Prize Money

Sponsors make pains worthwhile for cowboys

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From the local to the national levels, Rodeo Boss Bill Armstrong has amassed a roster of sponsors for the 116th World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo that will supply funds for a fantastic "Old West" tradition and make some select cowboys and cowgirls extremely happy.

The Payson Pro Rodeo Committee, along with the help of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, attracted big name sponsors United States Tobacco, Copenhagen Skoal Rodeo Program, Dodge Truck Series Rodeo, Chapman Auto Center, Original Coors Chute Out, NAPA, Black Velvet, Swire Coca-Cola and Wrangler Circuit Series.

This, in turn, attracts some of the world's champion cowboys to bedazzle adults and children alike.

Money comes from the local level as well. Since 1995, the Tonto Apache Tribe's Mazatzal Casino has been providing money for the purses for each event. The casino, as well as the tribe, have been major contributors in sponsoring this year's rodeo, helping to up the stakes for each event's winner.

Sponsors have added over $25,000 in donations this year, Mike McDonald, rodeo treasurer said. Not only will this attract more big-name cowboys, but this money will also enhance the entire rodeo production.

It's not hard to see why the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo is also one of the best. With Coors as a sponsor, the Payson rodeo has maintained a reputation as being one of the best small-town rodeos in America.

This rodeo series will have cowboys and cowgirls competing in events including women's barrel racing, bareback riding, calf roping, team roping, bull riding, saddle bronc riding and steer wrestling.

After this, a sight for any sore cowboy's eyes is the continuing sponsor, Justin Boot Company and Justin Heelers. For years, Justin's mobile sports medicine trailer has healed wounded cowboys, and Justin's Sportsmedicine Team will be back again this year lending its healing hand.

The competition is fierce, and only one cowboy will walk or limp away with the purse. But this year, students of Payson and surrounding areas may also walk away with a little dough. Scholarships are awarded to high school and college students for sports, academics and music with the money provided by the sponsors.

"This is our first year of being in total control as the fund-raiser," McDonald said. And they're making that money work for the rodeo, spectators and the community.

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