When the Mogollon Sporting Association was founded more than a decade ago, one of its goals was to help improve the Rim country economy by hosting and sponsoring events that would draw visitors to Payson.
Through the years, MSA has been able to attain that goal by footing the bill for a number of Payson High School tournaments.
The past month, it's been obvious the tournaments do draw a good number of visitors to our town.
At the Rim Country Duals wrestling meet Dec. 17 and 18, teams from around the state flocked to Payson. Along with the wrestlers came fans and parents who stayed in hotels, ate in restaurants and shopped locally.
The Holiday Hoops girls basketball tournament, held Dec. 28 and 29, drew 16 teams and almost 200 players to Payson. They came from as far away as Tuba City, Tucson and Kingman. An early morning drive south on Beeline revealed at least one school bus parked in most of our motels and hotels.
A visit to local restaurants during mealtime usually meant a slight delay because the cafés were overrun with players, coaches, fans and parents.
Most of the first time visitors to Payson returned home impressed with our schools and our town.
During halftime of a tournament game, a visitor remarked, "what a friendly, clean town you have...it must be great living here."
We should all be grateful to those hard-working coaches, sponsors and volunteers who did more than their fair share to provide topnotch athletic experiences for our athletes. Along the way, they helped showcase our town.
DU planning next banquet
Members of the Payson Chapter of Ducks Unlimited are working to make their annual banquet, auction and raffle one of the best ever.
"We want it to be one of the most exciting and rewarding events in Arizona Ducks Unlimited history," Ducks Unlimited Regional Director Adam Cresswell said. "Payson has always been a huge supporter."
The much anticipated annual event will be held March 5 at the Payson Elks Lodge #2154 located at 1208 N. Beeline Highway. Doors open at 5 p.m., dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. and the door prizes, raffles, and live and silent auctions begin at 7 p.m.
For those who purchase tickets prior to Feb. 20, prices are $35 for a single, $60 a couple and $20 for children.
After Feb. 20, prices increase to $45, $70 and $25.
Corporate table packages are also available for $750. The package includes a 12-gauge Benelli Nova DU shotgun, $100 in raffle tickets, dinner and DU memberships for eight, priority seating and corporation recognition throughout the event.
"It's over a $1,000 value," Cresswell said.
Cresswell anticipates about 150 persons will attend.
All proceeds for the banquet will be used to help DU carry out its commitment to conservation and waterfowl hunting.
"Together we are making a difference; not only for waterfowl, but for all wildlife," Cresswell said.
According to Cresswell, the accomplishments of DU include gaining the support of more than 1 million people, rallying a force of 70,000 unpaid fund-raising volunteers, conserving almost 11 million acres of wetland and wildlife habitat and developing an international strategic conservation plan that is based on up-to-date science.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call Cresswell at (480) 614-1994.
Hoop league registering preteen players
Registration for play in the town-sponsored fifth- and sixth-grade basketball league began Dec. 27 and will continue until Jan. 19. Parents may sign-up their children at the parks and recreation offices located in Green Valley Park. The fee is $20. According to town recreation specialist Charlene Hunt, most league games will be played on weekends. After the high school basketball season begins in mid-February, however, some could be played on weekdays.
For more information on the league, call Hunt at 474-5242, ext. 7.