More than $50,000 in cash and prizes, between 160 and 200 athletes, more than 200 head of livestock, plus a few tons of feed for the animals — add it up and it’s no wonder Payson’s World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo is one of the community’s biggest events.
The rodeo will celebrate is 128th anniversary this year, making it older than Arizona statehood. Still, the Payson Rodeo is an official part of the state’s centennial celebration — sanctioned by the Arizona Centennial Committee.
Appropriate to commemorating such an important milestone, the rodeo festivities will feature the U.S. Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard, the only remaining Mounted Color Guard in the Marine Corps, and Official State Historian Marshall Trimble.
Kicking things off in the Payson Event Center arena is the Cactus Women’s Professional Rodeo with barrel racing, team roping and breakaway roping at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 16, the gate opens at 5 p.m. and admission is a can of food for area food banks.
Another show starts at 7 p.m. Friday, with bull riding, team roping and the whole tough-as-nails assortment of professional rodeo events, which will include local cowboys.
Following the evening performances Friday and Saturday, organizers will throw a party at the dance free to folks with ticket stubs at the rodeo grounds under the beer garden tent. The dance will feature the music of the popular local band Junction 87.
Meanwhile, the historic Oxbow Saloon will also throw a party from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, although its not part of the official rodeo festivities.
On Saturday, the USMC Mounted Color Guard will lead the annual Rodeo Parade starting at 9 a.m., with Trimble serving as grand marshal. More than 40 entries will participate in the parade including rodeo royalty, the Payson High School marching band and several units from the El Zaribah Shrine organization of Phoenix. The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis of Zane Grey Country are sponsoring the parade this year, which will run from Green Valley Park east on Historic West Main Street to the Sawmill Crossing.
On Saturday, the professional rodeo cowboys will compete at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., then again at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19.
The four shows will all start with the opening and national anthem, then work through bareback riding, presentation of royalty, clown performance, steer wrestling, Cowgirl Historical Society, saddle bronc riding, national sponsor’s flag presentation, tie down (calf) roping, championship mutton bustin’, clown performance, Ram buckle presentation, barrel racing, bull riding and then a finale.
Professional rodeo athletes travel from all over to participate in the Payson Rodeo.
Rim Country competitors include barrel racers Whitney Alderson and Teri James; saddle bronc rider Jason Amon; and team roper TJ Brown. Contestants from neighboring communities include Brandon Bates, Winslow, steer wrestling; Dan Curtis, Show Low, bull riding; Linda Fagotti, Show Low, barrel racing; Daylan Frost, Show Low, team roping; Shon Gibson, Taylor, bareback riding; Wyatt Hancock, Taylor, bareback riding; and Jody Heisler, Snowflake, barrel racing.
Wyatt Althoff, one of the team ropers is from Oracle, but his grandparents, Ken and Nancy Althoff, and other family make their home here.
Gates open two hours prior to the performances. Friday is Tough Enough to Wear Pink night, which raises funds for local breast cancer support groups in conjunction with Wrangler’s Susan B. Komen program. Saturday afternoon is Arizona State University fan appreciation day with discounted admission with a coupon in a gift bag distributed at Camp Tontozona, where the Sun Devils will have a scrimmage earlier in the day.
Saturday evening is the Patriot Performance, honoring returning, fallen and wounded veterans with a special tribute during the rodeo. Sunday is Family Day, with half-price admission with a ticket stub from any previous August 2012 performance plus lots of giveaways from Coca-Cola.
Every performance will have a 50-50 drawing and prize giveaways. Tickets are available at the gate or online at www. paysonrimcountry.com/august doins.
Admission is $18 for adults; $16 for seniors 65 and older; and $10 for kids 8-12. For information, call (928) 474-9440 or go to www.paysonrimcountry.com/augustdoins.