Payson's World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo wouldn't be possible without the commitment of volunteers, many of whom have given their time over quite a few years. The Schmidts are a couple who exemplify this generous commitment.
Ernie and Sue Schmidt have worked on the Rodeo Committee since 1990 when they moved to Payson from the Valley.
Sue has volunteered as Wagon Mistress serving hot dogs and soda.
She served as the Beer Boss of the August rodeo for nine years. Although her health has made it necessary to stop serving, her enthusiasm for the rodeo shows in her voice.
"Rodeo cowboys and cowgirls are some of the nicest, most polite people in the world," she said. Whether they are fresh in their duds or a bit tattered from competition, they always have a smile and say, "Yes Ma'am."
She laughs at the nickname members of the rodeo committee thought was a better fit: Beer Baroness. For three of the nine years Baroness Sue was responsible for the sale of beer at both the spring rodeo and the August Doin's.
"It's a killer job... for the spring rodeo especially because we have no booths or anything, so we have to rent a trailer. I have to order the beer, go get the beer, bring it back and then cool it down. I have to borrow tables and bins. It's a lot of hauling... when you're done, what is full cases you have to return."
The job isn't just for the few days of the two different rodeos. Sue and her team start working in January.
"I'm in charge of the roping chutes: team ropin', bull doggin' and calf ropin'," Ernie said.
He is responsible for matching the contestants with the animals they've drawn so they are not disqualified.
As Chute Boss he coordinates the efforts of at least eight people -- arena cowboys and ones who man the chutes. Cowgirls are part of his volunteer staff, too.
Watching for cues over the years, he's been stepped on, kicked and been pressed by horses and bulls to the chute walls. Ernie has gotten his hands dirty, too (sometimes he has to grab a bull's tail and twist it a bit).
"He's right out in front with the animals; right in there with the ‘guacamole' -- we shake him out before we let him get in the truck," wife Sue said.
"After 15 years I can look a horse in the eye and tell if he's going to get nervous," Ernie said matter-of-factly, estimating he has worked between 125 and 150 rodeo performances.
The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce Rodeo Board is filled with volunteers who put many hours of effort into bringing the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo to the residents of and visitors to the area.
The Rodeo Board includes Rex Hinshaw, chairman; Tina Bruess, executive director of the chamber; Kevin Dick; Matt Ford; Mike Harper, beer boss; Stephanie Keeney, parade chair; Blaine Kimball; Judy Miller; Meg Turlukis; Chris Wolf; and Pat Johnson. They are assisted in their efforts by many other volunteers.