If the 119th World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo participants were one combined person, they would be Johnny Knoxville ---- the performer of often crazy and painful stunts on the TV show phenomenon known as "Jackass."
This year's rodeo events -- what have been known as the "August Doin's" since the rodeo was founded in 1884 -- range from bull riding to mutton bustin' contests. While some may consider such undertakings wild or crazy, thousands of Paysonites and out-of-towners will nevertheless attend and most likely have a knee-slappin' time.
The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce will officially launch the festivities at 7 p.m. Aug. 15, at the Payson Event Center on the Beeline Highway and Green Valley Parkway. There, barrel racing, bareback riding, bull riding, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping and mutton bustin' competitions will keep audiences entertained.
Pat Johnson, rodeo board secretary and head of membership finance and rodeo at the chamber of commerce, said the mutton bustin' competition and the Payson Rodeo Parade are the "two most exciting" events of all the Doin's.
Mutton bustin' is the art of staying atop a sheep longer than fellow contestants and is for children ages 5-7 who weigh less than 55 pounds. There are 40 openings for the young mutton busters, who will all be awarded belt buckles and bandannas. Winners will receive their own pair of Justin boots. Sign-up is at the chamber of commerce on the corner of Main Street and the Beeline Highway.
The parade, comprising more than 50 floats, hundreds of horses, and rodeo royalty, will swoop through town at 9 a.m. Aug. 16 and will proceed south on the Beeline before it turns west on Main Street.
Johnson emphasized the importance of August Doin's.
"It's good for kids to see where they came from, what the past was in their little community and how the town grew and supported rodeo activity," she said. "It's good for them to know that this has been going on for 119 years; There are not too many things with that stability in the world anymore."
Tickets are available at the chamber of commerce or at the gate two hours before each performance. Tickets for adults are $14; senior citizens, 55 years and older, $12; children, 12 years old and younger can get in for $7; and children under 5 will not be charged.
The One Arm Bandit and Company will provide the arena entertainment between performances.
Competition dates and times are as follows: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15; 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16; and 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17. There will also be a cowboy church at 9 a.m. Sunday.
For more information on the 119th Annual World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo see selected stories from the Aug. 13 issue of The Rim Review on our website, or pick up a complete printed edition of The Review at newsstands around town.