September send-off

Incidental Bluegrass, a local group, will appear at the Saturday, Sept. 29 Michael Martin Murphey concert that is part of the annual Payson Old Time Fiddle Festival.

September is coming to a loud, rowdy, fun close this weekend. There will be three days of music, a barbecue contest, free fly fishing lessons, an introduction to skeet shooting for youngsters, a reunion for all graduates from Payson High School and the annual celebration of Gila County pioneers with a dinner and dance.

Payson Old Time Opry and Fiddle Fest

The Payson Old Time Opry and Fiddle Fest make for a musical weekend, Friday, Sept. 28 through Sunday, Sept. 30.

The weekend opens with the Payson Old Time Opry at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28 at the PHS Auditorium, doors open at 5:30 p.m. Admission is $10 per person. The featured artist for the evening is Purple Hulls.

Preliminaries to find the state’s next fiddle champion are all day Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Payson Event Center. Admission is $5 per person, with children 12 and under admitted at no charge.

An awards ceremony, where the finalists for the state championship round will be named, along with the Masters “Hot Bow” and band competitions follow the day’s contests.

A dinner concert at the event with Copper Wren takes place from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $10 and guests should bring their own chairs. Those who don’t want to eat, can attend the concert for $5.

Nationally known recording artist Michael Martin Murphey — best know for the song “Wildfire” — will appear in a special concert at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Payson High School Auditorium, doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Appearing with Murphey is the local band, Incidental Bluegrass.

Tickets to the Saturday night show are $20 per person purchased in advance and $30 at the door. Get tickets at the Payson Parks and Recreation office, 1000 W. Country Club in Green Valley Park.

State champion fiddling starts at 11 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 30 at the event center. Admission is $5 per person. Preceding the contest a gospel program is planned at 9 a.m. Gates open at 8:30 a.m.

Weekend passes, providing admittance to all events, are $40 per person. To learn more, go to the parks office, 1000 W. Country Club, Payson in Green Valley Park or online to

All alumni Payson High reunion

Payson High School Class of 1968 is combining its 50th class reunion with all PHS graduates.

The events include: a “no host” happy hour at the Oxbow Inn & Saloon at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28 and Steve Mercer and the Renegade Band will be performing, RSVP Charlene Creach Brown, either on Facebook or at 928-951-5624; at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 29 will be the Class of 1968 Veterans Flag Exchange at the Mazatzal Casino, this year, Richard Saccuci will be presenting the Veterans Reunion flag to Steve Mercer; at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Tonto Apache Tribe Recreation Center gym the Gila County Pioneer Dinner and Dance takes place, admission is $10 per person; at 9 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 30 is a “Farewell until our 60th” breakfast at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino.

Free fly fishing class and gear sale

Want to learn how to fly fish? Join the Payson Flycasters Club and Gila Trout Chapter of Trout Unlimited at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 29 at Tiny’s Restaurant, 600 E. Highway 260, for the business meeting and free fly fishing class beginning at 10 a.m.

There is loaner gear if needed. Class begins with an orientation to equipment and information on techniques, selecting flies.

At 12:30 p.m. there will be a break for lunch and to reconvene at Green Valley Park for fly casting lessons and practice.

You must pre-register by emailing"> and tell us you want to come, whether you need to borrow a rod and reel, and whether you are right or left handed.

Class is limited to the first 12 people who sign up. The deadline to register is Thursday, Sept. 27.

There will also be a sale of fly fishing gear.

The Annual Fly Fishing Gear Sale proceeds go to support the group’s after-school elementary and middle school fly fishing programs.

The Payson Flycasters and Gila Trout Chapter of Trout Unlimited also support Project Healing Waters, with events in Payson for disabled veterans.

Email for more information or go to

Shotgun Range has Kids Open House

Youngsters ages 9 through high school are invited, with their parent(s) to an open house at the Shotgun Range in Rye at 10 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, for an opportunity to try clay target shooting, hosted by the Bird Busters of Payson.

The program includes a presentation and demonstration on the sport of trap shooting and those young people interested will get safety orientation and be coached and supervised by range officials.

Shotguns, ammunition, hearing and eye protection will all be provided to the youngsters at no cost.

Register early by contacting Richard Kruse at 701-403-9242.

The range is 13 miles south of Payson just off Highway 87 in Rye. Turn right at mile marker 240; the range is just behind Matlock Gas.

Learn more online at

Big time barbecue

at Mazatzal casino

Top names in national barbecue competitions are expected at the Mazatzal Hotel & Casino Saturday, Sept. 29 at its annual Mazatzal Grill Masters BBQ Competition & Testicle Festival.

Gates open at 10 a.m.; BBQ judging begins at noon; and the BBQ awards ceremony is at 3:30 p.m.

Full event information available at

Pioneer Dinner

and Dance

The annual Gila County Pioneer Dinner and Dance starts at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Tonto Apache Tribe Recreation Center. It will continue through the evening with an old-fashioned barbecue dinner to celebrate the pioneers of Gila County.

There will be a raffle and auction with a full pig, a full beef and some great guns offered in the raffle, plus homemade desserts for the auction.

Following the raffle and auction, there will be live music and dancing.

Admission is $10 per person, with those 5 and under free.

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