Rodeo Parade, Action This Weekend

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A special grand marshall and junior grand marshall will oversee the Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo parade Saturday as it wends down Main Street.

Marcy Rogers, founder and director of Payson Community Kids, and Sabrina Johnson, an 11-year-old member of the program who has become an invaluable assistant to Rogers, will preside over the annual event, which begins at 9 a.m. at South Colcord Road near the Gila Country Sheriff's office. It will proceed to McLane Road. Entries include Wild West wagons and stagecoaches, young ladies on horseback, classic automobiles, marching bands and baton twirlers.

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Some of the top cowboys in the country will arrive in Payson this weekend for the 2001 edition of Payson's Gary Hardt Memorial Pro Rodeo. Rodeo action begins tonight (Friday) at the Payson event center, and continues through Sunday afternoon.

Rogers, whose full-time job is redevelopment-housing coordinator for the Town of Payson, is also active in the Rim Country Literacy Program and in the Main Street and Green Valley redevelopment programs. She moved to Payson from Tucson in 1996 where she worked with children from disabled families in a program similar to Payson Community Kids.

Johnson, a student at Rim Country Middle School, has been a Payson Community Kids leader for more than four years.

"This parade is a reminder of how much excitement was generated many years ago when rodeo and its related events were part of Main Street's legacy," Parade Chairman Dennis Fendler said. A trophy presentation will take place in the gazebo area of Green Valley Park shortly after the parade.

On to the rodeo

The 2001 edition of Gary Hardt Memorial Spring Pro Rodeo will once again feature some of the top cowboys in the country.

Festivities kick off with a family night Friday, May 11, followed by official Dodge Truck Series PRCA rodeos Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

"I'd especially like to push our Friday night event for the family," rodeo boss Bill Armstrong said. "The local girls run by themselves. Then the professionals run. Then they do a pro-am type of deal. Everybody's welcome. It starts at 7 p.m. and all it costs is a can of food. We want to help fill the food bank back up."

Saturday, the gates at the Payson Event Center open at 5 p.m. and Sunday they open at 11 a.m., with PRCA rodeo action beginning at 7 p.m. and 1 p.m. respectively. Events include bareback riding, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping, bull riding, and women's barrel racing.

The all-female Las Vaqueras De Tucson Quadrille Team will perform at both rodeos, which also will feature renowned rodeo personality Johnny Pope, and clowns Donny Landis and Matt Lucking.

Admission to the Saturday and Sunday rodeo is $10 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 12 years of age, and free for those 5 and under. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Famous Sam's, the Mazatzal Casino, or Armstrong's shop at 1104 South Beeline Highway, or at the main gate on the day of the performance.

Rodeo schedule of events

Friday, May 11

6 p.m. Gates open at the Payson Event Center

7 p.m. Women's Cactus Series Jackpot Barrel Race (admission is a can of food for the Payson Food Bank)

Saturday, May 12

9 a.m. Spring Rodeo Parade on Main Street

5 p.m. Payson Event Center gates open

7 p.m. PRCA Rodeo

Sunday, May 13

9 a.m. Cowboy Church Service

11 a.m. Payson Event Center gates open

1 p.m. PRCA Rodeo

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