In Old West lingo, the Arizona State Junior Rodeo Championships are sure to be “A hog-killing time.” — Which means everyone who participates or is a spectator at the finals is sure to have a rip-snortin’ good time.
The rodeo will play out today, June 18 and tomorrow at the Payson Event Center.
Most importantly, the rodeo gives the Rim Country’s fledgling cowboys and cowgirls a chance to showcase their skills in front of parents, grandparents and friends.
The results: plenty of hugs, cheers and “atta boys” as spectators enthusiastically recognize the children in events like barrel racing, pole bending calf tying, team roping, ribbon roping and some rough stock events.
Among the locals expected to participate are Bryndee Hall, Brylee Hall, Monty James, Chelsie Stodghill, Jessi James and Bryce Stodghill.
Bryndee Hall, 10, enters the junior high title competition fresh off winning the Queen Creek Rodeo Association All-Around crown excelling in ribbon roping, goat tying and pole bending.
Stodghill is also an accomplished rodeo performer especially in the roping events.
At last year’s Gracie Lee Haught Memorial Team Roping, she joined forces with Joe Mike Clem to finish fourth in the average among the No. 10 adult ropers.
All those from Payson excelled during the past AJRA circuit and are among the favorites to walk away with prizes.
The junior rodeo returns to Payson for championship finals after an absence of 25 years.
The finals were traditionally held in Payson from 1969 to 1985, but then moved to other locations for reasons not entirely known to past sponsors.
Nancy Parker Jamison, who helped host the past championships as a member of the Mogollon Montoneras, recalls that the children who were active early on moved to high school “and then we lost some of our support.”
The finals mark the culmination of the 2010 season that made earlier stops in St. Johns, Williams, Florence, Buckeye, Marana, Gilbert and Wilcox.
For the championships, events tip off at noon today in PEC with a second round to begin at 8 a.m. tomorrow, June 19.
The awards ceremony will begin at 7 p.m., Saturday. Each event winner will receive prizes and all-around saddles will go to high-point champions in each age group.
For young wranglers, winning a saddle is the pinnacle of accomplishment in rodeo and will be a goal of all those who enter. Spectators are welcome and there is no admission charge.