The traditional celebration that follows rodeo events returns to its Main Street origins for this weekend's August Doin's.
Dubbed the Ox Bow Community Main Street Dance, the event will be held in a gated area around the historic Ox Bow Saloon from 7 p.m. until midnight both Friday and Saturday nights. Twenty-five percent of the $5 adult admission will go to Rim Country Arizonans for Children, a local organization that used to be known as Northern Gila County CASA.
A separate gated area will be available for families with children.
"We're using cattle gates for both areas," said Ox Bow Saloon owner Beverly Nethken, one of the event's organizers. "There will be no drinking permitted in the kid's section."
In Payson's early days, rodeo dances on Main Street could be raucous events. Nethken promised that won't happen this weekend.
"Everyone used to say it was a fun time, but it was pretty wild," she said. "It was not organized before, but we are organizing it. We won't have any drunken brawls, guaranteed. I've hired top-notch security from the Valley."
Longtime Main Street resident Anna Mae Deming said she is enthusiastic about the return of the rodeo celebration to Main Street.
"I wanted it," Deming said. "I fought for it."
The adults-only portion of the party will take place in and around the Ox Bow. Three live country bands will be featured for continuous music.
"Rondavous has two female singers and they're bringing in a surprise guest singer," Nethken said. "They're the ones that sang with Mogollon at Bison Ranch a couple years ago and got standing ovations and great reviews.
"Vigilante is a country rock band that played for us at Spring Rodeo and also played for Prescott's rodeo," Nethken said. "They're a five-piece band that walks around and mingles with people while they're playing, so they really get the crowd going.
"Straight Up is one of the favorites at the Museum Club up in Flagstaff."
Another featured event for adults will be a bikini mechanical bull riding contest in the courtyard behind the Ox Bow.
"The girls will wear jeans with bikini tops, and the purse can go up to $700," Nethken said.
The Ox Bow also will provide food carts in the courtyard selling such fare as hamburgers and chicken sandwiches. Other vendors selling T-shirts and other items will be set up on Main Street as well as in the Ox Bow courtyard.
The upstairs public room and balcony at the Ox Bow will be used as a VIP area.
The gated family area will have its own food vendors, and will include root beer floats, candy and smoked sausages on a stick. The family area will also have rodeo clowns, face painting and other activities for kids.
Hallie Overman, a board member with Rim Country Arizonans for Children, is coordinating the family area. "What we hope to have is a real happy, festive, fun community type of event so parents can bring their 9- and 10-year-olds out and have a fun evening. We'll have a hometown stage from 6:30 p.m. until when the big bands start, and people can sign up at Shaker Music if they want to play. We're opening that up to all our local bands and musicians."
The town council voted in July to permit the closing of the street for the event, as well as an extension to the noise ordinance hours. Main Street will be closed each night in the vicinity of the Ox Bow from 6:30 p.m. until 2 a.m.
Admission is free for children under 16.
For more information, call Nethken at (928) 468-9797 or Overman at (928) 474-1099.