Strap on your boots. It's rodeo time.
This year, Payson is celebrating its 120th Annual World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo from Aug. 16 to Aug. 22.
The week of the rodeo will consist of several activities, traditionally known as "August Doin's."
The week will start off with a book-signing on the evening of Aug. 17 at the Ox Bow Saloon. Local authors Jinx Pyle and Jayne Peace will introduce and autograph their new book about the first 100 years of the Payson Rodeo.
Thursday, Aug. 19 will mark the start of the rodeo events with the women's rodeo. Admission is one can of food, and events include barrel racing and roping.
The next performance will be at 7 p.m. Friday, and will be geared toward "local appreciation," with tickets selling two-for-one if purchased in advance from the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce. Friday also will feature mutton bustin', an event where children ride sheep.
Special performances by Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey and In His Glory the super horse, two acts by Tommy Lucia, will be featured in between rodeo events. Whiplash was named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association act of the year in 2003.
Miss Rodeo Arizona and the Turquoise Circuit Queen also will be making appearances throughout the week.
The rest of the rodeo performances will take place at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo Parade will march down the Beeline Highway on Saturday, Aug. 21 at 9 a.m.
The rodeo will feature several events, including team roping, tie-down roping, bareback riding, saddle-bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling and barrel racing.
Rex Hinshaw, chairman of the chamber's rodeo board, said bull riding is traditionally the most exciting event.
"It's the last event of the day, and it's very popular," Hinshaw said. "It started in the sanctioned rodeo, but now it has its own professional bull-riding shows."
Vendors, crafts and face-painting also will be available at the rodeo.
"It's a way the family can get out of the city, come to something that's outdoors, that has historical Western action and get away for the day," Hinshaw said.
Payson has retained its rodeo roots, and thus continually attracts a large audience to the rodeo, Hinshaw said.
"It's not in a coliseum, it's in an open-air rodeo grounds. Its size allows spectators to get closer to the action, up close and personal with the cowboys," he said.
Fans also can meet and receive autographs from the cowboys after the events.
Pat Johnson, who is in charge of membership, finance and the rodeo at the chamber, said crowds will always come back.
"It's the love of the sport. It's a celebration of our Western heritage," Johnson said. "Payson is rodeo."
IF YOU GO
What: The 120th Annual World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo
Where: Payson Event Center at 1400 S. Beeline Highway
When: Aug. 20 to 22
Admission: Adults $14, Seniors $12, Children ages 5 to 12 $7, Children under 5 Free
Info: Call (800) 672-9766, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.