Annual Event Combines Old-Fashioned Ridin' And Ropin' With Food, Music

Second Gracie Haught roping event benefits children's fund

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It was the type of boot scootin' celebration small towns are famous for -- plenty of old-fashioned camaraderie, good food, toe-tapping live music and two days of furious riding and roping competition.

Most importantly, however, proceeds from the Gracie Haught days will benefit the local Children's Memorial Fund that provides financial assistance for those in need.

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This cowboy shows the expertise it takes to head a steer in a team roping event. He was a second-place finisher at the Gracie Lee Haught Memorial team roping.

Later this week, the profits will be announced.

The three-day memorial event kicked off Aug. 8 with barrel racing and continued Saturday and Sunday with the second annual Gracie Lee Haught Team Ropin'.

A dance was held in a 40-by-100-foot tent that was set up on the south side of the Payson Event Center. Albert and Charlene Hunt served up about 400 meals of their famous deep-pit beef and plenty of games and activities were available for the younger set.

"The (Mazatzal) Casino helped us get that tent and because of it people hung around from when we opened the gates until closing time," said Bobbie Jo Haught, who helped organize the event in memory of her daughter.

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Waiting team ropers watch as Don Randall successfully lassoes the horns of his steer. Ropers from around the state turned out for the memorial team roping held Aug. 9 and 10 at the Payson Event Center.

Gracie Lee died several years ago at 3 years of age after a tragic accident near Star Valley.

Among the most popular attractions at the celebration were a 30-foot high climbing wall, a dunk tank and a children's water gun fight.

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Julie Taylor wasn't intimidated to compete against the men during the Gracie Lee Haught team roping. She emerged from the fray as a rope bag winner.

"Payson Concrete paid for the climbing wall so the kids could use it for free," Bobbie Jo said. "If George (Randall) hadn't of stepped up, the kids would have had to pay (to climb it)."

Several other games, including a three-legged race, egg toss and shoe scramble, provided even more fun for the youth.

Charlene Hunt, who hosted the barrel racing in addition to helping serve the cowboy dinner, called the weekend an overwhelming success.

"It was tremendous, what a great event it is becoming," she said.

Bobbie Jo agrees, "So many children and their parents showed up which made it fun and a real success.

"We are so thankful to everyone who helped out."

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A high-tech water gun was the name of the game for Zack Lucky during the Gracie Lee Haught Memorial. The only trouble was, his aim was off, mostly because Zack closed the wrong eye when sighting his water gun.

Inside the arena, cowpunchers and weekend ropers from around Arizona showcased their skills during several rounds of team roping.

When the arena dust finally settled Sunday afternoon, Travis Stodghill won the headers' first-place saddle award. Sam Hambrick won it for heelers.

Second-place buckles went to Gordon McHardy, Pat Kirby, Don Randall, Ray Jodie, Bill Sherwood, Bill Jack Ewing and Dustry Haught.

Breast collar third-place winners included Teddy Tomerlin and Travis Ericison.

Rope bag winners were Ralph Romo, Clint James, Julie Taylor and Walt Cline.

Clayton Randall and Travis Whitton won jackets.

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Colton Manchester participating in the Gracie Lee Haught Memorial launches a softball throw hoping it will hit the target and drop the dunk tank.

For parts of the weekend, Bobbie Jo and her daughter, Dazie, lit up the spirits of many by hosting a face-painting booth that was popular among both adults and children.

Hunt called the three days of festivities a proper and fitting kick off to the August Doin's Rodeo Week, which will culminate Aug. 15, 16 and 17 at the Payson Event Center.

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