Rim Museum Celebrates Strong Growth

Donations set stage for Heritage Festival, with Zane Grey treasures, fiddlers, cowboys and Indians


The Rim Country Museum and its sister site, the replica of the famous Zane Grey Cabin, are enjoying a season of growth and an expansion of services.

Two weeks ago, Aug. 22, the Zane Grey Cabin and Rim Country Museum were presented with a lifetime’s collection of Zane Grey memorabilia by the family of the late Gilbert W. “Gib” Stiles.

Born in Illinois, a graduate of both Harvard and Yale, Stiles had a passion for everything in the West and a special place in his heart for all things Zane Grey.

As a legacy to their father, the children of Gib Stiles donated his extensive collection of Zane Grey artifacts and books to the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation and the Rim Country Museum at Payson’s Green Valley Park. A plaque acknowledging the donation is now on the south wall of the main room of the replicated cabin, which was destroyed by the Dude Fire in the early 1990s.

Stiles’ children, Bob, Wendy and Laurie, did not want the collection of the longtime member of the Zane Grey West Society broken up. So, with the advice and help of noted Arizona television newsman Bill Close, Dick Wolfe and others, the collection was donated to the cabin and museum.

“There is no better way to honor our father than with this lasting memorial,” said Laurie at the dedication.

Weather reports

The Rim Country Museum gift shop and offices are in what was once the Payson Forest Ranger’s home. While the late Anna Mae Deming was the community’s national weather observer for more than 50 years, the ranger’s place also provided space for weather recording apparatus.

According to Judy Buettner, president of the Northern Gila County Historical Society, weather reporting was started in 1945 to provide the military with information about conditions that could have an impact on flights over the Mogollon Rim.

A new apparatus at the site now does the job, tended to by members of the Historical Society, who make daily reports to the National Weather Service in Flagstaff.

Stunning new video

Among the eight new volunteers who have joined the Rim Country Museum team this year are Jim and Dani Woods, who have brought some special talents to the group.

With Jim’s help, Dani has created a video using the museum’s materials. Her creation will be premiered for guests at the Saturday, Sept. 26 Historical Society benefit banquet at the Mazatzal Casino. 

Historical Society members and Payson history buffs are invited to attend. Dinner is included in the price of admission, which is $35 per person.      

Recently KMOG chose the Rim Country Museum as the only organization to be given the late Marguerite Noble’s radio talks — 400 history nuggets from which Dani Woods selected cowboy stories and paired them with historic pictures from the museum’s files to make a 30-minute video. Her talent brings history to life.

Don’t miss hearing Marguerite Noble narrate stories of local cowboys, enhanced by pictures from Rim Country’s early days. This one-of-a-kind presentation celebrates Marguerite Noble’s work, showcases local pioneer families, and demonstrates the advances made at our museum in the past few years.

Tickets are available at the Rim Country Museum in Green Valley Park, open every day except Tuesday, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Rim Country Chamber of Commerce and the Payson Library will also have the tickets available.

Heritage Festival

The banquet and special program at the casino events facility cap off a day of historically themed events at the annual Payson Heritage Festival.

The Payson Heritage Festival is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26 at Green Valley Park. The festival is a celebration of Payson’s Western, Native American and Pioneer heritage and features along with music, art displays and cultural activities. Take a step back in time and visit each “village” to experience what is was like in Payson during the late 1800s. This year, the Heritage Festival is combined with the 39th Annual Old Time Fiddle Championships. Antique tractors will take you from one event to the other and back.

The “villages” include Western Cowboy Ranch activities, Native American Camp activities and Pioneer Village activities; additional programs are also planned.

The Western Cowboy Ranch activities include a branding demonstration, roping competition, Little Tikes Buckin’ Barrel Ride, cowboy games (poker, ten gallon hat toss, etc.), horse and buggy rides, a visit from the Hashknife Pony Express Riders, old-fashioned gunfight reenactments, horseshoeing demonstrations and cowboy poetry.

Several Native American groups first inhabited Arizona’s Rim Country, but it is the Tonto Apaches that have made it their home for hundreds of years. They were here when Union soldiers arrived to secure the region from Confederate intrusion. In fact, the soldiers dubbed this area “Apacheria.” The Heritage Festival offers a chance to learn more about their lives, their families and their traditions.

The Native American Camp activities will include Native American Youth Dancers, a teepee tour, Native American jewelry displays, Native American arts and crafts, and basket weaving demonstrations.

From gold seekers to farmers to cattle ranchers, Payson’s pioneer heritage is what shaped the rough Rim Country into the community it is day. A tour around town and a visit to the Rim Country Museum will leave you with an understanding of their sacrifice and perseverance. Planned Pioneer Village activities include candle making, soap making, a cabin display, pioneer handcart displays, pioneer games, quilting displays and demonstrations.

The day will also provide lots of options for food and fun, such as hay rides, a barbecue, kettle corn, cotton candy, Navajo fry bread, brats and hot dogs, leather tooling, antique tractor displays, antique photo booth, Zane Grey Cabin tour, Rim Country Museum tour and actors in period costumes. There will also be special performances throughout the day, including Native American Youth Dancers presenting live traditional dances, old-fashioned gunfight reenactments, live music and bands, poetry reading and a pie-eating contest.

The Boy Scouts of America will also be participating in the day’s events, showing off their lashing and survival skills.

To learn more about the Heritage Festival, call the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce at (928) 474-4515 or the Rim Country Museum at (928) 474-3483.


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