Zane Grey's West Society Hosts Convention In Payson

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Fans of the prolific writer Zane Grey, whose romantic novels of the American West largely created a new literary genre, the Western -- have been gathering once a year for a quarter of a century.

The Zane Grey's West Society 25th annual convention comes to Payson this year. Bringing approximately 125 visitors to the area June 18 through June 22.

Conrad and Beverly Okerwall, who have been members of the society since the early 1990s, are the co-chairs of the event, which is a culmination of two years of work.

The bulk of the convention will take place at the Best Western Payson Inn, with a few events held elsewhere. The only public activity of the convention is the annual auction.

The public is welcome to attend the auction from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, at the Payson Inn.

Society members will have a wide array of materials offered at the auction, Conrad Okerwall said. There will be both vintage and rare editions of Zane Grey's books, including first editions and large collections; authenticated memorabilia, such as letters actually written by the author; and artwork from Conrad Okerwall, Donn Morris and Paul Morton. The proceeds from the auction are used by the society to continue its work, which includes the publication of "The Zane Grey Review," a bi-monthly magazine and the donation of a complete set of the Black's Zane Grey books to the high school where the convention is held.

This is the third time the society has held its convention in the Rim Country. The convention was held here in 1984 and 1995. Each year the event is held at different locales associated with Grey, Conrad Okerwall said.

Payson was selected because of the replica of the Zane Grey Cabin built by the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation in Green Valley Park.

The original cabin was destroyed in the 1990 Dude Fire.

Anyone interested in joining the society may come to the registration/check-in desk for the convention the afternoon of Monday, June 18.

Beverly Okerwall said there will be membership applications available.

The purchase of a membership at the convention makes the holder eligible to participate in the program's activities.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Monday

1 to 4 p.m. Registration

1 to 6 p.m. Cabin and Rim Country Museum open and free with convention badge, Green Valley Park

6:30 p.m. Barbecue dinner at Main Street Grille

Tuesday

9 a.m. Opening meeting, Tonto Rim Room, Payson Inn

9:15 to 9:50 a.m. - Welcome by Todd Newport, society president; welcome by Town of Payson Representative; history of area by Jinx Pyle, Town of Payson historian

10 to 11 a.m. Keynote address by Dr. Joe Wheeler, "Ulysses at Twilight"

1 to 5 p.m. Annual auction, Tonto Rim Room, Payson Inn

7 to 8 p.m. Betsy Fahlman will speak about Western artist, Lillian Wilhelm Smith

Wednesday

Group trip to La Posada Hotel, Winslow

6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Members Book Fair, Tonto Rim Room, Payson Inn

7:30 p.m. Movie screening of "Under the Tonto Rim" with Tim Holt, followed by an ice cream social

Thursday

10:45 to 11:45 a.m.

"Tonto Tales," presentation by Chuck Pfeiffer

6:30 p.m. Closing Banquet at Mazatzal Casino banquet hall

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