The claim of "Payson -- Festival Capital of Arizona" passed from popular use in the 21st century, but a look at the jam-packed calendar of summer events shows there is still a firm grasp on the concept of offering a wide array of entertainment and activities to the Rim country's summer visitors.
Mountain High Days Arts and Crafts Bazaar: This fifth annual event brings artisans and crafters from all over the country to the Gila County Courthouse grounds in Payson. If it's handcrafted, it's there -- along with music and food. Admission is free and sales begin at 9 a.m.
Beeline Cruise-In and Car Show: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mazatzal Casino. This free show is a great, casual way to get a gander at some fantastic automobiles. Past shows have featured a few, select antique autos and a feast of fabulous vintage and classic cars and trucks. Check out the T-shirts and other collectibles offered at the show and enjoy the refreshments and entertainment as well. Call (928) 472-7769 or (928) 472-7273 for information.
May 31-June 1
Elks Craft Fair: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Payson Elks Lodge (corner of Highway 87 and Airport Road). Here is another opportunity to get that unique gift for someone special or as a treat for yourself. The spacious grounds at the Elks Lodge provide plenty of room for a relaxed ramble to inspect all the offerings. Call (928) 467-9667 for more information.
Payson Masonic Lodge Annual Deep Pit Barbecue: 200 E. Rancho Road, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., $6 for adults, $3 for children under 10. Right across Highway 87 from the Elks Lodge, one of the Rim's best barbecues is the perfect way to top off a fun-filled weekend in the cool pines. Call 468-8010 for more information.
June Bug Blues Festival: 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Rumsey Park. Call (928) 474-2448 for more information. This is the 10th annual gathering under the Rim for blues artists. This year's festival features Alex Maryol, Danny Rhodes and The Messengers, Uvon and The Blues Wizards, Bill Tarsha and the Rocket 88s, Honeyboy Dupree and The Smokehouse Players, Carey Slade Band, John Scott Band, Train Wreck, and the Jim Glass Band. Saturday admission is $12 for adults, $5 for those 6 to 18, ages 5 and under will be admitted free. Sunday admission is $10 for adults, $5 for those 6 to 18; and ages 5 and under admitted free. (800) 672-9766 or (928) 474-4515.
5th Annual Living Historian Gathering and Show: Strawberry Schoolhouse. Living historians are those special, enthusiastic -- sometimes obsessed -- folks who are so knowledgeable of our history and the men and women who created it, that they learn enough about certain individuals to incorporate them into a living, breathing reenactment. Then, while in "character" of this historic individual, share stories of the lives they led and the time in which they lived. Call (928)476-3547 for more information.
First Payson Fine Art Craft Extravaganza: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Rumsey Park. Held to support Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Gila County. Teeming ranks of artists from all over will be in the Rim country to share their wares and works to benefit this special program for our young people. For more information, call (602) 867-2614.
Zane Grey Twirlers 23rd Payson Square Dance Festival: Tonto Apache Recreation Center. Dancers from all over -- ladies in their fluffy, frilly dresses and the men in their often-matching shirts and string ties -- will be promenading, dosey-doeing, and, yes, twirling, in a big way both days. It will be a sight to see. For more information, call (928) 474-5138.
Olde Tyme Auction and Appraisal Fair: sponsored by the Mogollon Health Alliance at a tent set up at 308 E. Aero. Appraisals, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.; auction preview from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.; auction at 10 a.m. Have a piece of bric-a-brac, vase, painting, or something similar handed down from your parents or grandparents or some unusual item picked up at yard sale you were passing by? See what specialists think it's worth, then hang around and check out more unique odds and ends up for auction. For more information, call (928) 472-2588
Concert Under the Stars: Swingtips swing band, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Green Valley Park Amphitheater. The Swingtips have been called one of the hottest nostalgia-swing acts to emerge in the industry. Their original music is hailed as some of the most "excellent original ... topnotch swing material" on the market. The group includes six musicians, with two doubling as vocalists. Bring a lawn chair and pack a picnic basket with favorite foods and snacks, then relax and enjoy this free concert at the park.
Concert Under the Stars: Rhythm F/X, a variety group, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Green Valley Park Amphitheater. This five-member ensemble is said to be virtually a melting pot of versatility and styles that creates a big, unique sound, along with a wonderful blend of harmonies that is a ‘must hear' as well as a ‘must see.' Bring a lawn chair and pack a picnic basket with favorite foods and snacks, then relax and enjoy this free concert at the park.
Family Fun Day: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Green Valley Park Amphitheater. This event features games, including gunnysack races and tug-o-war. Bring a picnic basket and blanket to sit back and enjoy the festivities, which also include live entertainment from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. by The Darkhorse Band, which specializes in country variety music and is part of the Concert Under to Stars series. Fireworks follow the performance. Shuttle service will be provided for park and ride transportation, as parking space is limited. Call (928) 474-5242, ext. 7, for details.
Army Band Performance: The Army Band will bring its military flourish to a concert from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Green Valley Park.
Concert Under the Stars: Cold Shot & the Hurricane Horns, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Green Valley Park Amphitheater. This ensemble has a total of eight members, including a vocalist, three guitarists, a trumpeter, a sax man, a keyboard artist and percussionist, brings a lively combination of blues, jazz and rhythm and blues when it performs. Bring a lawn chair and pack a picnic basket with favorite foods and snacks, then relax and enjoy this free concert at the park.
Concert Under the Stars: C.C. Ryder Express, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Green Valley Park Amphitheater. C.C. Ryder Express features a variety of music from the 1950s through the 1990s, with a varying number of performers. Bring a lawn chair and pack a picnic basket with favorite foods and snacks, then relax and enjoy this free concert at the park.
Concert Under the Stars: Young Country, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Green Valley Park Amphitheater. Young Country is a five-member country band, with most of the members contributing to the vocals. Bring a lawn chair and pack a picnic basket with favorite foods and snacks, then relax and enjoy this free concert at the park.
119th World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo: Mixer at Chapman Auto Center, Aug. 13; Rodeo Parade, Aug. 16; special events and rodeo competitions throughout the festivities. (See page 50 for more details.)
Auction for Masonic Lodge Building Completion Fund: This second annual event features a $25 prime rib dinner from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 200 East Rancho Road. Good eats and great treats, who could ask for anything more? Besides, your participation will help this great group of civic-minded citizens move closer to their goal of finishing their lodge home. Call (928) 468-8010 for more information
Rim Country Hospice Foundation 8th Annual Auction: This organization supports a place that offers comfort and care in the most difficult time in life for both the dying and their loved ones. For more information, call (928) 472-8220.
Rim Country Western Heritage Festival: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Green Valley Park. The shadow of the late John Wayne looms large in the mythology of the West -- at the Western Heritage Festival, learn about the real West. Enjoy educational programs by lecturers and demonstrators, an art show, plus good food and fun. For more information, call (928) 474-3483.
Old Time Fiddlers' Contest: Payson Event Center. End the summer season in the cool pines, listening to some of the country's most traditional music. Fiddle music played a big part in the lives of Western pioneers, and immigrants to this country, so the festival offers an opportunity to hear the sounds of our ancestors, along with great entertainment and family fun. Call (928) 474-4515 for additional information about admission and performance times.
Call the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce for the latest festival information. (928) 474-4515.