If Charlene Hunt of the town Parks and Recreation Department has her druthers, barrel racing and pole bending will soon become a big part of the Payson summer recreation scene.
After establishing the inaugural P&R-sponsored Barrel and Pole Bending Buckle Series, Hunt said, "We want to see how much interest there is out there in these events."
If the first-ever series is well received, Hunt plans on hosting the competitions again in the fall and eventually make the series an annual summer Rim country happening.
Buckle Series competitions will be held at 7 p.m., June 4, 11, 18 and 25. The series continues July 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30. The entire series will be held at the Payson Event Center.
The books open at 6 p.m., and the entry fee is $5 per participant for both barrels and pole bending. For those who opt to compete for time only, the fee is $3.
Because the event is town-sponsored, a jackpot format of awarding prize money cannot be held, Hunt said. However, the P&R department has established a budget to provide for prizes at the conclusion of the series.
"Buckles will be given to the winner of both barrel and pole bending in each age group at the final event," Hunt said. "Other awards will be given for second through fifth places."
For those that participate in all nine of the events, but do not place in the top five, Hunt will have consolation prizes.
Buckle Series participants will compete in one of three age groups: 12-years and under; 13 to 17-years; and 18-years and over. Ages will be determined as of June 4, 2003.
While most horse enthusiasts are familiar with the very popular sport of barrel racing, some might not have attempted pole bending.
Held mostly in gymkhanas and junior rodeos, the event requires riders to weave their horses twice through a series of six poles, spaced 21 feet apart.
Like barrel racing, the contestants that record the quickest times are declared winners.
Complete event rules are available at the Green Valley Park P&R offices.
Call Hunt at 474-5242, extension 358 for more information.