The recent rodeo weekend may still be on most people's minds, but there are some residents with another weekend in their thoughts. The 54th Annual Northern Gila County Fair is just three weeks away and the call has gone out to get entries ready.
The fair is open to the public beginning at 9 a.m., Friday, Sept. 5 through Sunday, Sept. 7.
Most entries must be brought to the exhibit areas on Wednesday and Thursday. Livestock, rabbit and bird exhibit entries can be submitted between noon at 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 4 at the Payson Event Center.
All other entries will be accepted between noon and 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3 at the Tonto Apache Tribe Exhibit Hall.
There are several events to which the public is invited prior to the opening of fair exhibits.
A carnival, Extreme Ink Games & Rides, will be open at 5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at the event center, and again at 2 p.m., Friday and 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday.
There will be a barrel race and pole bending competition at the event center arena starting at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3; and 4-H speed events in the arena beginning at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 4.
Special events on Friday, Sept. 5 include the 4-H horse show at 8 a.m. at the event center and livestock judging and show at 5 p.m., under the big tent at the event center.
Saturday, the open horse show starts at 8 a.m. in the arena; the livestock auction -- for steers, hogs, goats and sheep -- is at 5 p.m., under the big tent; and there will be a dance at the event center from 7 to 10 p.m., with Junction 87 performing, sponsored by the Payson Optimist Club and the Northern Gila County Fair, with only $5 requested for admission.
Registration is required to participate in the auction. Participants may register at 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6 and they will have the opportunity to enjoy the "Buyers Dinner" prepared by Ronnie McDaniel and Terry Phillips.
Sunday, the 3rd Annual Demolition Derby will be held at the event center. Gates open at 11:30 a.m., with the contests starting at 1:30 p.m.
This event is sponsored by Honeycutt Rodeo, Chapman Auto Center and Payson Parks and Recreation.
There is no charge to submit an entry to the fair, however entrants must be Gila County residents, having resided within the county for at least 30 days prior to the fair. Non-animal entries must have been made during the year of the fair. The exhibitor is solely responsible for deciding on the proper class and lot number for each entry. Improperly classified entries will not be changed and will not be judged.
Each exhibit must be well-marked with an entry tag (this is separate from the entry forms found in the fair book).
Cash prizes are awarded for first, second and third place wins -- $3, $2 and $1 respectively. Plus there are several special awards.
The Zane Grey Award is presented to the entry that best depicts life in the Rim Country of the Old West. Members of the Northern Gila County Historical Society and the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation will do the judging. Points will be based on Old West authenticity, skills required, originality and quality.
The Fred Chilson Pioneer Ranching Award is presented to the youth exhibitor or adult leader in the livestock division. The Northern Gila County Fair Steering Committee, livestock superintendent and leaders will do judging from 4-H and FFA.
The award is based on leadership, responsibility, citizenship and professionalism. The Mary Ellen Randall Award is presented to a youth exhibitor or adult leader in the equestrian division.
Judging is by the fair steering committee, horse superintendent and 4-H leaders. The award is based on leadership, responsibility, citizenship and professionalism. These awards may or may not be awarded and are based on merit.
New this year is the Lacey Balmer Oldland High Point Youth All-Around Award for the open horse show.
A special contest is planned for participants in the agriculture and horticulture, as well as the floriculture divisions this year.
Design a scarecrow on a 6-foot pointed stake that is from 4 to 5 feet high, with an arm spread between 2 and 4 feet. The winner will receive a gift certificate to Plant Fair Nursery.
Premium (fair) books for the 54th Annual Northern Gila County Fair, along with required entry tags, are available at the libraries in Payson and Pine, and at the Payson parks office in Green Valley Park.