It was a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon on June 10, when the crowd began gathering for Buckskin Tavern’s 3 p.m. re-opening and ribbon cutting celebration. Cars were piling in the entrance and folks chatted in small groups at the bar and around the pool tables. Owners Lianne and Chris Kelly greeted people, sometimes saying hello from across the room, and everyone agreed it was a beautiful day for the event.
Milt Cram opened the Buckskin in 1934, featuring “the longest bar in Arizona.” Located just over the border from Kanab, Utah, it was a popular destination for locals, travelers, and people associated with the burgeoning filmmaking industry in Utah’s Little Hollywood. Over the years a dance hall and stage were added, and the legend continued to grow.
Located at 2321 N Main Rd in Fredonia, Ariz., the Buckskin remains a staple in the area, recently starting a new chapter in its long history. Owners Lianne and Chris Kelly, who joined the Kanab Area Chamber of Commerce in May 2023, have refashioned the storied locale into a welcoming destination, featuring a wide selection of domestic, imported, and local craft beers, ciders, seltzers and wine by the glass. Evening schedules include live bands, karaoke, free pool tables, happy hour, open mic nights, line dancing and food trucks. The tavern also provides a drive-through coffee bar from 7 a.m. – 12 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. Saturday, and noon on Sunday.
Chamber vice-president Ron Thomas called everyone together promptly at 3 p.m., and an enthusiastic crowd collected just outside the front door for the ribbon cutting. Ron said, “When I think of the Buckskin, I think of everyone’s stories, and now Lianne and Chris have started a new story here, and it’s exciting!” Kane County Commissioner Celeste Meyeres stopped by for the event, saying, “I like to think of Fredonia and Coconino County as sisters to Kanab and Kane County,” adding that when she pulled up and saw all the cars today it filled her heart.
Chris Kelly told the crowd, “We’re happy to have you here. We see the Buckskin as more than a place to have a beer. It’s a place to get together with your neighbors.” After that he and Lianne took hold of the chamber’s giant scissors and cut the ribbon to enthusiastic cheers.