All you Wannabee Cowboys, Cowgirls and your  families who are  interested in Arizona Rodeo should head for Payson,  from  May 15 -16 2009.

Payson, known as a Mountain Town With A Western Heritage, is 90 miles North of Phoenix and 90 miles South of Flagstaff. This is where rodeos began and the town has been associated with such competitions for 125 years. Rodeos were first held to provide cowhands with a place to meet and compare roping skills and cow ponies prior to the big Fall roundup.

The first event for 2009 is The Gary Hardt Memorial Spring Rodeo, to honour the memory of a Payson citizen who died in 1987. Hardt was a well known competitor, known throughout the Southwest for his bull roping and other roping talents. His career started in 1963 at The World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo in Payson ( held annually in August)


On May 15-16 The Spring Rodeo includes traditional competitions such as Bareback and Saddle Bronco Riding plus timed events comprising Tie Down Roping, Team Roping, Steer Wrestling together with Barrel Racing and Bull Riding. These are supported by traditional Clown Acts and entertainment.

For the uninitiated, we include an explanation of these great rodeo events.


Originally based on the horse breaking skills of the working cowboy, the rider attempts to stay on the horse for 8 seconds without touching the animal with his free hand. In saddle bronco, the rider uses a special saddle with free stirrups and no horn. He grips a simple rein attached to a halter. In bareback, the rider has no saddle or rein, using one hand to grip rigging attached to the horse’s body


From a standing start the rider chases the pre-released calf and throws a lariat around the calf’s neck. He dismounts, picks up the calf and flips it onto its side. He then ties three of its legs with a short rope and the clock is stopped. The animal must remain  immobilised for six seconds before the time is recorded. The world record is 6+ seconds.


This features a steer and two mounted cowboys or cowgirls and is the only rodeo event where men and women compete equally together. The Header must rope the steer around head and/or horns and then makes a Dally which is a couple of turns around the horn of his saddle. The Heeler then throws a loop around the running steer’s legs and both horses back up immobilising the steer. A professional team will take 4-12 seconds to stretch the animal.


A mounted rider chases a steer, dismounts and wrestles the animal to the ground. Once all four legs are off the ground the time is recorded. Steers usually weigh 450-650 lbs and professional times are in the range of 3.5-10 seconds.


This involves a rider attempting to stay on a large bull for 8 seconds holding a long, braided rope. It has been described as The Most Dangerous 8 Seconds in Sport


Here horse and rider attempt to complete a cloverleaf pattern around three 55 gallon barrels in the fastest time. It is essentially a rodeo event for the cowgirls.

Clowns appear at all these competitions, their job being to distract animals when riders have dismounted or fallen.

On May 16 you can also take in The Payson Aero Fair. Prior to the show at 7.30am you can enjoy  The Payson Pilot’s Association, Pancake Breakfast. This show is fun for all the family with new, classic and vintage aeroplane displays, antique cars and tractors and a host of Food and Craft Vendors.

Whether you are a keen rodeo enthusiast or a tourist, enjoy your Spring visit to Payson the home of Arizona Rodeo.