Finest Fiddlers Frolic At Festival

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September is going to go out with a blast. Two big events will close the month and welcome autumn. Both will take place at Green Valley Park.

The 39th annual Vertielee Floyd Memorial Old Time Fiddlers Contest and the Payson Heritage Fest are planned for the weekend of Sept. 26.

Fiddling fun

The Vertielee Floyd Memorial Old Time Fiddlers Contest is a new name for an old contest. It used to be the Arizona State Championship Old Time Fiddlers Contest. It will be held Saturday, Sept. 26 and Sunday, Sept. 27. Fiddlers from all over Arizona come to play at this contest and the winners are sent to Weiser, Idaho to play in the national championship.

Guests will enjoy the talents showcased in the many different divisions: Small Fry for ages 3-9, Junior-Junior for ages 10-12, Junior for ages 13-17, Young Adult for ages 18-39, Adult for ages 40-64, Senior for ages 65-plus. Divisions include Trick Fiddling, Fancy Fiddling, Twin Fiddling, and Cross-Tuned Fiddling. The Championship division features the top 18 from each age division.

Saturday the gates open at 9 a.m., with opening ceremonies planned for 9:30 a.m. The contests begin at 10 a.m., starting with Small Fry players and going through the Trick Fiddler Division, with the awards program to close the day. Sunday is the day of the fiddling championship contests, gates will open at 8:30 a.m. with a gospel program at 9:30 a.m. The fancy fiddling contest will follow the final championship round, with the awards ceremony closing the day.

The contest is put on by the Payson Fiddlers Committee and co-sponsored by the Town of Payson.

Admission into this contest is $8 for adults, with children 12 and under admitted free of charge.

No food, coolers, or pets allowed in the contest area, but visitors can bring one sealed bottle of water per person and vendors will have other refreshments for sale.

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 it was like in Payson during the late 1800s. This year the Heritage Festival is combined with the Fiddles Contest. 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, 10-gallon hat toss, etc.); horse and buggy rides; a visit from the Hashknife Pony Express riders; old-fashioned gun fight re-enactments; horseshoeing; 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 and 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.

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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