The Mogollon Rim is a beautiful place with a bounty of hunting, fishing and hiking opportunities, but it also provides a cradle to nurture the bounty that makes a great county fair.
That bounty has been celebrated for more than 50 years — in Pine for many of those and more recently in Payson. The 57th Annual Northern Gila County Fair is next weekend at the Payson Event Center.
The fair will be held at the PEC from Friday through Sunday, Sept. 9, 10 and 11. It is too late to submit livestock to the fair, but all non-livestock entries for the fair can still be submitted between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Judging will be held Thursday, Sept. 8 and the fair opens to the public at 9 a.m., Friday, Sept. 9, the exhibits will close that day at 6 p.m. The exhibition tent is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 10 and from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 11.
Friday is the day school children get to come to the fair on field trips. “There will probably be about a thousand kids through there on Friday,” said 4-H Extension Officer Lani Hall. “They are all so excited to see their class exhibits on display.”
In addition to the exhibits from the different classes at area schools, there are displays of FFA and 4-H livestock projects, as well as livestock and small animals submitted for judging by area residents in the open divisions — agriculture, horticulture and floriculture entries; homemaking arts; domestic science projects; canning; hobbies and handicrafts; minerals and lapidary; fine arts; photography; and additional entries from 4-H members.
In addition to all the exhibits, a variety of activities will be held in the arena at the Payson Event Center.
The regular Turn and Burn Series Barrel Race and Pole Bending event, sponsored by the Town of Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, will take place starting at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Events planned for the arena on Friday, Sept. 9 are: 10 a.m., llama judging and show; buddy showmanship, 3 p.m.; open livestock show, 4 p.m.; 4-H/FFA livestock judging and show, 5 p.m.; 4-H speed events, 6 p.m.; and 4D Barrel Race, 7:30 p.m.
Admission to the arena events is $5 per car.
At the arena on Saturday, Sept. 10, the events are: 4-H and open horse show, 8 a.m.; small livestock show, 9 a.m.; and livestock auction, 5 p.m.
Among the special events planned for the fair are an archery shoot by the members of the new 4-H Archery Club at 10 a.m., Friday, Sept. 9. The shoot will be among 12 members of the group, both girls and boys, ranging in age from 9 to 14. The youngsters will be vying for trophies.
Following the livestock auction about 40 students from Dynamite Dance and Gymnastics will perform in the main arena.
Residents can also enter the popular scarecrow construction contest by the Agriculture and Horticulture Department and the Floriculture Department.
The weekend at the Northern Gila County Fair will be topped off in the arena at noon (gates open at 11:30 a.m.) Sunday with the Demolition Derby. Admission is $10 for adults; $15 for those 13 to 4; with those 3 and younger admitted free of charge.