Recalling a time when historic Main Street hummed as the center of Payson, a steady stream of visitors gathered to listen to Junction 87 play country music in front of Bootleg Alley and browsed through local shops during First Friday.
The Senior Center remained closed, but the Rim Country Republican Club table, manned by President Andy McKinney, set up shop in the parking lot.
“Are you registered to vote?” McKinney asked passersby.
Local Councilor Sue Connell took in the sights and sounds early in the evening, before grabbing a barbecue sausage.
Nick and Alicia Blasingame of Farmington, N.M., in Payson to visit with Alicia’s family Hoyt and Alice Kenmore wandered by with their two Yorkie terriers, Boots and Lacey. The dogs contentedly sat in their carrier, loath to touch their paws to the hot pavement, their heads covered by the canopy of the stroller.
“I enjoy the music, but love the artists at the Lone Pine Art Gallery. The dogs just enjoy everything,” said Alicia.
Several nonprofits set up tables outside Bootleg Alley, which included the Payson Pro-Rodeo Committee and the Humane Society of Central Arizona.
Scoops Ice Cream and Espresso set up a portable ice cream cart to keep folks cool with ice cream.
The five daughters of John Ball bought cones and quickly licked their ice cream to keep it from melting as the youngest played tag with Noah, the 3-year-old son of Scoops owners Chris and Marie Higgins.
“We came down to enjoy the music and spend time with the grandchildren for the holiday,” said grandparents Steve and Nancy Ball of Albuquerque.
Junction 87 band members got funky, donning various costumes to represent different musicians, such as Willie Nelson.
“We play country and rock and roll from Willie, to Elvis and Buddy Holly,” said the leader of the band.
As the air began to cool and guests wandered off into the evening, the band played one last song to close up a successful event to kick off the long Fourth of July weekend.