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 this weekend at the Payson Event Center.
The fair will be held at the PEC from Friday through Sunday, Sept. 9, 10 and 11. The fair opens to the public at 9 a.m., Friday, Sept. 9, the exhibits will close 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 4H 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 4H 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 4H members.
There will also be a variety of activities held in the arena at the Payson Event Center.
Among the special events planned for the fair are an archery shoot by the members of the new 4H 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.
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.; 4H/FFA livestock judging and show, 5 p.m.; 4H 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: 4H 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.
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, Sept. 11 with the Demolition Derby. Admission is $10 for adults; $15 for those 13 to 4; with those 3 and younger admitted free of charge.