Once again, some amazing western writers will saddle up and head for the Payson Book Festival July 20 at the Mazatzal Casino.

Dee Strickland Johnson

Buckshot Dot, also known as Dee Strickland Johnson, is an Arizona Culturekeeper and “as Arizona as sagebrush, saguaro, and stone logs.” Born in Flagstaff, Dot grew up on the Navajo and Hualapai reservations and at Petrified Forest National Monument.

Later she and her husband “Ol’ Buck” operated a cattle ranch in the Arkansas Ozarks in the 1970s.

Dot has written and illustrated several award-winning books. “Arizona Women: Weird, Wild, and Wonderful” was awarded the Western Music Association’s Cowboy Poetry Book of the Year. A third edition will be available at the Payson Book Festival.

As one of Arizona’s great cowboy singers and poets, Dot was awarded the title of Female Cowboy Poet of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists, and her song, “Old Hank Morgan’s Place” was a finalist for AWA’s Cowboy Song of the Year.

Dot’s ability to hold audiences spellbound could well go back to her experience as a teacher of American history. Incorporating poetry, songs, and costumes of the period made both the teaching and learning exciting and fun.

When asked, “A history book in verse?” Dot replied, “Why not?” So, that’s what she did in her book, “Arizona Herstory.”

Dot’s latest projects include the writing of a children’s book called “The Mystery of Little Nepo” and Woodland Fairy Poems.

“Buckshot Dot,” says State Historian Marshall Trimble, “is one of the most gifted and talented performers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.”

Marshall Trimble

Trimble himself is a noted historian, author, folksinger and humorist and has been called the “Will Rogers of Arizona.” He was born in Mesa. Grew up in Ash Fork, a small railroad town along old Route 66, and now makes his home in Scottsdale.

“Ask the average Arizonan to name an Arizona historian,” states Arizona writer Dean Smith, “and he’s most likely to reply, Marshall Trimble. Then ask them to name a cowboy singer, humorist, or a storyteller and they’ll still reply, Marshall Trimble.”

After 40 years of teaching Arizona history at Scottsdale Community College, Trimble said of his retirement in 2014, “The newspapers and social media have written and said a lot about my retirement. It’s true, I did retire, but I haven’t missed a day of work since.”

The Arizona Republic calls him the state’s “most recognizable goodwill ambassador,” appearing on radio, TV and documentaries. He has won numerous honors and awards, and was inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. His latest book is “Arizona Oddities — Land of Anomalies & Tamales.” The author of 22 books on Arizona and the West, Trimble answers questions about the Old West from readers all over the world in his popular True West Magazine column, “Ask the Marshall.”

Trimble is also one of the July 20 Payson Book Fest’s featured western authors.

Bob Boze Bell

Another strong western writer is Bob Boze Bell, executive editor and co-owner of True West Magazine published in Cave Creek. He joins Buckshot Dot and Trimble as one of the festival’s featured western authors.

Bell is the author of a dozen personally illustrated, groundbreaking books on the history of the West. His subjects include Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday, along with a compilation of Classic Gunfights, Volume III. In addition to his efforts for True West, Bell’s work has appeared in Arizona Highways, Playboy and National Lampoon. His artwork is featured on numerous book covers, and he appears often on the History Channel, Discovery Channel and the Westerns Channel.

Bell is bringing some of his best writers and authors to the Payson Book Festival this year.

You won’t want to miss any of these writers and all the others participating in the Fifth Annual Payson Book Festival from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, July 20 at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino ballroom.

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