Wildlife Fair Is A Spring Tradition


A highlight of the spring season for the past 13 years 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. May 10 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 cooked up by longtime MSA member Jack Koon and his sidekicks.

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 Department sponsor the annual event.

New this year is that Rim Country children under the age of 14 will be able to register to win one of 50 free bicycles and helmets. Generous donations from Bill Luke Chrysler Jeep & Dodge, along with the support of the Gracie Lee Haught Memorial Fund, Mogollon Health Alliance, Arizona Game and Fish and Payson Wal-Mart, made this possible.

Registration is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 5-9 at the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 10.

When a child registers for the drawing, he or she will receive fishing promotional materials along with a raffle ticket. Children and their families can fish for free during the Payson Wildlife Fair and receive help from Arizona Game and Fish staff if needed.

The bicycle drawing is slated for 1 p.m. at the Payson Wildlife Fair, and participants must be present to win.

For more information, call the Town of Payson Parks and Recreation office at (928) 474-5242.

Tennis anyone?

The Payson Tennis Club is looking for intermediate-level doubles players, both male and female.

The initiation from Mike Steelman of the PTC is, "if you can serve, have an average forehand and backhand, and can play net at least a little bit, come play doubles with us every Monday and Wednesday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m."

Games are played at Rumsey Park.

Steelman says, "Come out and get some sun and exercise and meet new people."

He also warns that times may change as the weather warms up.

For more information, call Steelman at (928) 476-2702.

HOSA to host golf

The Payson High School Health Occupation Students of America will be holding a golf tournament May 10 at Payson Golf Course.

The fee is $80 per player.

HOSA is a student organization committed to recruiting qualified young people interested in pursuing a career in the health care professions. Last year, the Payson chapter of HOSA conducted CPR and automatic external defibrillator (AED) training for high school faculty and staff. Funds from the golf tournament will be used to purchase AEDs and place them in locations throughout the community.

The cost of the devices is about $1,200 per unit.

For more information or to enter the golf tournament, call Dr. James Vandruff at (928) 978-5276 or Mogollon Health Alliance at (928) 472-2588.

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