Bass Tourney, Bull Bustin', Rv Show Set For May 16

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Trawling, two-steppin' and bigtime bull bustin' is expected to draw thousands to the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino Big Bass Challenge when it debuts May 16 to 19 at Roosevelt Lake and in Payson.

The trawling will take place during a bass tournament to be contested on the 18-mile long scenic desert lake located in the Tonto National Forest south of Payson. Dance will be spotlighted at country and western concerts to be staged May 16 and 17 at the casino. Bull riding is among the events at the Gary Hardt Memorial Spring Rodeo in the Payson Event Center, across Beeline Highway from the casino.

Adding an even more festive punch to an already revelry filled weekend will be the arrival of a party bus hosted by the Valley country radio station KMLE.

"We are expecting a fun, exciting weekend," said Rich Schultz of Wild West Bass, who is promoting the fishing tournament.

In addition to the tournament, rodeo and concert, there will be an "On the Water Boat Show" at the Roosevelt Lake Marina and an RV, camper and boat show at the casino.

Both boat shows will feature dock boats, ski boats, runabouts, aft cabin cruisers, pontoon boats, fishing boats and houseboats, Schultz said.

The promoter also expects seven major dealers/manufacturers, including Holiday Motorhomes, to participate in the RV show at the casino.

With weather forecasters predicting warm, sunny skies, Payson and Roosevelt are expected to be a red-hot destinations for heat weary desert dwellers who could be trying to escape the Valley's first triple digit temperatures of the year.

Big money

The payouts to the winning anglers in the Big Bass Challenge could turn into some of the most lucrative in tournament fishing.

Schultz said Big Bass cash prizes will be doled out every hour of each day of the tournament beginning at 8 a.m.

The first-place prize is $300, and $100 will be awarded to second- through 10th-place finishers.

Also, those tournament anglers who register at the hotel and casino will be eligible for a $2,500 cash bonus.

That sum will be given to the entrant who catches the largest bass each day and is either registered or checked in at the hotel and casino.

A $1,000 a day cash bonus will be given out to any angler who buys a tournament T-shirt and catches the seventh-place bass during the 11 a.m. to noon weigh in.

Every tournament angler who registers at the hotel and casino will also receive $10 cash back for each day fished.

Wives and significant others of the entrants will also receive the $10.

Also at the casino, a 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 truck will be given away Sunday, May 18.

Details of that giveaway are available at the casino player's club.

Other prizes include a Procraft bass boat with a Mercury outboard and trailer to be awarded to the angler who catches the largest bass during the tournament.

"Both the boat and the truck are on display at the casino," said Mazatzal Marketing Director Terri Shelow.

Schultz predicts that up to $5,000 could be won each of the three days by the angler who catches the largest bass.

"A lot of money and prizes will be given away," he said.

Entry fee into the tournament is $85 per day and registration may be completed at the casino players' club or online at: http://www.777play.com/05-2008-Big-Bass-Challenge.htm

There's more

Those looking for a respite from fishing action may attend rodeo performances which begin at 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday evening.

Formerly an old-timers' rodeo, it became the Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo several years ago to honor the memory of the Payson native who died in 1987.

Hardt was a well-known roper and was recognized throughout the Southwest for his bull riding talents.

Proceeds from the memorial event are used to benefit local youth in their quest of educational and athletic goals.

The Payson Pro Rodeo Committee, led by Bill Armstrong, coordinates the event.

On Saturday evening, Bison Homes and the casino will host a free dinner for all fishermen, and their families, registered in the tournament.

"The picnic dinner, which will be held in the East parking lot, is also open to the public for $7," Shelow said.

The concert on Friday evening will feature Amy Scruggs and the Vintage Cowboys and highly popular Mogollon.

Just about everyone who has ever attended a rodeo dance in Arizona knows of the band that has its origins in Overgaard and whose name is derived from the Rim that dominates the local landscape.

Over the years, the group has built a reputation as one of the premier country rock groups in the country.

On Saturday evening, Rondavous and Jerrod Niemann will perform. Originally, Harry Luge was to also perform, but he has been scratched, Shelow said.

More giveaways

The Challenge festivities got off to a jump-start May 10 at the Payson Wildlife Festival in Green Valley Park.

There, town parks and recreation officials awarded gift certificates to 50 lucky youngsters to purchase new bicycles at the Payson Wal-Mart store.

The gift certificates were purchased with donations from Big Bass Challenge sponsors Bill Luke Dodge and Schultz.

"It's our way of doing something for the community," Schultz said.

The boys and girls also received tackle boxes donated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and bike safety helmets from the Gracie Haught Children's fund.

"It was great we were able to do this for the kids with the help of the (Challenge) sponsors," Town outdoor recreation coordinator Mary McMullen said.

With a full slate of activities highlighting the calendar, the weekend is sure to be one that won't soon be forgotten.

So, grab your cowboy hat and enjoy the wild adrenalin rush of three fun-filled days in the Rim Country.

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