It was a long, cold, wet winter in Arizona. But the days are longer and warmer and it’s time to shake off the weariness of winter and let the good times roll.
The Annual Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo is the perfect excuse to unwind and have some fun.
The rodeo events are Thursday, May 13; Friday, May 14; and Saturday, May 15 at the Payson Multi-Event Center on Highway 87 across from the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino.
The opening event is the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association program at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 13 at the Event Center. Gates open at 5 p.m. and admission is a can of food to benefit the area’s food banks.
Friday night is the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” performance, where cowboys and fans alike wear pink to help local breast cancer support groups. For all wearing pink, $1 per fan and $3 per contestant is donated to the local groups.
More than 200 contestants are expected to compete for this year’s event.
Guiding the audience through the action will be announcers Reed Flake and Rob Schmidt.
Flake was born in Snowflake, and when he is not calling the action from inside the arena he is running his own ranch. He is a team roping contractor and is often seen around Arizona’s high country rodeos. His resume includes Turquoise Circuit Finals announcer, three times; National Finals Rodeo announcer, 11 times; Wrangler Divisional Finals announcer, two times; USTRC Events and Finals announcer, 15 years.
Rodeo boss Bill Armstrong said Schmidt is a world champion bull rider and a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and Professional Bull Riders Association. He will be providing commentary on the bull riding contests this weekend.
John Beck will provide the specialty act. Beck, a resident of Utah, is a Professional Rodeo Clown and Barrelman with the PRCA.
He has always had a passion for rodeo and began his training as a rodeo clown at the tender age of 8, taking to the arena on his own at 13. He became a PRCA member in 2002.
Arizona rodeo royalty will also be part of the 2010 Gary Hardt Memorial Spring Rodeo. Miss Turquoise Circuit Avery Williams and Miss Rodeo Arizona Destiny Vaught will be in the grand entry at both performances Friday and Saturday.
Performances start at 7 p.m. each evening and the gates open at 5 p.m. for some pre-rodeo entertainment. Tickets for adults 12 to 64 are $14, seniors $12 and children 8 to 12 $10, 7 and under are free. All active military admitted at no charge.
Tickets may be reserved online at www.paysonrim country.com or www.ticketforce.com or purchased at the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bob’s Western Wear and the Circle K stores in Payson, as well as Bill Armstrong’s Jewelry and Pawn in Star Valley.
A Rodeo Dance at the Historic Oxbow Saloon on Main Street will be held both Friday and Saturday nights, with music by Junction 87. The doors open at 6 p.m. and music starts at 9 p.m., a $5 cover charge begins at 8 p.m.
This memorial event, coordinated by the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee, benefits local youth through scholarship awards and other assistance.
For added information, call Bill Armstrong at (928) 474-9440.