March 15, 2006 - Marana existed long before the town became incorporated in 1977.

Former mayor Ora Mae Harn plans to get that point across during Marana's Founders' Day celebration on March 18.

"To me, not knowing where you come from, you can't know where you're going," Harn said.

She has organized "Follow the River," a collection of exhibits tracing Marana's heritage in relation to the Santa Cruz River. People can find the display on the tennis courts of Ora Mae Harn Park during Founders' Day.

"Follow the River" will explain Marana's history, from prehistoric times to incorporation with exhibits, displays and performances.

The history exhibits will include:

€ More than 10 exhibits, including information on the Santa Cruz River, early Indian tribes, cattle ranching, transportation, mining, agriculture, military and town incorporation.

€ The Arizona Rose Theatre Co. will perform an original play, also titled "Follow the River."

€ Members of the Tohono O'odham Nation and archaeologists will station themselves on the tennis courts, too.

€ Desert Heritage Breeds will bring a trailer of Spanish Barb horses similar to the ones first brought to the region by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a Jesuit priest who is believed to be the first European to explore the Marana area.

€ An adobe artist will show children how to make animals from un-dried clay and straw. People can also take part in the painting of a community mural. Twenty-five arts and crafts vendors have signed on to take part in Founders' Day.

€ Old farm equipment will be on display, representing the area's cotton-growing heyday. If she can find a way to move it, Harn plans to bring an ore car sitting in her backyard to the park. She plans to put her brother's World War II Army uniform on a mannequin as part of the military history exhibit.

€ Larry Marshall of the Santa Cruz River Alliance will explain the Kino Fruit Trees Project, an effort aimed at getting Spanish-period fruit trees back in Arizona's orchards.

€ An interview booth will allow Marana residents to talk about the old times, while tape recording their conversations.

"There used to be 20 or 30 farmers," said Dan Post, a rancher and a Marana Unified School District board member.

"Now, you only have four or five different farmers, and they lease land from developers."

Post still ranches about 4,500 acres, all owned by developers. His father, Ed Post, in 1920 single-handedly kicked off Marana's cotton-growing period by drilling holes in the desert ground and creating an irrigation system used by other families who moved to the area.

The historical displays also will include an exhibit featuring the plans for Marana's heritage park, which will be located behind the Gladden Farms development, on the bank of the Santa Cruz River.

Harn envisions a linear museum along a 15-mile stretch of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historical Trail that passes through town limits. Members from regional heritage societies will tout the plan at the Founders' Day celebrations.

The grand marshal of this year's celebration will be the McDuff family. Frank McDuff in 1936 helped build the Producer's Cotton Gin, located at the Marana/I-10 interchange.

A replica of the gin buildings is planned for the town's heritage park.

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