While cowboys and cowgirls rode off into the sunset Sunday evening, the 116th production of the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo entered local history books as a success. More than $55,000 was awarded to the top competitors in six events.
While no animals suffered serious injury, about 50 cowboys took minor hits, said Rick Foster, athletic director and program director for the Justin Sports Medicine Trailer.
The most serious injury took place Saturday as Scott Honeycutt was trying to put a shoe back on a pick-up horse, and ended up with a nail and a punctured main artery in his left forearm.
Earlier, Honeycutt's right forearm had been "pawed" by one of his family's premier bareback horses. Still, he kept at his duties until Sunday, when he was unable to throw a rope in the team roping competition. For the bull-riding event, his younger sister, Janet, took his place as "pick-up man".
"There are only two people who could replace me," Honeycutt said with a dirty-faced grin as he loaded bulls into a trailer. "That's my brother Jerry or my sister."
The rodeo's most surreal drama, however, took place outside of the arena, where Payson Ranger District Office employees erected a two-and-a-half story, $11,500 cold air balloon in the shape of Smokey Bear's head.
When the rangers took a dinner break between rodeos, they left the balloon in the care of firefighter Dave Walters who did fine until Smokey's head was assaulted by a wind devil and torn from Walters' grasp.
Shrieks were heard as the huge balloon, free of its tethers, tumbled through the sky. It landed about 200 yards across the parking lot, and into some trees, barely missing some contestant horses.
But other than those inflicted on Smokey, there were no injuries.
First-place rodeo winners
Bareback Riding: Jon Brockway
Calf Roping: Jim Bob Mayes
Saddle Bronc Riding: Robert Aragon
Steer Wrestling: Luke Branquinho
Team Ropers: Jake and Anthony Barnes
Women's Professional Barrel Racing: Shyann Haddock
Bull Riding: Josh O'Byrne
Parade winners from the August Doin's
Best Color Guard Camp Verde Cavalry
Best Marching Group Payson High School Longhorn Band
Best Western Rider Male Spanish Rider
Best Western Rider Female Triple R Riders
Best Costumed Riders Phoenix Jaycees Comancheros
Best Horse Drawn Entry Wells Fargo Stage Coach
Best Novelty Entry El Zaribah Shriners
Best Rodeo Queen Betsy Rice, Miss Country Western Arizona
Best Commercial Entry Payson Care Center
Best Classic Vehicle US Forest Service
Best Costumed Group Payson Pro Rodeo Jail Committee
Best Civic/Volunteer Entry Art Stone for Sheriff