A highlight of the spring season for the past 17 years has been the Payson Wildlife Fair. It’s a festive event that draws onlookers, many of them representing the younger set, from around Gila and Coconino counties.
The event is a chance to walk on the wild side, without ever leaving the friendly confines of Green Valley Park.
The inaugural Wildlife Fair began as a simple affair inside the Rim Country Middle School gymnasium and was attended only by local students.
Since those humble origins, it’s grown to become a top-notch extravaganza, which is both fun and educational.
This spring, the much-anticipated fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, May 7 at Green Valley Park. Admission is free.
One of the most popular attractions of the day will be the free fishing program. Free bait and tackle will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department will stock the lake with plenty of catchable-size trout. The presence of those fish should greatly enhance fishing opportunities that day.
Other attractions include fly-fishing clinics, wildlife displays, hands-on activities and the traditional appearance of Smokey Bear. Visitors also have the opportunity to view live birds, fish and reptiles including rattlesnakes, Gila monsters and an alligator.
Live music usually fills the air and the Mogollon Sporting Association hosts a food booth that offers up hot dogs and hamburgers, traditionally cooked up by longtime MSA member Jack Koon and his sidekicks.
There will also be games and prizes.
Arizona Game and Fish wildlife manager Natalie Robb is calling the fair, “A great way for the family to spend a Saturday.”
The Mogollon Sporting Association, U.S. Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department and the local Optimist Club sponsor the annual event.
Children and their families can fish for free during the Payson Wildlife Fair and receive help from Arizona Game and Fish staff if needed.
For more information, call the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.
Little League golf benefit
Payson Little League is hosting its annual benefit golf tournament on May 21 at Payson Golf Course.
The four-man scramble tees off at 8:30 a.m. with a shotgun start. The entry fee is $65 per player and is tax deductible.
The fee includes 18 holes of play, cart, catered lunch, prizes and contests.
Among the contests will be closest to the pin, longest drive and a “Las Vegas hole” where players can wager on whether they can slap a tee shot into a pre-drawn circle.
Also, Little League is in need of hole, prize and team sponsors.
Tournament co-director Duane Kaufman said the local Little League program desperately depends on the funds earned in the annual tournament and he’s inviting all golfers, no matter their skill level, to turn out in support of Rim Country youth.
Entry forms are available at Payson Golf Course or by calling Kaufman at (928) 978-1946 or Bob Ferkol at (928) 978-3772.
RCMS on the move
As part of the “Let’s Move in School” national health and sports program, about 400 Rim Country Middle School students and their teachers will at 3 p.m., today, Friday, May 6, walk the perimeters of both middle and high schools.
All the students will be in sixth through eighth grades.
RCMS PE teacher Jackie Wallace said the walk begins on the east side of the school, and then travels south and west of the campuses before returning to the school on Longhorn.
The goal of Let’s Move in School is to ensure that every school provides a comprehensive physical activity program with a quality physical education foundation.
With this foundation, Rim Country Middle School students can develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to be physically active for a lifetime.