A doubling of the prize money for bareback and bull riders is drawing some of the country's top rodeo cowboys to Payson this weekend.
The Tonto Apache Tribe and the Mazatzal Casino have added $2,400 in prize money to the two events, meaning a total of $4,800 will go to the winner of each.
Action kicks off at the Payson rodeo grounds Thursday at 6:30 p.m. with barrel racing and other women's events. Admission is a can of food for the Payson Food Bank.
Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events open with a performance Friday at 7 p.m. Shows are also scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.
The extra prize money is drawing top bareback riders such as Scott Jamison, winner of Payson's spring rodeo. Also signed up to compete are Jeffrey Collins, who was second in the world standings as of Aug. 3, Mark Gomes, third in the world standings, and Clint Corey, who was number eight.
Other top competitors include Steve Dollarhide, Milo DeWitt and Jim Bob Custer.
Top bull riders such as Scott Mendes, James Bodreaux, Cody Custer, Jim Bob Custer, Chance Hanhaman, Spook Wiggins and James Paddock, the Indian Nation Champion Bull Rider, are set to ride this weekend in Payson.
Before the pros show their mettle at each performance, youngsters will test their skills at rodeo-like events. Mutton Bustin' will lead off each rodeo performance starting Friday night. Little cowpokes under 50 pounds will do their best to stay aboard the wooly beasts as they charge out of the chutes
Also, REACh (Rodeo Education and Children) programs will be held before each performance to give children an insider's look at the life of a rodeo cowboy.
The Beeline Highway will be closed Saturday morning between Rancho Road and Highway 260 for the annual rodeo parade. The parade starts rolling south at 9 a.m.
Tickets for the weekend rodeo performances are $12 for adults, $6 for children 6 to 12, and those under 5 get in free. If you get down to the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce office at Main and Beeline, tickets for Friday night and Sunday afternoon are two for the price of one.
For more information, contact the chamber at 474-4515, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the chamber's website at www.rimcountry.com.