From Simple Beginnings To Weekend Extravaganza

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For the past 12 years, a highlight of the spring season for young and old alike has been the Payson Wildlife Fair. It's a festive event that draws onlookers from around Gila and Coconino counties.

The event is a chance to walk on the wild side, without ever leaving the friendly confines of Green Valley Park.

The inaugural Wildlife Fair began as a simple affair inside the Rim Country Middle School gymnasium and was attended only by local students.

Since those humble origins, it's grown to become a top-notch extravaganza, which is both fun and educational.

This spring, the much-anticipated fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Green Valley Park. Admission is free.

One of the most popular attractions of the day will be the free fishing program. Free bait and tackle will be provided on a first come, first served basis. The Arizona Game and Fish Department will stock the lake with plenty of catchable-size trout. The presence of those fish should greatly enhance fishing opportunities that day.

Other attractions include fly fishing clinics, wildlife displays, hands-on activities and an appearance by Smokey Bear. Visitors also have the opportunity to view live birds, fish and reptiles.

Live music fills the air and the Mogollon Sporting Association hosts a food booth that offers up hot dogs and hamburgers.

There will also be games and prizes.

The Mogollon Sporting Association, U.S. Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department and Payson Parks and Recreation sponsor the annual event.

East alive and well at state

Today's state baseball action at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix will feature two East region teams.

At 4 p.m., East champ Snowflake will take on Wickenburg and East runner-up Holbrook challenges West champion Fountain Hills.

The state championship will be played 8 p.m. May 12 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

In softball, the only East team remaining in the tournament is region champion Show Low. The Cougars had to go 11 innings in the Sweet 16 round to defeat Florence, 3-2.

Rim Country fans remember it was Florence that last year ousted the Lady Longhorns in final-four play.

In the 2007 tournament, Show Low will play West runner-up Estrella Foothills in the semifinals.

Also in the final four, West champion Wickenburg takes on Seton Catholic.

Both games will be played today at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix.

The state championship will be decided tomorrow, also at the Mofford complex.

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