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The Rim Country

Hashknife Pony Express
Neither rain, sleet, nor dark of night can stop the Hashknife Pony Express.
Each January/February for the last 61 years, the old west is brought to life as an elite group of riders thunder through Arizona stopping in Payson, Arizona.
Beginning in historic Holbrook, Arizona the horseback mail route covers over 200 miles from the majestic Mogollon Rim through the wilderness of the Mazatzal range to the desert city of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo
The Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo takes place each May. During its earliest years, Payson's Spring Rodeo was part of the National Old-Timers Rodeo Association, now known as the Senior Pro Rodeo Tour. In 1987 it became the Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo to honor the memory of the Payson native who died in 1987. Hardt was a well-known roper. He was recognized throughout the Southwest for his bull riding and roping talents.
Annual Payson Wildlife Fair
A carnival full of wildlife and hands-on outdoor activities for all that takes place in May at Green Valley Park in Payson, Arizona. The event is an annual cooperative event between the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Mogollon Sporting Association, US Forest Service, and Parks, Recreation & Tourism Department. Admission is FREE. Parents and kids can fish, play games, and get a close-up look at wildlife, including birds of prey, rattlesnakes, Gila monsters and alligators.
Mogollon Monster Mudda 5K Mud Run
Named the "Best Event in the State of Arizona" in 2016, the Mogollon Monster Mudda has become known in the OCR world as one of the best small-town mud runs in not only Arizona but the United States.It boasts over 40 natural and man-made obstacles on a 5k course.Each June articipants enjoy the cooler summer temperatures and beautiful mountain scenery.
Wild West Bass-Trail Weigh In
Come take in the "finale" of the Wild West Bass Tour here in Arizona each May. Join us at Green Valley Park for music, food vendors, and kid's fun. The anglers' catches will be weighed, and an Arizona State Champion will be crowned.
Payson Summer Concert Series
This concert series takes place on Saturday nights at Green Valley Park in Payson, Arizona throughout the months of July and August. This family event is free. Bring your family, a blanket and some treats and join in the fun as some of the best bands and musician's in Rim Country take the stage.
Green Valley Park Summer Concert Series
The Summer concert series is a free family event that takes place every Saturday in June and July from 7pm to 9pm at Green Valley Park.
Bring some chairs or a blanket and some snacks and join in the fun as some of the best bands and musician's in Rim Country take the stage.

Town of Payson Holiday Electric Light Parade
This is an annual event when Historic Main Street in Payson transforms into a magical holiday wonderland on the first Saturday of December. Rain or shine, watch the procession of floats, marching bands, music, and of course, Santa Claus himself!
Trunk or Treat – “Fall Festival”
The annual Trunk or Treat – “Fall Festival” event takes place around the end of October. This free family event provides entertainment and fun for all ages- kids and adults alike. Candy, photo booth, vendors, pumpkin carving contest, corn maze, free fun for all ages at the Payson Event Center.
Payson Fourth of July Celebration
Payson, Arizona comes alive in patriotic colors during its 4th of July Celebration at Green Valley Park. Payson is known for its beautiful weather in July and breathtaking sunsets.
The fireworks show and games are all FREE to the public.
The event features, great food vendors, bouncy houses, games, prizes, music, and beautiful scenery. Don't forget that Payson is generally 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix.

Payson Food Truck Festival
The Food Truck Festival takes place in early August at Green Valley Park. It features about 18 food trucks, live bands, dunk tank, and a kids’ zone.
ASU Camp Tontazona
Every August the Arizona State football team escapes the Phoenix heat and comes up to Payson to prepare for the new season. Set within the cool mountain country of Payson, Ariz., the Camp Tontazona borders the Tonto National Forest.
World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo and Parade
Payson, Arizona is where rodeo began. The first rodeo took place in Payson in 1884, and The World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo takes place annually in the 3rd week of August. The event still attracts some of the world’s greatest professional cowboys and cowgirls to compete for cash and prizes totaling in excess of $50,000 in prize money. Fearless bull riders, steer wrestlers, gorgeous bronc riders, specialty acts, and colorful clowns will keep you entertained and shouting for more.
The parade coincides with the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo taking place each August. Bring the kids, the family and come enjoy one of the oldest traditions in the State of Arizona - its the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo Parade. Be entertained by the APS Clowns, horseback riders, float designers, local businesses and much more.

Northern Gila County Fair
The Gila County Fair takes place in early September and features everything from farm animals to blue-ribbon pies. This year there will be live entertainment all day and through the evening, educational booths, food and fun for children of all ages. A gymkhana, livestock and small animals, agriculture, floriculture, handicrafts, lapidary, fine arts, photography, and many more exhibits will be on display.

