Party The Pioneer Way To Help Ffa

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A band of Payson men who hail from pioneer families are determined to honor those who made the Rim Country great.

They'll do so by hosting the inaugural Gila County Pioneers Honorary Barbecue Dinner and Dance from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30 in the Tonto Apache gymnasium.

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Ronnie McDaniel

The event's organizing committee of 11 has been meeting each week at Roy Haught's Star Valley home to plan the festivities.

"It will be a little bit like what the Cowbelles used to do," committee member Ronnie McDaniel said. "We want to honor the pioneers who 60 years ago were the backbone of Payson."

Plans are to also make the celebration and annual event.

Many of the old traditions will be a part of the gala evening including cake and dessert auctions.

"I remember as a young boy going to those," McDaniel said. "They were so much fun and they will be again."

Committee member Duke Wilbanks is certain many pioneer recipes will be used in making the desserts.

"They'll be made from favorite recipes," he said.

Also on the evening's agenda will be a quilt raffle and prize giveaways.

The evening's meal should be another blast from the past. Haught and Albert Hunt will be stirring up some of their finest slow-cooked beef and chicken, accompanied by cowboy beans, coleslaw and rolls.

"It will be an elbow lickin' dinner," Wilbanks said, "These ol' cowboys can cook."

While chomping down on the tasty grub, the Pickers and Grinners country music group, along with special guests, will entertain.

"There will be plenty of dancing going on," Wilbanks said. "John and Jeri from the Cline family will be cutting a rug."

When the two dance to the old tunes, it should be a cultural delight for the younger members of Payson families.

"It's just a treat to see them do some of the old country dancing, they can really dance to the waltz," Wilbanks said.

"Feel free to do the two-step with them."

All proceeds from the evening will be donated to the Payson High School chapter of the FFA.

"We'll let (FFA teacher) Wendell Stevens decide how the money will best help the program," McDaniel said.

Tickets, priced at $10 per person (children will be admitted free), are available from any committee member of by calling Haught at (928) 474-2454, Wilbanks at (928) 474-0979, or McDaniel at (928) 474-2000.

Other committee members are Will Davis, Billy Hardt, Tony McDaniel, Tim Hughes, Lonnie Cline, Brian Jennings and Teddy Tomerlin.

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