Spring Rodeo Attracts Nearly 300 Cowboys

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The 2004 Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo in Payson will have almost 300 cowboys competing, according to information from Bill Armstrong, chairman of the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee, which presents the event each May, as well as the big rodeo in August.

Three real Rim country cowpokes will be showing off their skills this weekend: Jason Amon of Payson, Lara Baker of Pine, and Teri James of Payson, are all on the list of competitors.

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Speed and skill -- for both man and horse -- are critical in calf roping and team roping at Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association events like the Payson Spring Rodeo Gary Hardt Memorial.

While most of the competitors make their homes in the Southwest -- primarily Arizona and New Mexico -- this weekend's event will also host contestants from as far away as Oregon, Idaho and Kansas.

Among the neighboring cowboys competing are: Jeremy Alcott, Flagstaff; Constance Benally, Flagstaff; Kathleen Callander, Flagstaff; Troy Cooke, Show Low; Steve Cordova, Winslow; Terry Doka, Fountain Hills; Willard Henry, Winslow; Sisto Hernandez, Pinetop; Dain Livingston, Holbrook; Melford Nez, Winslow; Steve Sherwood, Snowflake; Bonnie Stradling, St. Johns; and Casey Wood, Flagstaff.

An additional 177 contestants make their homes throughout Arizona, from Nogales to Page.

Guiding spectators through the events with flair and a sense of fun is popular rodeo announcer Johnny Pope.

Announcing pro rodeos, singing cowboy songs, and riding horses are right down the traditional trail of western happiness for the Pope family of Semmes, Ala.

Johnny and Janet Pope enjoy their cowboy and cowgirl lifestyles and livelihood of rodeo life, by getting to do what they like most.

Johnny with his announcing and singing, and Janet with her music, sound and timing jobs, keep themselves busy at 40-45 rodeos annually.

They always haul a couple of horses with them because Johnny announces most of his rodeos "horseback," but he does a number of them from the announcers stand as well.

Schedule

Thursday, May 20, 6 p.m. Women's Rodeo, with tie-down roping, breakaway roping, team roping and barrel racing. Admission is a can of food, which will be contributed to food banks.

Friday, May 21, 5 p.m. gates open, 7 p.m. performance starts.

Saturday, May 22, 9 a.m. Main Street Rodeo Parade.

Saturday, May 22, 5 p.m. gates open, 7 p.m. performance starts.

The rodeo performances are at the Payson Event Center, on the south end of town, across from the Mazatzal Casino.

Admission

$6 -- children, 8 to 15

$10 -- adults, 16-54

$8 -- seniors, 55 and older

7 and under -- free

Those 21 and older may redeem their rodeo ticket stub at the Mazatzal Casino for $5 in coin.

Tickets are available at Corral West Ranchwear in the Payson Village Shopping Center; the Rim Country Regional Chamber Commerce office at the corner of Highway 87 and West Main Street; and Circle K South.

Remember, shade and protection from the elements at the Payson Event Center is limited, so be prepared.

And make sure you wear sunscreen and a hat to the parade and bring plenty of water in order to stay hydrated.

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