At an afternoon hearing Wednesday, both sides of lawyers on the August rodeo dispute agreed to work together to quickly and as cheaply as possible come to a resolution.
Gila County Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill said it is crucial that a compromise is reached swiftly so the planning of the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo is uninterrupted.
Despite his busy schedule, Cahill said he is “not to jammed up to take care of this important manner to our community.”
A trial is likely to take place the first or second week of May depending on Cahill’s schedule and the lawyer’s ability to collect evidence and interview witnesses. No decision regarding who would run the rodeo was made Wednesday.
At stake is the right to put on the August Doin's, which has been held in Payson for the last 125 years and is major tourist draw during the summer.
The Alliance alleges that the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce violated its contract when it sold the rights to the rodeo to the Payson Pro-Rodeo Committee without giving the Alliance a chance to make a final offer.
The Committee maintains that the Alliance had its chance and the Chamber was free to sell the rodeo to the Committee.
Determined to put on the event, the Alliance filed for rights to the name “World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo, “ dropping the word “Annual” in January 2010, contacted the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and filed a suit against the Committee. The Committee followed suit and filed a counter lawsuit against rodeo boss and Alliance member Chuck Jackman.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Cahill consolidated the two cases into one at the lawyer’s request.
The Alliance’s lawyer Neal Bookspan and Payson Pro-Rodeo Committee lawyers Gregory Miles and Mark Lassiter said they are actively working together to expedite a trial.
Miles said with the rodeo taking place in August, a resolution needs to happen in May so whichever group gets rights to the event has enough time to plan it.
Cahill left it in the hands of the lawyers to work out a schedule for a one to two day trial in early May.