About 13 years ago, a handful of movers and shakers on the Rim country sports, cultural and business scene huddled over cups of coffee. The five --raig Swartwood, Gary Barcom, Mike DeWees, Ted Pettet and Jim Spencer --ere there to lay the foundation for an association they hoped could lend support to Payson schools, local youth programs, the town economy and outdoor conservation projects.
What emerged from that first meeting was the Mogollon Sporting Association.
Since the founding of the MSA, the association has earned about $450,000 at its annual spring banquets.
Following each banquet, the profits are tallied and the MSA governing board gathers to consider requests for donations.
In past years, sports teams, school bands, drama clubs, speech and debate organizations, school choirs and other youth associations have benefited from MSA's generosity. MSA also annually sponsors high school athletic tournaments and makes donations to conservation and wildlife causes in the Rim country.
In addition to the donations, MSA members often join forces with game and fish officers, PHS athletes, Forest Service officials and others to participate in clean-ups, build wildlife guzzlers and rebuild fences.
According to MSA member and banquet ticket chairman Jack Koon, the association is unique in that all the money it earns help local causes.
"(The money) all stays here in the Rim country," he said.
That's because the original mission statement specifically stated that all money earned must benefit local youth programs and conservation.
Koon said the spring banquet is set for May 7 at Mazatzal Casino.
"It's going to be a great one with lots of prizes, raffles and auction times," he said. "We already have 91 firearms and nine bows."
Loads of other donated merchandise, most of which has an outdoor theme, will be auctioned, raffled or given away as door prizes.
The banquet begins at 5 p.m. with a no-host cocktail hour. At 6 p.m., a filet mignon or chicken dinner will be served.
The raffles and give-aways begin about 7 p.m. with master of ceremony Will E. Dietz. The auctions are overseen by Dave Yoke.
Tickets are $70 and are available from any MSA member. Koon advises buying your tickets early; the banquet is usually a sell-out.
For tickets or more information, call Koon at (928) 474-1662.