Expect the 2006 Gary Hardt Memorial Spring PRCA Rodeo to be one of the best yet.
As always the emphasis is on exhilarating fun, great sport and celebrating our Western heritage. But there is an added feature this year -- raising breast cancer awareness through the "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" campaign.
The performance Friday, May 19 is a special event for the campaign. For every cowboy wearing something pink that night, $3 will be donated by Wrangler, and for every patron with pink, $1 will be donated.
"There should be 250 cowboys wearing something pink, so automatically $750 will be raised," said John Landino of the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee. Half of the proceeds will go to a local breast cancer charity and half will be donated to the Arizona Institute for Breast Health.
To add to the donations, rodeo guests can buy pink items from vendors at the show.
The major local sponsors of the campaign are the Historic Ox Bow Saloon and Chaparral Pines/The Rim Club; also providing support are Compass Bank, Bashas', Payson Jewelers, Payson Regional Medical Center Healthy Woman Program and El Rancho Restaurant, voted Payson's Best Mexican Restaurant for five consecutive years.
"I encourage everybody to come out and support the local breast cancer group," Landino said.
About the Spring Rodeo
During its earliest years, Payson's Spring Rodeo was part of the National Old-Timers Rodeo Association, now known as the Senior Pro Rodeo Tour.
In 1987 it became the Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo to honor the memory of the Payson native who died in 1987.
Hardt was a well-known roper. He was recognized throughout the Southwest for his bull riding and roping talents. His rodeo career began in 1962 at the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo in Payson.
As a member of the Rodeo Cowboys Association, Hardt rode bulls for about 20 years.
During the last 10 years of his work in rodeo, he became well-established as a roper.
This memorial event in his name is dedicated to benefit local youth with educational and athletic achievements.
The event is coordinated by the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee, led by Bill Armstrong.
The rodeo has a new stock contractor, Salt River Rodeo Company, owned and operated by Skip Beeler, from Mayer, Ariz.
Timber Tuckness, world famous rodeo clown, will be entertaining the crowd as this year's speciality act.
The Gary Hardt Memorial Spring Rodeo is May 19 and 20. Performances start at 7 p.m., with gates opening at 5 p.m. To purchase tickets in advance, visit the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, Corral West, Circle K North, or the Payson Roundup.
Ticket prices are $12 for adults; $10 for seniors; $8 for children; with those 7 and younger admitted for free.