Payson hosts the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo — it was started in 1884 and celebrates its 125th anniversary in August. Now the men and women who started the event and carried the tradition to world championships are to be honored through the Payson Pro Rodeo Ring of Honor.
The Rim Country and Tonto Basin has produced 11 world champion rodeo competitors over the years and some of them still hold records in their fields.
To honor those world champions and the founders of the Payson Rodeo, the Payson Pro Rodeo Ring of Honor is to be inaugurated this month. A special ceremony, dinner and dance are planned Friday, July 17 at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino.
Farrell Hoosava, a member of the Rodeo Preservation Alliance Committee, conceived the idea of the Ring of Honor. Research on the candidates and materials on their contributions is in the hands of Payson’s official town historian Jayne Peace Pyle, with preparations for the event being supervised by Pyle and Judy Baker.
There will be 14 people inducted into this first Ring of Honor, eight are deceased and six are living. Certificates will be presented to a family representative of the deceased honorees and sterling silver rings will be given to the living inductees.
Posthumous honors will be given to Charlie Meadows, George Cline, Joe Bassett, John Armer, Asbury Schell, Ace Gardner, John Rhodes and Eddie Schell. Rings will go to three world champion cowgirls Nancy Sheppard, Tammy Kelly and Penny Conway and three outstanding cowboys Eddie Conway, Frank Kelly and Harry Shill.
Hoosava and Payson Mayor Kenny Evans will make the presentation of the honors.
Among the special guests will be the son of one of the attendees at the very first Payson Rodeo in 1884. World champion trick rider and trick roper Nancy Sheppard, who still holds the records in the field, will be showing some of her roping spinning skills as part of the evening too. She is a member of the Rodeo Hall of Fame, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Sheppard will also be the grand marshal in the 125th annual World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo parade in August.
The event is sponsored by the Payson Pro Rodeo Preservation and Alliance group, which is working hard to make sure the 2009 August Doin’s continue.
The ceremony, dinner and dance is a chance to rub elbows with Payson area world champion rodeo athletes, so bring an autograph book, rodeo memorabilia or Rodeo 101 book to be signed by these stars of the arena.
The cost is a donation of $1,000 for a table of eight and $125 for individual seats and includes a souvenir from the 125th annual Oldest Continuous Rodeo for each guest.
A prime rib dinner will be served, music will be provided by local artists and there will be a silent auction on both historic cowboy collectibles and new items.
The evening will also be the first opportunity to view the design of the Ring of Honor Memorial to be built at the Payson Event Center rodeo grounds.
For tickets to this dinner, dance and Ring of Honor induction, contact Jayne Peace Pyle at (928) 474-0380 or call Cameron Davis at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7. Doors will open at 5 p.m., with dinner at 6 p.m. The deadline to purchase a ticket or table at the event is Wednesday, July 15.