Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, cowboys, cowgirls and rodeo fans flock to the Rim country each August for the annual edition of the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo.
This year marks the 118th consecutive year for the August Doin's, which has become the premier event in the Rim country's festival calendar.
Western Week kicks off innocently enough most folks heading to work Monday, typically forgetting that it's the beginning of the rodeo week. That's when the men and women of the local rodeo jail swoop down on unsuspecting workers at insurance companies, restaurants, even newspaper offices, and arrest those fools not smart enough to don their Western duds. The price of bail: $2, and all proceeds benefit the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee's scholarship fund.
Wednesday night, the annual Rodeo Mixer takes place for members of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce at Chapman Auto Center. The mixer runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the corner of the Beeline Highway and Longhorn Road.
Women take center stage at the Payson Event Center Thursday night for the Cactus Pro Women's Rodeo Association Buckle Series All-Women's Timed Event Rodeo (say that three times fast!). Action begins at 6 p.m., and admission is one item of non-perishable food for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank.
Friday, the rough-and-tumble PRCA rodeo action kicks off at 7 p.m. It's "Locals' Appreciation Night," which means Rim country residents can get in for half-price. Rodeo action continues Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. for final performances.
Friday and Saturday nights, following rodeo competitions, one of the Rim country's favorite bands, Mogollon, takes the stage for the annual Rodeo Dance under the big top at the event center. Admission is $7.
A returning event to this year's rodeo is Mutton Bustin', sponsored by Justin and Chapman Auto Center, which takes place just before each rodeo performance. The contest pits children, 5 to 7 years of age, against a rambunctious, wooly sheep. Entry is $10; limit 10 children per performance.
And what would a rodeo weekend be without a little spiritual enlightenment. Cowboy church takes place at 9 a.m., Sunday, at the Payson Event Center.
It's an action-packed week, filled with fun and excitement for young and old. Dig out your cowboy boots, your cowboy hat, your Wranglers and your favorite Western shirt.
And while you're getting into the cowboy spirit, we leave you to ponder some cowboy philosophy:
Don't squat with your spurs on.
Don't never interfere with something that ain't botherin' you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
Some ranchers raise pigs and some will even admit it. Either way, they're raisin' pigs.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
Never smack a man who's chewin' tobacco.
Never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut.
If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
Don't worry about bitin' off more'n you can chew. Your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger'n you think.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Generally, you ain't learnin' nothin' when your mouth is a-jawin'.
Tellin' a man to go to hell and makin' him do it are two entirely different propositions.
Generally speakin', fancy titles and nightshirts are a waste of time.
Trust everybody in the game, but always cut the cards.
If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.