Events All Year Mark 125th Anniversary Of Payson


Payson is having a party -- possibly the party of the century and then some -- and everyone is invited.

The celebration lasts three days, Oct. 4, 5 and 6 and commemorates Payson's 125th anniversary as a town.


Lil' Longhorns preschool children get a ride from students of the vocational building trades class at Payson High School. Teens in the trades class built this wagon at the request of the Northern Gila County Historical Society, for Payson's 125th Anniversary.

There will be at least 125 chances to ride a horse, watch cowboy shooters, see a mystery unfold at dinner, wave a flag at a parade, play a game your grandparents might have played, win a cake or wipe tasty barbecue sauce from your lips.

Members of the planning committee started their work in October 2006. They are continuing to put together what will surely be the event of the decade in Rim Country -- or the biggest party in 125 years.

Friday, Oct. 4

The historic Oxbow Saloon will host a mystery dinner theater.

Several committee members have written a fun story about Payson's history, but the performers will need the audience to solve the wherefores and whys.

The mystery dinner is a fund-raiser for the Northern Gila County Historical Society.

Saturday, Oct. 5

Celebrants can start their day about 7 a.m., with a Western pancake breakfast at the Main Street Grille and listen to a ghost story or two about the reportedly haunted restaurant.

Then, tummies full, step out to the sidewalk, cheer as the Western timeline parade goes by at 9 a.m.

Volunteers, both those dressed as Western characters and those who really are characters, will take to the streets just after the parade begins, to tell their stories.

Throughout the day, characters will be telling Payson's history at various locations on Main Street. Musicians will be peppered up and down the street, as well.

Take a closer gander at the antique automobiles from the parade.

After the parade ends, about 10 a.m., the fun begins at Green Valley Park.

Meander on down and check out the paintings and creative works of local artists at Art in the Park.

Back on Main at 11 a.m., the cakewalk begins.

Party participants could have a close encounter with the sheriff at the jail tree or get their costume judged at Pioneer Park on the northwest corner of Main and McLane, across the Oxbow Saloon.

Need a little snack, or something more substantial to keep you walking?

A variety of food vendors posted along Main Street will be glad to sell you a meal.

The activities shift back to Green Valley Park at 2 p.m., with a focus on children and families.

There will be period games to play and crafts to make.

Folks can enjoy dancing in the park to the music of pioneer bands.

A smaller version of the mystery play and barbecue dinner (and slice of anniversary cake) begins at 5:30 p.m.

At dusk, revelers can light a commemorative candle and send it sailing on the lake.

Sunday, Oct. 6

The fun moves out to the Event Center on the southwest side of town at noon Sunday, with Dutch oven cooking demonstrations from an authentic chuck wagon.

Folk who wish to enjoy this dinner cooked by authentic Western figures may purchase tickets. Roast beef, potatoes, biscuits, salad, dessert and a beverage are included in the $15.

Cowboys and cowgirls will give exhibitions on dressage and jumping, riding barrels and bending poles.

There will be a carriage-driving exhibition with the Bison Percheron hitch. And little ones will have a chance to compete in the always-popular mutton bustin'.

Cowboy Action Shooters and Mounted Shooters will show what they can do. There will also be a K-9 demonstration.

To volunteer, become a vendor, donate a cake, or simply learn more about Payson's 125th Anniversary Celebration check the Web site,

Other events scheduled to celebrate Payson's 125th anniversary

The first Friday and Saturday and Sunday in October were not enough to contain all the fun planned for the celebration of Payson's 125th birthday, so it is good there are more days in the week:

A special tour of the Natural Bridge is (tentatively) scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 2.

The Archaeological Museum is hosting a Brats, Chips and Cheese reception on Wednesday, Oct. 3

A golf outing is still in the planning stages for Thursday, Oct. 4, but part of Main Street, will be closed at 6 p.m. for a community picnic with dancing. Western dress is optional, but that attire would lend ambiance to the evening.

Become part of the western drama at Payson 125th birthday. Have some fun and learn something, too.

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