Northern Gila County Fair This Weekend

If you don't go to the fair, you don't know what you're missing


By the time Elliot the steer reaches the show and auction at the 52nd Annual Northern Gila County Fair, he will weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds.

"He has a bigger personality than my last bull," said Patty Goble of the bull she has been caring for since January. "He's head strong and more social."


"(Elliot) has a bigger personality than my last bull," said Patty Goble of the bull she has been caring for since January. "He's head strong and more social."

Goble is a senior at Payson High School, a member of FFA (formerly known as Future Farmers of America), the high school rodeo team and the 4-H Club.

She expects to earn a lot more money when she sells Elliot than on the pigs she has sold in previous years.

Between them, the teens in FFA and 4-H are sending 14 hogs, three steers, one lamb and two or three goats to market at the fair. The teens will also be showing a pen of rabbits and all sorts of other critters.

A lamb named Porkchop is PHS senior Lanie Simpson's market animal.

"I named her Porkchop because mint jelly might have given her a complex," Simpson said.

Lambs are less work than steers because they are smaller and more independent.

But some of that independence means bad habits, and in order to show her lamb, Simpson must teach her to walk on a lead and not be so friendly with the horses.

The object in high school agriculture classes is for students who raise and show market animals to do so as a business. They are graded on running that business -- charting the animal's growth, feed and average daily weight gain so that they know the cost per pound it cost to raise the animal when they sell it at auction. How efficient the student is at doing this is evaluated from one year to the next.

Hannah Palandri has spent a lot of hours training her pig Dodge to get him socialized.

"The pigs next to him won't let me touch them," Palandri said.

She feeds Dodge twice a day so he is right on weight (180 pounds).

Palandri is a junior at PHS and plans to raise more market hogs, even though she admits she has become emotionally attached to this one.

When someone buys a market animal at a fair, that person has an opportunity to question the teenager who raised it so the buyer knows what kind of care the animal received, such as the type of feed it was given.

Sara Sjonborg, now a PHS senior, entered a guinea pig at the fair a few years ago and won second place with it.

This year, she has been raising a goat to sell at the auction.

According to fair chairman Wendell Stevens, the local Bashas' store has been very supportive of the fair in past years.

When Bashas' buys a market animal, its meat sold in the Payson store goes fast.

But the fair is not just about market animals.

There will be food, entertainment, horse, poultry and rabbit shows, tractor shows, craft booths and exhibits.

"We're just going to flat have more entries," Stevens said.

Floriculture, photography, canning and hobbies are just a few of the categories that local folks, from wee to senior, may display the work of their hands and mind.

Whether you hanker for fry bread smothered in beans, kettle corn, or a cool shaved ice, the fair has a variety of food vendors to meet the needs of your tastebuds.

There is no entry fee for the Open Horse Show on Saturday. Buckles and ribbons will be awarded for driving, halter, Western, English and trail riding classes.

John Deere, Farmdale, Allis Chalmer and other tractors will be on sale.

A demolition derby has been added and is the big event for Sunday.

Demolition derbies were a big deal at local fairs in the Midwest where Stevens grew up. People would scout year-round for cars they could compete with at derbies, he said.

This first derby could become an annual event.

The fair took the coordinated effort of many people over many months.

"This is going to be the best fair ever," said Susie Belcher, special events coordinator. "I love to see people get out there and support those FFA and 4-H kids."

How to participate

Folks who are interested in volunteering to help at the fair, want to perform in the talent show, have a pet that performs or a tractor to display, may contact Susie Belcher at (928) 472-9910 for more information.

Northern Gila County Fair Schedule

Exhibit entry deadlines

Tonto Apache Exhibit Hall

Noon - 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 7

Livestock deadlines

Payson Event Center

Noon - 6 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 7

must be in place by: 8 a.m., Friday, Sept. 8

Free fun for the whole family

8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Payson Event Center

10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sunday, Exhibit Hall: Craft and food vendors and exhibits open all three days

Friday, Sept. 8

8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Payson Event Center

8 a.m.: Rabbit Show

10 a.m.: 4-H Horse Show classes are: Western, English, speed events

11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.: live entertainment

2-5 p.m.: KMOG live broadcast

5-7 p.m.: Market Animal Show

Saturday, Sept. 9

8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Payson Event Center

8 a.m.: Poultry Show

10 a.m.: Open Horse Show begins (no fee, entries accepted until 10 a.m.) entries in: driving a buggy, halter, Western, English and trail riding

10 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Schoolyard Jesters Improv Comedy High School "Little Shop of Horrors" performed by Heidi Haworth, Ben Sandoval and Shannon Horton

1-2 p.m: Tractor display introduction

1-2 p.m.: Talent Show ($100 for the first place winner)

2-3 p.m.: Pet talent Show (prizes for the winners)

4-6 p.m.: Rockin' Ron Gibson Band

5-7 p.m.: Livestock Auction (under the tent)

Sunday, Sept. 10

Payson Event Center

12:30 p.m.: gates open for the Demolition Derby, event starts at 1:30 p.m.

Admission: $10 adults; $5 children 12 and under

For more information or to enter, call Susie Belcher at (928) 472-9910.

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