Payson Hosts Top Specialty Act At Rodeo

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Rodeo is about non-stop action, and this year's specialty act is known for keeping people on the edge of their seats.

The "wild and woolly" One Arm Bandit & Company, one of the top rodeo specialty acts in the country for more than a decade according to Rodeo Board Chairman Rex Hinshaw, will be the main act at this year's World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo.

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The rodeo specialty act, The One Arm Bandit, has been ranked the PRCA act of the year for eight consecutive years. The Shidler, Okla.-based family act joined the PRCA in 1988.

"Getting specialty acts is somewhat competitive among the rodeos," Hinshaw said. "For us to get an act that has been voted act of the year several times puts us in league with some of the top rodeos."

The One Arm Bandit & Company act first came to Payson in 2000 when John Payne, the original "One Arm Bandit," performed.

"Everything about him is as class act as you can get," said Susan Horrocks, 2005 president of the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo in Vernal, Utah, where Payne has performed several times. "There's nothing better in (Las) Vegas or anywhere."

Horrocks describes Payne as an "animal whisperer." Whether he has them standing on top of his horse trailer or he's riding a horse without reins he seems to be completely in control, she said.

"Every year he's gotten standing ovations and everyone feels like he's the best specialty act we've had," Horrocks said.

Payne's son, David, performed in Payson's 2003 rodeo, and now Payne's daughter, Amanda, will have the chance to whip Payson rodeo fans into a frenzy.

Payne personally trained both his children how to work with horses, longhorn bulls and buffalo that are a part of his act, so Amanda's performance should be every bit as pleasing as her father's.

Amanda, 27, who once planned on going to college and becoming a basketball coach, has been performing solo since 1996 and does about 50 rodeos a year.

Amanda said she loves the roar of the crowd when she performs.

"I like showing off for the people and showing them what I know how to do," she said. "If they don't like you, why would you keep coming back?"

Specialty acts are part of the rodeo because they keep up the rodeo's energy and give the audience a good variety of entertainment.

"You have to entertain people from the ages of 3 to 80, so it needs to be as diverse as possible," Hinshaw said of the rodeo program.

But this year will probably be the One Arm Bandit & Company's last visit to Payson for a while. Rodeo organizers try to keep the program fresh from year to year so they'll be seeking out new acts for future rodeos, Hinshaw said.

Amanda will perform once Friday, Aug. 19, twice on Saturday, Aug. 20, and once more on Sunday, Aug. 21. Performance times are flexible, so be sure you get there early enough and stay long enough to catch the show.

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