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Payson goes wild

Game and Fish, outdoor groups, a close-mouthed alligator and a long-bodied boa delight children

The confident 8-year-old sat beside the phlegmatic tape-jawed alligator, summoning his bravado. His little sister with the face of an angel drawn up in a perfect “O” of amazement drew back from the enormous reptile. The boy saw his chance. Affecting nonchalance, the boy patted the long-suffering alligator on the snout and his sister’s eyes widened to full-moon splendor. “It’s OK,” said the brave lad. “You can touch him. He’s afraid of me.” Such vignettes played out all day long Saturday at the Payson Wildlife Fair, which brimmed with enough giant boa constrictors, fierce-eyed golden eagles, tongue-flicking monitor lizards, sharp-eyed peregrine falcons, ponderous giant tortoises, jaw-taped alligators and poached deer and elk to made any 8-year-old dance with excitement. Hundreds of families wandered through the banquet of booths set up on a perfect spring day in Green Valley Park.

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