Boulder Adventure 10k Trail Run
This event is held in October on the very scenic yet challenging Boulders Loop Trail off Phoenix St. in Payson, AZ. This is some of the most beautiful scenery in the Southwest. The area has huge outcroppings of large boulders that dot the landscape. Hence the name "Boulders Trail". The trail is steep in certain sections and has several shallow water crossings.
Tonto Community Concert Association
Since its inception in 1978, the Tonto Community Concert Association (TCCA) has brought world-class entertainment to Rim Country through an annual concert series.
The goal is to provide culturally-enriching opportunities to Payson residents and surrounding communities, as well as to support fine art education within the Payson educational system.
While only two concerts were offered when TCCA first began, the current season consists of eight offerings. It is always a very eclectic line-up from Broadway to Classical, from Country to Comedy – and much, much more!

Annual Turkey Trot 5K/ 1 Mile Walk/ Run
Gather the family and come on down to Green Valley Park to enjoy a brisk morning with beautiful views, friendly neighbors, and tons of fun at the annual Turkey Trot 5k and 1 Mile Walk!
New to this year's race is the option to participate in EITHER the 5k walk/run OR the 1 Mile walk/run! Whichever you choose, we know you'll have a great time!

Old Time Fiddle and Acoustic Celebration
For nearly 50 years, Arizona musicians of all ages have gathered in Payson, Arizona on a late September weekend to celebrate music and delight spectators with their talent.
Beeline Cruise-in Car Show
The Annual Beeline Cruise-In Car Show takes place in October at the beautiful Green Valley Park off Old Main Street.
Friday activities at Green Valley Park are geared for the car show entrants, club members and sponsors, and include car registration, a cruise around town, returning to the park for an evening BBQ and entertainment with music, stories of old Payson and dancing.

World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo Payson, Arizona                 
For over 135 years the Payson Rodeo Celebration has continued.  Getting its start in 1884, it is considered the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo.  The Rodeo takes place in Payson, Arizona every August for three days and remains one of the best small town rodeos in the world.
Events include
  • Bareback Riding
  • Saddle Bronc Riding
  • Bull Riding
  • Steer Wrestling
  • Tie Down Roping
  • Barrel Racing
  • Mutton Busting
Rodeo Parade
The Payson Rodeo also puts on The World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo Parade on the Saturday morning during the event. The parade is one of the oldest traditions in the State of Arizona and provides entertainment for the whole family.
Boots and Bling Dance.        
The Annual Payson Boots and Bling Pro Rodeo Dance takes place on both Friday and Saturday night after the evening rodeo events. 
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History of the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo
Historic Payson, Arizona Rodeo
Rodeo Founders
The first Payson Rodeo took place on the third weekend of August in 1884 and was organized by “Arizona Charlie” Meadows and John Collins Chilson, both of whom moved to Rim Country from California.  The rodeo took place at the intersection of Highway 87 and Old Main, which is now the site of the Sawmill Crossing.  The Rodeo was a contest among neighbors with ranchers and cowboys gathering to see how their roping and riding abilities stacked up along with the speed of their horses stacked up.                                                                
Early Events
Bronc riding, roping events, horse racing, and silver-dollar pitching comprised the first rodeo.   Events like greased pig contests, cock-fights, sack- races, and foot races became part of the early rodeos.  A “chicken pulling” contest was an unusual early event.  A chicken was buried in the street with only it neck and head sticking out, The cowboy would ride his horse at a full gallop, lean down and pull the chicken from the dirt, and then return to receive a race time.
Early Bronc Rider                                 
Early Bronc Riding
There were no bronc riding chutes available in the early days of Payson rodeo. The broncs were brought to the middle of the street and eared down by a couple of cowboys.  Someone cinched a rig onto the horse’s back and the bronc rider (twister) climbed on.  Bronc riding was not a timed event when rodeo first started in Payson.  The twister rode the horse until the horse's head came up or the rider was thrown.  Bronc riders generally brought their own broncs to the early Payson rodeos.  Twister would then ride their own broncs as well as the other competitors broncs to keep things fair.
Early Bull Rider
During the Payson street rodeos of the early 1920s bronc riders began testing their skills bronc riding skills on the local Durham cattle.  Payson rodeo did not have Brahma stock until 1950 when Rodeo stock contractors began bringing them to Payson.  Cowboys used anything that could buck including cows, bareback horses, wild steers, bulls, and bareback horses.  Some early cowboys attempted to put their saddles on bulls but this type of bronc riding was short lived because the saddles would turn on the loose-skinned bulls. 
Horse Racing and the World's Oldest Continuous Rodeo
Even before the beginning of the Payson rodeo, local cowboys raced their horses to see who had the fastest. When the rodeo celebrations began in 1884, horse racing became a big part of the early rodeos.  The earliest rodeos had cow races but soon cowboys brought Thoroughbreds and horse races became premier events at the rodeo celebration. 
Historic Main Street                                  
The Rodeo Moves to Main Street
 The first rodeo and early rodeos after that took place in the Midtown Meadow.  Eventually the annual event was moved down to Main Street.  The center of town became a rodeo grounds.  Temporary corals and chutes were erected and the streets were lined with wagons and spectators.