Whew. Nothing blew up. Praise the Lord. In fact, the 125th running of the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo went beautifully.
Despite the recession, the headliner Saturday session filled to the brim.
The Payson Rodeo Preservation Alliance did a great job, by all accounts.
We also appreciated some of the creative additions to the fun of rodeo week – even though some of them wobbled a bit with the sheer newness of it all. So we had fun watching our own guitar heroes gyrating in the drizzle, savored the small town goofyness of the parade and appreciated watching Dan Majerle swish them in from three-point range.
We’re still waiting for a final count on attendance, but some creative marketing and a little word-of-mouth filled the stands, despite the effects of the ongoing recession. By most accounts, the hotels filled up and shops did a decent business over the weekend.
So we extend our thanks and congratulations to the organizers and to the roughly 75 volunteers who participated.
Now we hope that in this moment of success – folks on both sides of the sometimes bitter division between the Alliance and the stalwarts of the Pro Rodeo Committee will sit down and work out the future of the world’s longest running rodeo.
Both sides have already done a commendable job of keeping egos and hurt feelings in check. The long, inconclusive negotiations, the abrupt transition, the inevitable wounds all pushed the already beleaguered, rodeo-loving folks here to the brink of a civil war that could only hurt the large community and the rodeo itself.
We’re grateful for that.
But still, this year we missed the stalwarts who have shed blood, broke bones and given years of their lives to the rodeo.
But now it’s time to recall the sense of community that gave birth to the Payson rodeo in the first place. Like the town itself, rodeo here betokened the easy-going, cooperative spirit necessary for any frontier community to survive.
Those early cowboys who rounded up their scattered herds and shared the good grass and open ground here knew how to mingle laughter, competition and cooperation.
Granted, you could turn to history for plenty of examples of foolish, mindless animosity – starting with the Pleasant Valley War.
But that’s not how Payson got its start and those settlers turned this rough country into our treasure.
So it’s time to prove that spirit hasn’t died here in Rim Country.
So we hope that the Alliance and the Committee will make sure that the 126th staging of the best community rodeo in the country will involve everyone who loves rodeo.
After all, you can saddle a horse backwards and ride around the ring swishing the beast’s tail by hand – but you’ll look pretty silly doing it.