Payson and the surrounding area have long had a reputation as being quite a party place. With the 4th of July falling on a Saturday this year, it provides a perfect opportunity to look back upon some of the festive times had in this area.
For a long time dances were regularly held, bringing together those from far around the region. Naturally the holidays were celebrated and few bigger than the fourth of July as these clips show.
“Residents of Green Valley and vicinity are making preparations for a big time on the 4th. The programme comprises: Reading of Declaration of Independence, oration, races (pony purses) 1st saddle horses, 2nd colts, two year olds. The celebration is to conclude with a grand arbor dance in the evening.” - Arizona Silver Belt, June 28, 1884
“Independence Day at Green Valley. A communication from Payson, Green Valley, describing the celebration there on the 5th inst, is unavoidably crowded out. Our correspondent writes that they had an old fashioned barbecue, Mr. Houston having furnished a fine ox. The ladies made donations of substantial edibles and a variety of delicacies, making a royal feast. There was speaking by Judge Wm. Burch and Wm. Houston, followed by singing of national songs; reading of a patriotic poem by Miss D. Ellison; reading of Declaration of Independence by U.Z. Curtis; recitation, “American Flag,” by Miss Lena Ellison and a fine oration by Wm. H. Caffery, orator of the day. In the evening a ball was given at Cresswell’s store, which proved a highly enjoyable affair.” - Arizona Silver Belt, July 17, 1886
Sometimes you didn’t need a holiday to party as this clip from 1886 shows.
“Ed. Belt: - Mrs. Ada Bowers gave a dance, which attracted a large number of the best people of the neighborhood, who were not long in utilizing the music after the bow was rosined [?]. The grand march was the first in order, after which the quadrille and then the waltz, or hugging set to music, and in this order joy was unconfined until midnight, when those who were jolly as jolly could be and were bound to make a night of it, evinced a feeling of “goneness” that always follows prolonged and active exercise; the soul of music slumbered and the sound of shuffling feet were no longer heard after Mrs. Bowers announced supper. The spread was flanked by hock and tokay and other sparkling wines, which stood in martial order, leaving the imagination to fix the resemblance between the bottles and Georgia majors when on dress parade. The wine was not all that popped on that occasion, the sound from another room of parting ambrosial lips, of the pair who declined a pressing invitation to supper, because they were not hungry, was heard above the revel of knives and forks, which caused a giggle and an adroitly switching off “from present conversations” to midnight atmospheric changes, from cold to hot, especially when Jack Frost was doing his level best to assist the frigidity of the ice-cream freezer. Tis not strange, however, that persons, under certain circumstances, loose their appetite for chicken pie and scolloped oysters. After supper the dance was resumed and continued until the lusty rooster announced the coming day. The party was pronounced a happy affair; but where is that party now?” - Arizona Silver Belt, October 24, 1885
Payson and the surrounding region has been host through the years to plenty of great parties. Surely, more legendary parties will be added in 2009.