Hayden’s Ferry Days


Hayden’s Ferry Days is an annual celebration to raise awareness of the rich culture and history of Tempe and involve community members of all ages in an engaging, informative and entertaining way. The Tempe Historical Society is proud to be a part of Tempe’s rich heritage and its future. This year, the Tempe Historical Society is celebrating its 49th anniversary.


Hayden’s Ferry Days is a series of individual events in multiple venues over several days. Each event is organized by a variety of Tempe’s non-profit organizations and businesses who care about preserving and sharing our community’s history and culture. Each event showcases several locations and historic sites. It is designed to showcase Tempe’s rich cultural and historic resources and highlight the unique contributions of each participating organization.      


The first settlers to move to the Tempe area, south of the Salt River and east of Phoenix, were Hispanic families from southern Arizona. They helped construct the two first irrigation canals, the Kirkland-McKinney Ditch and the San Francisco Canal, and started small farms to the east and west of a large butte (Tempe Butte). In 1872, some of these Mexican settlers founded a town called San Pablo east of Tempe Butte.  Another settlement, known as Hayden’s Ferry, developed west of Tempe Butte. Charles Trumbull Hayden, owner of a mercantile and freighting business in Tucson, homesteaded this location in 1870. Within a few years, he had built a store and flourmill, warehouses and blacksmith shops, and a ferry. This community became the trade center for the south side of the Salt River Valley. Both settlements grew quickly and soon formed one community. The town was named Tempe in 1879.


Kick off Hayden’s Ferry Days with a fabulous dinner prepared early frontier style in Dutch Ovens by the prizewinning 5th generation Arizonans who founded the EZ Cattle Company. Family members, dressed in period costume, will prepare a delicious prime rib and chicken menu. In addition, Joe Spracale, a longtime Tempe educator who is beloved by generations of students who passed through McKemy School, (now Tempe’s International Academy), will speak at the event. And, enjoy the music of Three Horse Town!

This delicious, fun and interesting evening is part of the three-day Hayden’s Ferry Days celebration. After dinner on Friday, join us for a free community festival on the grounds of Tempe History Museum on Saturday. The weekend culminates with tours of historic places starting with the Walk Thru History in downtown Tempe and continuing with visits to historic houses.

  • Founders Dinner Tickets, $50 each or $45 each for multiple tickets. The Founder’s Dinner is hosted by Tempe Sister Cities Organization and the Tempe Historical Society, and will be held at the historic Hackett House in Tempe. 


The 3rd Annual Hayden’s Ferry Day Festival will be held at the Tempe History Museum and will highlight the museum, entry plaza, and community exhibits. In addition to surrounding the museum grounds with displays, antique & collectibles sale, booths, demonstrators, and food trucks, we will showcase outstanding local and regional arts, music, and culture. Free festival. Small admission fee for Vintage & Antique Market and for appraisals. If you would like to be a vendor in the market, the form is due February 24. 


Hayden’s Ferry Days Sunday’s events open with the Walk Through History Tour showcasing historic buildings in downtown Tempe. Our day continues with tours of the Petersen, Hackett, Eisendrath and Elias-Rodriguez historic houses. The day is completed with an Afternoon Tea at the at the historic Eisendrath house [Tickets, Sold Out]. Historic house tours are free [donations welcome].

This celebration of Tempe’s history is made possible by community partners and sponsors.

Event Sponsors & Donors

  • Jerry W. Brock Foundation
  • Wexford Developments
  • City of Tempe and Tempe Municipal Arts Fund
  • Arizona State University, Office of Government & Community Engagement
  • Sender Associates Law Firm
  • Lakeshore Music – Stage Sponsor
  • Friends of Tempe Public Library
  • Tempe Firefighters Union – Local 393
  • Tempe Tourism
  • PADT, Inc
  • Swire Coca-Cola USA
  • The Opus Group

Steering Committee Members / Community Partners

  • Tempe History Museum
  • Tempe Sister Cities Association
  • Rio Salado Foundation
  • Friends of Tempe Public Library
  • Tempe Historic Preservation Foundation

Supporting Organizations & Volunteers

  • Guess Birchett Questers – Hosts for Elias-Rodriguez House
  • Hayden’s Ferry Questers – Presenters of Vintage & Antique Indoor Market
  • Veteran’s History Project – Festival Participant