such as a nine-hole putt putt golf course, a rock-climbing wall and bungee jumping pad, a Gellyball paintball field, a remote-control car racing track and a bounce house. These features are highly visible near the entrance on the east side of Blazin’ M.
The Glasses said, “When we decided to add the features designed to appeal to kids, we retained the same legacy the Mabery family had over the years — family-friendly, wholesome entertainment that would embarrass no one. Those large crowds their shows attracted over the years had positive economic impact, too.”
Owner Ryan Glass said the pandemic made it difficult to attract visitors and audiences back to the ranch. “COVID shut Blazin’ M down for 18 months. We have to regain attention of the larger ‘out there’ public. We only took ownership a little over a year ago, so you can imagine the intensity of our planning for new programs and new marketing strategy.”
He praised the Town of Cottonwood and local chambers of commerce for being so supportive.
Apparently, their marketing strategy is working. During early mid-March, April and the following weeks, crowds have increased. Out-of-staters are attracted. One couple, Kelly and Keven Karenski from Kalama, Washington, said: “This was a fun place to discover. Great saloon and drinks, super chuck wagon, and lots of enjoyable country music.”
Two other out-of-staters were retired professional women–one a teacher, the other a nurse. Terry Rippetoe, Liberal, Kansas, said, “We flew out to Arizona to see some of my family. We heard about Blazin’ M. We’ve sure got nothing like it back home. We’ll return.” Her friend Lindy Heitschmitt from just across the border in Forgan, Oklahoma, said, “I’d heard about this area and the nearby Red Rock country. I’m so glad we’re here. I’ll want to see it again after the other big innovations are finished.”
CIRCLE THE WAGONS
The innovations Heitschmitt cited are major. One highly visible one is a Conestoga covered wagon made popular during land rush days in the West and Southwest. Glass said he has ordered 30 others.
Glass said, “As soon as approval is granted by the Town of Cottonwood, we’ll finish installing utility lines and literally circle the wagons at the south end of our 8 ½ acres to create a comfortable campsite. The U. S.-manufactured Conestogas will be fully equipped — big bed, bathroom-shower, and more. Some can accommodate up to four people. We’ll also have three ‘Yurts’ — circular tents made of felt or fabric like the Mongolians use. They’ll all be ADA accessible. “These are for ‘Glamping,’ a very popular new kind of camping.”
Another addition will be what Glasses call “a super…attractive wedding area — some 4,000 square feet of carefully sculpted property. We are finishing the design process on that right now.”
The foregoing are in addition to existing attractions like the Copper Spur Saloon, Red Garter Olde Tyme Photo Studio, Wood ’n West Galley, gifts shops, shooting gallery and mechanical bull. Visitors can tour the entire ranch by crawling into an old-fashioned wagon ride pulled by a vintage tractor.
All this new growth requires a fairly large crew. The Glasses have hired about 30 people who work on site at Blazin’ M. Some musicians have professional experience from major entertainment centers like Hollywood and Las Vegas. Worth noting is that Ryan and Leila Glass have lead roles on stage.
(Editor’s note: glamping is defined as a form of camping involving accommodations and facilities more luxurious than traditional camping).
If you want to, as the Glasses say, “Blow your spurs off with fun food and entertainment,” contact the Blazing M Ranch at 928.634.0334 or online at blazinm.com.