The entries came rolling into the Payson Event Center all afternoon Wednesday. The judges buckled down with their clipboards and notes throughout Thursday, choosing the winners for the 56th Annual Northern Gila County Fair.
Today, Friday, Sept. 10, the public was welcomed in to marvel at the creations of the talented and green-thumbed folks of the Rim Country.
They don’t do it for the money. Cash prizes are pretty small — a blue ribbon earns the entrant $3, a red ribbon is worth $2 and a white ribbon wins $1. But those ribbons come with bragging rights.
And then there are those special recognition awards — the ones not always presented: the Zane Grey Award, the Fred Chilson Pioneer Ranching Award and the Mary Ellen Randall Award.
The Zane Grey Award is presented to the entry in the fair that best depicts life in the Rim Country of the Old West. Judging is by members of the Northern Gila County Historical Society and the Zane Grey Cabin Foundation. Points are based on Old West authenticity, skill required, originality and quality.
The Fred Chilson Pioneer Ranching Award is presented to a youth exhibitor or adult leader in the livestock division of the Northern Gila County Fair.
Judging is by the Northern Gila County Fair Steering Committee, livestock superintendent and leaders from 4-H and FFA. The award is based on leadership, responsibility, citizenship and professionalism.
The Mary Ellen Randall Award is presented to the youth exhibitor or adult leader in the equestrian division of the Northern Gila County Fair.
Judging is by the Northern Gila County Fair Steering Committee, the horse superintendent and 4-H leaders. The award is based on leadership, responsibility, citizenship and professionalism.
A more recent addition to the special awards is the Lacey Balmer Oldland High Point Youth All-Around.
The award is part of the Open Horse Show at the fair, which started at 8 a.m. this morning, Friday, Sept. 10 in the Payson Event Center arena in conjunction with the 4-H horse show.
Also taking place in the arena today is the Llama Judging and Show, which started at 10 a.m. The Livestock Judging and Show is under the big tent tonight at 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 10. Admission is free.
This event gives those interested a chance to see some of the livestock that will be auctioned at 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 11 in the arena.
The auction is a chance for the young people who have devoted time, energy and money to raising market animals to recover some of their costs — and possibly make a profit when the animals are purchased by bid. The livestock auction will include, if entered, steers of at least 850 pounds; swine of at least 180 pounds; lambs of at least 80 pounds; and goats of at least 60 pounds.
During the 2009 Northern Gila County Fair, 16 animals were purchased at auction. Making the purchases were Jacqueline Begay, Bill and Laurie Brown, Craig Mathews, Jean Roberson, Mr. and Mrs. Gunderson, Roy Haught, Hinshaw Associates/Cactus Country Enterprises, Brian Jennings and Homer Sanders, Wade Parker, George Randall and Dallas Randall, Reese and Shelly Randall.
The exhibit tents at the Event Center are open until 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 10; from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 11; and from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 12.
Look for some special exhibits in the Floriculture Department as green-thumbed folks compete in some unique contests: the Scarecrow Contest, Chair Arrangement and Wheelbarrow Arrangement.
When viewing the Domestic Science Department exhibit, take a close look at the winning entries; some entrants included the recipes last year.
Wind down from all the fun at the fair with some wild action in the Event Center arena Sunday afternoon, when the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, with Honeycutt Rodeo, presents the annual Demolition Derby.
Gates open at 11:30 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 12 and the action rolls in at 1:30 p.m.