August Rodeo Wins Crucial Endorsement

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The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association last week gave the Payson Rodeo its official stamp of approval, removing one more threat to the survival of the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo.

The Payson Pro-Rodeo Committee applauded the approval essential to lining up the sponsors needed to underwrite the $150,000 budget for the August event.

“We can go forward with our national sponsors and our local sponsors,” said Rodeo Boss Bill Armstrong, “and ask them for funds and support. Without that sanction, we’d be wasting our time.”

Armstrong said that organizers are also in conversation with country-western Singer Toby Keith, who has Payson ties, about performing at the Aug. 19-21 rodeo.

“There’s a lot of things we’re trying to do,” said Armstrong, “and Toby Keith and some others are stepping forward. Toby Keith loves Payson — he has some dear friends here. We’ve met with him and, if we can get him, I’d sure like to put on something for the people of Payson. We’re looking to see if it fits into his schedule.”

The roughly 140 members of the Pro-Rodeo Committee are now racing to make up for ground lost to the complicated lawsuit that pitted two groups of rodeo backers against one another. Armstrong said everyone is now focused on putting on the August Doin’s.

The Payson Rodeo typically relies on volunteers to run many elements of the rodeo, but still must come up with $150,000 for prize money and to pay for key costs, like the stock contractor.

“So we’ve got to raise $150,000 in about two and a half months,” much of which will come from sponsors.

The rodeo sells sponsors banners and other means of advertising their support for the rodeo. National sponsors include Wrangler, Justin Boots and Dodge.

“We had to have a PRCA-approved rodeo to get those national sponsors,” said Armstrong.

But he said local businesses can also buy banners, which would be hung in the ring during the four performances. “We’re selling banners — so we’re inviting every business that might want to put a banner up.”

The Pro-Rodeo Committee typically donates any profits from staging the rodeo to local charities. In the last couple of years, the committee has cleared about $20,000, mostly as a result of fund-raising events connected to the rodeo — like a dance or last year’s local cowboy hall of fame ceremonies at the casino.

“We’re looking forward to having a very successful rodeo. We want to invite everybody to work together and let’s go forward. It’s going to take this whole town to make this thing successful.”

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