121st Annual Rodeo Rounds Up Fun

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Round 'em up --t's rodeo time again! The 121st World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo is Aug. 19, 20 and 21.

The World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo started as a competition among the Rim country's working cowboys, fashioned after the old Wild West shows. It was founded by one of the Rim country's pioneer sons, Arizona Charlie Meadows, and a few of his friends.

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Some of the top cowboys from around the country meet up at the August Doin's to compete for prize money and points as part of the PRCA-sanctioned event.

There were roping and riding contests and even horse races in the earliest days of the event -- and they took place on Payson's Main Street. Residents from throughout the area came to participate, enjoy the fun and visit with friends and relatives.

Now, the cowboys are professional athletes. They come from all over and travel around the country to put their skills -- and their bodies -- on the line for cash prizes.

The Payson rodeo has called many spots around town home, but now it takes place at the Payson Event Center on the southwest side of town.

"Honeycutt Rodeo is our stock contractor again this year," said Pat Johnson, of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is presenting the rodeo this year.

Johnny Pope will announce the events and the specialty act will feature Amanda Payne and her buffalo, from The One Arm Bandit and Company, Johnson said.

Pope is as much a fixture at Payson's World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo as is the Honeycutt family and their livestock. He is a former rodeo contestant and a runner-up world champion cowboy polo player. He also is known to announce rodeos from horseback. In addition to his work in rodeos and as a horseman, Pope is a recording artist.

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A crowd favorite during August Doin's is mutton bustin'. During the competition, little tykes try to stay aboard their wooly mount for as long as possible.

Payne is a second generation rodeo specialty act, part of the company of her father, John Payne.

National sponsors of the 2005 rodeo are Wrangler Jeans, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, Coors, Dodge and Justin Boots.

Johnson said U.S. Smokeless Tobacco is providing a new element for the rodeo this year -- a scoreboard.

"If it is the real high-tech one, it will even have replays," she said.

The always-popular event of "mutton bustin'" will be part of the 2005 rodeo, with contests at every performance. Rodeo performances will be at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 19; 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 20; and 1 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 21.

The annual rodeo parade takes place at 9 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 20. Johnson said a route and theme have not yet been decided. The chamber will benefit from the parade entry fees this year.

Johnson said special rodeo events are planned by a number of Payson businesses, including the Mazatzal Casino, the Ox Bow Saloon, Buffalo Bar & Grill, Mad Dawg's and Mel's, and Fargo's.

For more information, call Johnson at (928) 474-4515.

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