The recent article regarding the usage of the event center was very saddening to those of us with a long history involving the Payson Rodeo Grounds. Although I was not in attendance with “my cowboy hat in hand” at the council meeting I can assure the town council that those that were there did not just get their hats out for the meeting, that is a part of Payson.
The various facilities for the rodeo grounds over the years were built by cowboy volunteers. From Main Street to the 260 to Rumsey Park and eventually to the current location, many long hours and donated materials went into making a facility for community use. I am sure that many of those volunteers would be disappointed to be told to “Cowboy Up, Freeloaders.”
As a charter member of the Mogollon Montoneras that started in the Rim Country in 1967, I can remember when we held the first gymkhana and then sanctioned an Arizona Junior Rodeo for many years. Rodeo enthusiasts from around the state looked forward to the summer junior rodeo “in the pines.” These events were put on entirely by volunteers! Local families looked forward to the gymkhanas and rodeos as well as the dances and other events at the rodeo grounds.
The current situation has led to a rodeo grounds that is owned by the city which has possibly lost sight of what is important. The Mogollon Montoneras are now having gymkhanas for fourth generations but because of the new policies, these children will not have those opportunities. Many of the youth in the area are fortunate to have horses, but the expense of traveling out of town is too great. The gymkhanas gave the opportunity for them to not only compete, but form bonds with others, learn sportsmanship and most importantly, make life-long memories.
When looking at Payson’s current economy it appears that we would want as many visitors as possible. Two other state youth rodeo organizations that have held sanctioned rodeos in Payson are going to have to go elsewhere due to the exorbitant fees projected by the Payson Parks and Recreation.
It makes me wonder why we must charge such great amounts when other communities invite these groups to their facilities? I know that families that rodeo all have to purchase fuel, most eat out, some rent motels, watch movies, shop, etc. in every town they visit. It would be nice to know the revenue that these events bring to our town.
According to the Roundup, the town council is “scrambling for ways to make up for a steep drop in sales tax revenue.” Is it best to disregard our western heritage and traditions in our youth and families?
The town has shut down most of the subsidies it has given in the past, but when an event is put on solely by volunteers, subsidies would seem appropriate. In order to alleviate many of the projected fees, local individuals have volunteered their services and equipment but the Parks and Recreation have denied this option.
I am sure that policies are put in place for a reason, however, a nonprofit, insured, youth-oriented event has a lot of positive aspects to consider. I sincerely hope that when the event center is no longer a community focal point as it has been for many years, that the town council will remember their vote to make these organizations, “Cowboy Up and Stop Freeloading!”
Nancy Parker Jamison