Rodeo In Rim Country Means ...

Mutton bustin’ and its young adventurers is the most entertaining event at every performance of Payson’s World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo.

Mutton bustin’ and its young adventurers is the most entertaining event at every performance of Payson’s World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo.


In country music artist Garth Brooks’ “Rodeo” world — it was cowboy hats, spurs and latigo.

But here in our Rim Country August Doin’s Rodeo week, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. It’s the 129th World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo, a rodeo that has grown from its modest beginning back in 1884 to become the Wild West spectacle that it is today.

It’s the 9 a.m. parade up Main Street, the annual saloon hall girls in their mobile jail, “arresting” those not wearing cowboy duds, and two-steppin’ at the street dances ’til all hours of the night.

It’s all of our Payson hotels filled to capacity and visitors from all over the world sitting in amazement as they watch their first calf roping and bucking bronc event.

For me, the highlight of the August Doin’s weekend has always been the mutton bustin’ event, held at the mid-point of each rodeo session, open to little buckaroos, ages 4 to 7, both boys and girls. Ten courageous youngins per session compete for a trophy and cowboy boots by seeing who can remain atop a galloping sheep the longest, while riding bareback and nothing to hold onto but a hope and a prayer.

“All of the young cowboys and cowgirls who compete will be awarded belt buckles and a complimentary adult ticket to any rodeo session,” said Lynn Waters, the mutton bustin’ coordinator. “And for each child’s safety, helmets with face masks and protective vests will be provided and must be worn by each competitor.”

As of this writing, only the Sunday rodeo session had openings for more riders. For more details, please call Lynn at (928) 978-0990.

One of the mutton busters who will be competing in Saturday evening’s rodeo will be 5-year-old Nolan Keeney, who returns for his sophomore season of bustin’. A kindergartner in Mrs. Daniels’ class at Payson Elementary School, Nolan is the son of J.R. and Lani Keeney, a former mutton buster herself.

When I reminded Nolan of the two prizes at stake at this year’s event, he didn’t seem too concerned about new cowboy boots, but his eyes lit up like the night when he was told he had a chance to win a trophy. And when I asked him if there was a secret to sheep riding, he smiled and said, “The trick is in the squeeze.”

I’ll bet Nolan is going to do real well (and have a whole lot of fun) this Saturday night.

This week’s question

Mutton buster Nolan Keeney relayed to me that his favorite song is Johnny Cash’s 1963 hit “Ring of Fire.” The beginning lyrics to Cash’s Grammy Hall of Fame song are “Love is a burnin’ thing ...”

This week’s trivia question is: What are the lyrics that come next? Are they A) “and it makes my heart sing,” B) “and it makes a fiery ring,” C) “and it makes me wanna have a fling,” or D) “and it makes me feel like a king”?

Be the fifth caller with the right answer and you’ll win a pair of tickets (good for all ages) to either this Saturday or Sunday’s afternoon rodeo performances, compliments of the Payson Pro Rodeo committee. And when you’re at the rodeo, please be sure to give a rousing round of applause to Nolan and all the other mutton bustin’ riders.

Last week’s question

Last week’s question asked if you could name the country music artist who recorded retiring Payson physician Dr. Ivey’s all-time favorite song, “Four Walls,” which reached the top of the country Billboard chart in the spring of 1957.

In all, this country gentleman scored 43 Top 10 songs on the country charts, 11 of which went to No. 1, which included his popular hits “Mexican Joe,” “Bimbo,” “Distant Drums” and “He’ll Have to Go.”

The choices were: A) Johnny Cash, B) Hank Snow, C) Eddy Arnold, or D) Jim Reeves.

The correct answer was Jim Reeves. One has to wonder how monumental Reeves’ career would have become if he hadn’t perished in a Nashville plane crash in 1964, at the age of 40.

Congratulations to last week’s first-time music trivia winner, Donna Horning of Payson, who won a Greatest Hits of Jim Reeves CD.

Donna was born in the little farming town of Elmo, Mo. and raised in College Springs, Iowa, where she graduated from Amity High School in 1942. After graduating from Fenton Business College in Des Moines, Donna returned home, where she reconnected, in church, with Paul, an old high school friend. The two were married for 43 years, with two children and a pair of grandchildren.

In 1984, the Hornings moved from Overland, Kan. to Payson, where Donna worked for 10 years at the casino, before retiring at the age of 80.

Now, a very spry 89 years young, she enjoys reading and watching football. When I returned Donna’s trivia call, I interrupted her as she was watching an NFL preseason game. I asked if it was of her favorite team, to which she replied, “Oh, it really doesn’t matter what teams are playing, I just love the game. I watch as many games as I can.”

Donna’s favorite music genre is classic country. She puts Jim Reeves, Loretta Lynn and contemporary country singer Josh Turner at the top of her favorite artists list.

A final note

If you have called in, left your trivia answer on our answering machine and I haven’t gotten back with you, please excuse me. Sometimes I get very busy with music events on the weekends and I just don’t get around to getting back with everyone. But please know that I sincerely appreciate each and every one of your calls — and hope you’ll call in again.

Have a great rodeo week!

DJ Craig

(928) 468-1482

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