Local Fair Returns To Rim Country

Summer highlight for young and old is ‘homegrown, homemade, old-fashioned'


The Northern Gila County Fair is returning to the Rim Country this weekend. After many years at the helm, Walt and Willene Smith decided that they could no longer do it and for two years, there was no fair.

This year, the fair is back Sept. 9, 10 and 11 -- in Payson instead of Pine -- at the event center and the Tonto Apache gymnasium. This tradition is too wonderful to let go, particularly for the young people. Growing up in small communities, these children should have the opportunities to learn how to work with animals, both pets and livestock.


These 4-H participants are excited and almost ready forhe Northern Gila County Fair. From left, in the back row, is Destiny Wagenknecht who will be showing herorse, pig and rabbit; Carle Ricke who is holding a ferret but will be showing her rabbit, Shamara; Aaron James with his mini rex rabbit; Heidi Kueny, co-leader of the 4-H group holding a cavy, akauinea pig; Katrina Kueny with Rocky, her Spanish Nubian goat. In the front iserissa Kueny holding Peter, the French lop,ut she will be showing her mini lops.

Walt and Willene believed that the fair should "preserve the history and background of our communities." They believed that the fair should be "homegrown, homemade and old-fashioned."

Wendell Stevens is the chairman of this year's fair. The above quotes came from his welcome message in the premium book. Putting together an event like this takes lots of volunteer hours, cooperation, organization and support from businesses in our communities. Many thanks to all who have worked so hard to make our fair once again a reality.

The kids are preparing for the fair. Those who are not, should be because it is going to be a lot of fun. The highlight of my summers, many long years ago, was preparing for and taking part in the horse events at the Red River Valley State Fair in Fargo, N.D. What wonderful memories.

Young horse people are training, washing horses, cleaning tack and otherwise preparing for the horse events. Friday evening, Sept. 9, is the fun show with barrel racing, pole bending, keyhole, flag race and much more. There is no entry fee. Registration is from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the show begins at 6:30 p.m. Enter or just come and watch.

The "for real" horse show is at 8.a.m. on Saturday. Check the premium book for all the details. There will be classes for English and Western riders as well as a driving class and halter classes. Horse folks of all ages are welcome to compete.
The Ranch Horse Competition will be at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Brenda Steelman is the show superintendent for the horse shows. Call her after 2 p.m. at (928) 476-0809 for more information.

A pet costume event will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. Pet owners of all ages are invited to dress up for the "pet-owner look alike contest" and the "best costume contest." Remember, this is not just for dogs. Register at the grandstand before the event. Call Susie Belcher at (928) 472-9910 with questions.

On Sunday, a fun dog show is at noon, with registration at 11 a.m. There will be an obedience class and assorted fun classes, including the most talented, best costumed and longest and shortest tails. Call Helen Young at (928) 474-6477 with any questions. Does your pet have an amazing trick? Does he do something really cute or silly? Bring him to the dog show. Dogs and owners of all ages are welcome. Dogs must be under control, nonaggressive and leashed. For their own protection, all dogs should be current on shots, particularly young puppies.

Small animal events are also open to all ages. Rabbits, cavies, pigeons, chickens, ducks and just about any of your small furry or feathered friends are included in this category. 4-H members and leaders will give educational demonstrations on Saturday. Small animal judging is on Sunday beginning at10:30 a.m. with rabbit judging. Cavy (Guinea Pig) judging is at 11:30 a.m. Poultry judging begins at1 p.m., as does the 4-H rabbit judging. The 4-H poultry showmanship is at 2 p.m. The 4-H kids will be doing their county 4-H judging, which is a 4-H requirement, beginning at 2 p.m. All small animals will be on display until 4 p.m. 4-H Livestock will be judged at 2 p.m. on Friday and the sale is Saturday, at 11 a.m.

All animal events will be at the Payson Event Center. All other categories will be found at the Tonto Apache Gymnasium. The Tonto Apache Tribe has been most accommodating. Everyone is asked to park at the event center and there will be shuttles to transport folks back and forth across the highway.
Let's all get out there and participate or watch the kids and adults showing off their achievements. Fair premium books tell you all you need to know about categories, deadlines and rules. These books are available at the Payson and Pine libraries and Sunny Mountain Realty in Pine. There are deadlines for most events and exhibits. There is no charge to enter but prizes will be awarded. Get your catalogue today and get your entries in on time.

Come to the fair.

Plan to attend Dog Day in the Park on Oct. 22 at the Payson Off Leash Dog Park.

Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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