Mar 252011

By Tammy Gray-Searles —

Falling perfectly between the chill of winter and the roaring Northern Arizona spring winds, March 18 turned out to be the right day to hold the re-opening celebration for Homolovi State Park.

The sunny day brought out more than 400 people, including elected officials, state parks board members and Hopi tribal leaders, for the festivities. In addition to guided tours of the ancient kivas, visitors were treated to demonstrations, lectures and dances, and were also invited to plant corn, beans and cotton in the traditional Hopi way.

Re-opening of the park brings not only an opportunity for education and entertainment, but an important source of indirect revenue for Winslow and the Hopi Tribe. Hopi officials agreed to fund the park’s operations over the next year, although the state parks department remains in charge of operations.

In addition to the funding agreement, Hopi leaders requested that the park’s name be changed to remove the word “ruins.” Parks board members approved the request on March 17, simplifying the name to Homolovi State Park.

Homolovi was closed due to state budget cuts after it was found to be one of the more costly parks for the state to operate. A Northern Arizona University study found, however, that Homolovi has a positive $3.5 million an-nual impact on Navajo County. The study estimated that 44 full-time jobs were impacted by the closure.

NAU researchers found in 2008 that visitors contributed a total of $2.6 million directly to the economy and just under $900,000 indirectly. The average Homolovi visitor spent a total of $227 in the area while visiting the park, including admission fees, souvenirs, dining, fuel, snacks and lodging.

In addition to economic benefits, Homolovi is an important resource for educators and researchers.

During the re-opening celebration, visitors learned about the religious and cultural importance of the kivas on the site, the origins of the Hopi language and about continuing Hopi traditions, like dry farming.

The following day, several guided tours of the park were offered by archaeologists from the University of Ari-zona. Tours were also offered on Sunday. According to the state parks department, more than 570 people partici-pated over the course of three days.

A ceremonial planting of the terraced garden at Homolovi is still being planned for April, with the date to be announced.

The park’s regular operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Camping is also available. For more information, contact Homolovi State Park staff at (928) 289-4106.