The traditions of old-fashioned country fairs are celebrated in Rim Country every September. For 57 years Rim residents have enjoyed these traditions at the Northern Gila County Fair.
The 57th annual Northern Gila County Fair is this 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.
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; home making 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.
Admission to the arena events is $5 per car.
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.
Demolition Derby tops off fair weekend
The weekend at the Northern Gila County Fair will be topped off in the arena at noon (gates open at 11:30 a.m.) with the Demolition Derby. Admission is $10 for adults; $15 for those 13 to 4; with those 3 and younger admitted free of charge.
Hordes of spectators are expected to fill Payson Event Center at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 11 to cheer and applaud the craziness and zaniness that only can be enjoyed at a demolition derby. Town parks supervisor Nelson Beck, who helps host the event along with Jerry Honeycutt, is expecting 2,000-plus spectators for the fourth annual derby that will draw drivers from the Rim Country and around the state.
The demolition derby competitions begin with a warm-up event in which drivers battle one another to see which one can be the first one to drive over, and squash, a watermelon strategically placed in the middle of the arena.
Of course, the sponsors usually dole out prize money to the lucky watermelon destroyer. Prior to the melon-squashing events, the contestants make a grand entry to introduce their vehicles to the audience.
Those who have taken in past Payson derbies know they provide metal-crunching, bone-jarring, crashing, smashing action at its best. Derby rules vary from event to event, but the typical derby consists of 10 or more drivers competing by deliberately ramming their vehicles into one another.
The last driver whose vehicle still runs is declared the victor.
While all entries are not yet in, Beck and Honeycutt are expecting some of the local area drivers who have done well in the past to again show up.
Among them is Forrest Waggoner who last year took second in the trucks division losing to Valley driver Glenn Madden in the hotly contested finals. Also in the truck division Dion Lloyd was third.
In the cars division, Brett Carnes and Casey Bramlett entered and while neither finished in the top three the two were very competitive.
While the cars division will again be a big part of the derby, Beck expects the trucks to be a big draw among the local drivers and a crowd favorite as well.
Last year, it attracted nine trucks, the most in the history of the derby. Among the local drivers who have enjoyed success in the division are Dan and Rob Shover of Coyote Auto.
“Dan has said he will probably enter a couple of trucks,” Beck said.
This year, the trucks division will see an increase in added money from $750 to $1,000, or the same as the cars division.
The added money is put in a pool with entry fees and then divided among the three top drivers in each of the division.
The winner, receives 50 percent of the pot, the second place finisher pockets 30 percent and 20 percent is given to the third place driver.
Last year, an impromptu bumper-to-bumper truck “tug-o-war” was so much a crowd favorite that Beck and Honeycutt have decided to hold it again.
“It’s not open to the public (participation), it’s a type of sideshow for the spectators,” said Beck. Copies of the rules regulations and entry forms for the Payson derby are available at the parks and recreation offices located at Green Valley Park or online at: www.paysonrimcountry.com.