Calling the 2010 Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo “Our finest May rodeo ever,” Bill Armstrong praised the many volunteers and sponsors who helped the event go off without a hitch.
“We couldn’t do it without them; they are the backbone behind everything,” he said.
Armstrong also put aside the controversy recently surrounding the Oldest Continuous Rodeo, held each August, and who owned the rights to it saying, “I’m just trying to put on a rodeo and pull this town together.”
The spring rodeo, which is held each year in memory of Hardt — a former PHS star athlete and local bull rider and roper who died in 1987 in a construction accident — was held May 13, 14 and 15 at the Payson Event Center.
The event drew several cowboys very familiar to local fans including Marana’s Cutter Parsons who rode off into the sunset with $1,825.66 in prize money and the All-Around Cowboy award.
Parsons pocketed $1,263.99 in prize money for winning the steer wrestling in a very quick 4.1 seconds.
The Marana cowboy who has built a reputation as one of the world’s finest calf ropers also won $661.67 for a fourth-place finish in the tie down roping. He was timed in 9.5 seconds.
A cowboy fans definitely took notice of at last weekend’s rodeo was Craig Begay, a Navajo tribal member from Rough Rock who was a 2006 national collegiate finals qualifier for Central Arizona College. He has a bull riding career high point ride of 92 turned in last year in Casper, Wyo.
Although he didn’t do quite as well in Payson, he did win the bull riding aboard Bad Times with a commendable 85 points.
For the win, he received $1,565.17 — the second largest individual payoff in the rodeo.
The biggest paychecks, $1,666.78, were written out to Aaron Tsinigine of Gilbert and Lexington, Okla. cowboy Cory Petska for winning the team roping. The two were timed in 5.4 seconds.
The team roping event also featured a name very familiar to television watchers and car buyers around the state. Hall Earnhardt, III, grandson of Tex Earnhardt, whose “That ain’t no bull” car selling campaign reflects Western culture and humor in television ads, finished fourth. He and his header, Victor Aros of Tucson, roped and tied their calf in 6.5 seconds to win $804.65.
Other event winners at the rodeo were Sydni Blanchard (barrel racing, $1,109.22); Cody Taton (saddle bronc, $1,159.00); Casey Wilson (tie down roping, $1,370.61); and Trey Bissett (bareback roping, $814.62). In all, $30,117.50 was paid out.
Some of the money earned by the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee will be used to fund a college scholarship given out each year to a deserving Payson High School senior.