It's Rodeo Time!

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The 2007 Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo takes place May 17, 18 and 19 at the Payson Event Center off Highway 87 west of the Mazatzal Casino.

Festivities start Thursday, May 17 with Cactus Series Ladies Barrel Racing. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the performance is at 7 p.m. Admission is a can of food for the food bank.

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Rodeo boss Bill Armstrong

Evening rodeo performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19, gates open at 5 p.m.

Many nationally ranked Pro Rodeo cowboys are expected to be among the 240 entrants, according to Rodeo Boss Bill Armstrong. He said Jud Mortenson of Dewey will be in the bull riding, Tommy McFarland of Wickenburg will participate in the bareback riding and Steve Dollarhide of Wikieup will compete in saddle bronc riding.

Also on the list of participants are bareback rider Stetson Herrera of New Mexico, who has family in the Rim Country; team roper Rube Woolsey of Casa Grande; tie-down roper Chance Kelton of Mayer; team roper Steve Sherwood of Gilbert; and barrel racer Sheri Estrada of Alamogordo, N.M.

The rodeo will also feature a hometown PRCA cowboy, Jason Amon, who will participate in both saddle bronc and bull riding.

Admission is $12 for adults, 13 to 64; $10 for senior citizens, 65 and older; and $8 for children 8 to 12; those 7 and younger are admitted free.

Tickets are available at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, Corral West, Circle K North and the Payson Roundup newspaper.

Salt River Rodeo is returning to the Rim Country as the rodeo's stock contractor, featuring some of the top bulls in the sport.

Friday, May 18 is the "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" Breast Cancer Support Performance. Donations will be made to the cause: $3 for each cowboy in pink and $1 for each patron wearing pink.

The Main Event Rodeo Parade will be on West Main Street, starting at Julia Randall Elementary School at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 19. This year's parade is dedicated to three longtime members of the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee who died in 2006-2007: Jim Barrett, Al Ayers and Walt Prychodnik. They will be honored by three riderless horses led along the parade route, according to Pat Albritton, a member of the committee.

There are 17 entries currently registered to participate, but Parade Chair Joni Alexander will accept entries up to the start of the parade. Among the participants: the local Shriners, rodeo queens from all over, the Hashknife group and the Red Hat Ladies.

To find out more about participating in the parade, call Alexander from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at (928) 468-9797; she can be reached at other times at (928) 978-3348.

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