World’S Oldest Continuous Rodeo Celebrates 126 Years


Payson is where rodeo began in 1884, organized by “Arizona” Charlie Meadows and others and fashioned after the Wild West shows that were popular at the time.

So, in 2010 the Annual World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo will celebrate its 126th consecutive year Friday, Aug. 20 through Sunday, Aug. 22.

Rodeo performances start at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday night and at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Friday night’s show is the Tough Enough to Wear Pink show, which raises funds for breast cancer research and support groups. Sunday is Family Day.

Also part of this year’s event is a rodeo dance on both Friday and Saturday night at the historic Oxbow Saloon on Main Street where music featuring Rendezvous inside plus another band outside begins at 9 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. Plus, there will be a parade the morning of Saturday, Aug. 21.

The parade theme is Ropin’ and Ridin’ and will be held on Historic Main Street in Payson. The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and APS sponsor the parade.

Parade entries will be accepted until Aug. 14. For parade applications, please stop by the chamber office at the corner of Highway 87 and West Main Street, or go online to

The first rodeos in Payson were held to provide local ranchers and cowhands a chance to get together and compare their roping skills and cow ponies during the annual “down time” before the big fall roundup.

There were only a couple of events in those early rodeos, but it was not long before cowboys from all over the state were showing up to compete in new events like bronc busting, bull riding and steer roping.

Early Payson rodeos weren’t held in fancy arenas. In fact, the original venue was a meadow near the intersection of Main Street and Highway 87/The Beeline. Wagons and later autos created barriers to form the “arena.”

The Payson August rodeo was named the country’s Best Small Rodeo (according to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, which sanctions the event), it continues to attract the best of the best to compete for the substantial prize money.

Tickets are available at the gate and at Admission is $18 for adults, $16 for seniors 65+, and $10 for kids 8-12. For more information, call (928) 474-9440 or go online to


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