Fair Moves To Payson

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For the first time in 51 years, the Northern Gila County Fair moves from Pine to Payson.

Fair committee chairman, Wendell Stevens, said the change in location is more about convenience and less about politics.

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The year was 1966 and a very young Albert Hunt was the proud owner and exhibitor of the county fair's champion bull calf. With the fair now in Payson, other young people can enjoy similar success.

After longtime fair chairman, Walt Smith, retired from his post two years ago, the existing committee postponed the fair last year to give residents of Pine the opportunity to regroup.

According to Stevens, that didn't happen.

Moving the fair to Payson gives participants the added convenience of location. "We saw an opportunity to involve the Tonto Apaches, and because of the facilities that already exist in Payson, this is the best place for it," said Stevens.

The Payson Event Center will hold the livestock and equestrian events while the Tonto Apache Gym showcases the arts and crafts exhibits.

"Our first goal is to the local community, to create an activity that you can enjoy as a family," said Stevens. "If we do a good job, it'll be something that other people will want to see."

Now that the location of the fair is set, the biggest obstacle is finding volunteers. "A lot of this is going to depend on the amount of volunteers," said Stevens.

The 2005 Northern Gila County Fair is scheduled for Sept. 9, 10, 11. For more information about volunteering, contact Charlene Hunt at (928) 978-4186, or Stevens at (928) 472-5734.

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