History And Fiddling Fold Into Fun

Enjoy finest fiddling and Rim Country heritage Sept. 25-26



Northern Gila County Historical Society photo

The late Marguerite Noble recorded a wonderful collection of stories about the history of the Rim Country with KMOG Radio over the years. The station donated copies of those recordings to the Northern Gila County Historical Society, which Noble helped organize and thrive. Several of those recordings have been paired with historic photos onto a special video program to be previewed Sept. 26.

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+. There will also be divisions for 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. and there will be a gospel program at 9:30 a.m. There will be two rounds of championship play, broken up by the twin fiddling contest. 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.

There will be no food, coolers, or pets allowed in the contest area. Organizers will be allowing one sealed bottle of water per person and vendors will have other refreshments and more 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 is was like in Payson during the late 1800’s. 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 gun fight reenactments; horseshoeing demonstration; and cowboy poetry.

Several different 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; and quilting displays and demonstrations.

The day will also provides 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 gun fight reenactments; 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.

The annual fund-raising banquet for the Northern Gila County Historical Society concludes Saturday’s festivities. The highlight of the banquet will be the premiere of a 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 unique 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 an amazing 30-minute video.  Her talent brings history to life.


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