Beer, Brats, Jazz: An Historical Affair

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When you attend the Northern Gila County Historical Society's "Wine & Cheese/Beer & Brats Tasting" you get to hobnob with history.

That's because the fund-raiser is actually held in and around the Rim Country Museum at Green Valley Park, and the entire facility is open for your perusal.

"This way they get to go in and tour the museum," Janet Farrington, who is in charge of accessions for the museum, said. "It's a fund-raiser and it's also a way to expose people to the museum."

Besides live appearances by General Crook, Bill Boardman and other historical characters from the past, visitors can enjoy fine wines, choice beers, select cheeses, gourmet pretzels and spicy brats and jazz.

The Payson Jazz Trio and the Payson High School/Rim Country Middle School Jazz Band will perform at the event, taking place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, May 20.

The event, dubbed "History & All That Jazz" is a major fund-raiser for the Northern Gila County Historical Society. It also includes a raffle and a silent auction.

Tickets are $15 each or $25 per couple and can be purchased at the Rim Country Museum, Museum of Rim Country Archaeology, from any NGCHS board member, and at the door.

For more information, call (928) 474-3483.

Funds raised through "History & All That Jazz" help support the important work of the Northern Gila County Historical Society in preserving and conserving the cultural heritage and colorful history of Payson and the Rim country.

The society, which has about 250 members, operates the two museums, and is slated to operate the Zane Grey cabin under construction adjacent to the Rim Country Museum, scheduled to open this summer.

"When it's all finished and up and running, we'll take it over," NGCHS President Tom McGuigan said. "We're talking about it being open seven days a week."

Besides limited financial support from the town of Payson and fund-raisers like "History & All That Jazz," the society is supported by member dues, donations, museum admissions, and gift shop sales.

McGuigan is counting on the cabin, combined with international visitors to the museum, to produce the numbers that will help the society stay in the black.

The Western novelist's cabin was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, and by the 1980s it was attracting 20,000 visitors a year.

Zane Grey set 24 of his books in Arizona and half of those in the Rim country. Among the novelist's works are "Riders of the Purple Sage," "Call of the Canyon," "To the Last Man," "Vanishing American," and "Wildfire."

"Enamored with the Rim's rugged environment, Zane was certain that it was also rich in history that would provide many plots for his novels," Beth Counsellor, one of the original cabin's caretakers, wrote in "The Story of the Zane Grey Cabin."

The society can always use more members and volunteers.

For information on membership, call Diane Visdas at (928) 468-0184. For information on volunteer opportunities, call Judy Alender at (928) 468-0936 or leave a message at the Rim Country Museum, (928) 474-3483.

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