Rodeo Committee Saddled Up And Ready To Lead The Charge

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The Pro Rodeo Committee has built a solid reputation as a generous volunteer group that is almost always ready and able to support worthwhile causes.

Each year, the committee gives six Payson High School graduating seniors $1,000 scholarships to the college of their choice.

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Kenny Norton handles the steaks with ease at the Payson Multi-Event Center as cowboys, cowgirls, rodeo officials and families kick off with a steak fry in the VIP tent. The event is part of the August Rodeo.

Following the death, about a year ago, of longtime Payson Rodeo Committee member Jim Barrett, the committee sponsored another scholarship in his memory.

The scholarship money for all seven academic grants comes from selling rodeo buttons each year, putting people "in jail" during the rodeos and from donations.

Committee chairman and rodeo boss Bill Armstrong said the scholarships are awarded to "help the students attain their goals in life and as a way of wishing them success in everything they do."

Several years ago, the committee stepped up to provide the money to send two seniors from the Payson High School wrestling team to the Senior Nationals in Cleveland, Ohio and another six to a national tournament in Norfolk, Va.

In 2003, the committee helped 17 teens raise the $9,000 they needed to attend a football camp in Nebraska.

Last year, the pro rodeo committee made a generous donation to the Reaching Out Breast Cancer Support Group through its "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" program.

Because of the committee's generosity and benevolence, longtime youth, middle school and high school coaches consider the committee an invaluable resource they can call upon when in need.

For more than 20 years, the committee has been chaired by Armstrong who is as familiar a sight in the local rodeo arena as any pro cowboy.

Under his guidance, the committee oversees the production of the Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo each spring and the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo each August.

The committee also is responsible for production of the annual rodeo parade that draws throngs of fans from around the state.

The rodeos and parade are a real plus for the Rim Country in that they spur a variety of special events at different restaurants and watering holes throughout the weekend with lots of live music, dances, special menus and other entertainment.

Currently, the committee boasts about 120 members.

"And we're growing all the time," Armstrong said. To volunteer, or for more information about the committee, call Armstrong at (928) 474-9440.

Pro Rodeo Committee

Rodeo Boss: Bill Armstrong
Purpose: To host two annual rodeos and support community projects.
Contact: Bill Armstrong, (928) 474-9440
Dues: $23 first year, $13 annually thereafter.
Meetings: The Pro Rodeo governing board meets at 6 p.m. every other Tuesday at the Best Western Payson Inn. At 7:30 p.m., a general committee meeting begins.
Contributions to the community: Host rodeos, high school scholarships, support school extracurricular activities.

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