It’s Time for the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo 2022 in Payson, Arizona!
The World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo is almost here, and you don’t want to miss it! The Payson Pro Rodeo, located in Payson, Arizona, touts many accolades and has the unique honor of being one of the best small-town rodeos. It all kicks off on August 16th with the official rodeo steak fry and the actual rodeo performances running from August 18th through August 20th.
This is definitely not Payson Pro Rodeo’s first one. In fact, this rodeo has been running continuously for over 130 years and was around when rodeo looked a whole lot different from what we see now. The third week of August is the traditional date and has been since 1884 when the original organizers “Arizona Charlie” Meadows and John Collins Chilson put out the word of the first-ever Pay Rodeo. Marketing in those times was word of mouth, and the news spread like wildfire from ranch to ranch. Roping and bronc riding stood the test of time, but some events that didn’t make the mark included cock fights, greased pig contests, sack races, and foot races.
Bronc riding was a true test of a cowboy’s skill, and with no chutes in sight, the bronc was led out, eared by another cowboy as the gear was put on, and then the twister (what we would now call the bronc rider) jumped on. His goal was to get the animal’s head up, and the ride didn’t end until that point unless he fell off first.
While some sources say the first official rodeo wasn’t until 1888, the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee, Inc. holds fast to the 1884 date, backed by many rodeo legends, Payson heritage keepers, and oral histories. With the first rodeo in Midtown Pasture, the Main Street Rodeos didn’t start until 1885. Naysayers point to the first four rodeos not being organized and try to say cowboys only competed in roping events. Still, without organization, the cowboys and spectators wouldn’t have known where and when to meet, and there were many more events than just roping.
Flash forward to 2022 with an exciting schedule of events kicking off on Tuesday, August 16th. This is the night for the official rodeo kickoff steak fry and dance with a concert featuring Tyler Gumersall. Doors open at 5:30 pm, with the event starting at 6 pm.
Then it’s time to rest up, but we’ll see you back at the Payson Event Center on August 18th at 5 pm for the “Women’s Cactus Series Barrel Racing.” The barrel racing starts at 6 pm, and the price of admission is a can of food. Vendors, food, and adult beverages are on site and will be ready for you to purchase.
Friday, August 19th, is the kickoff to the pro rodeo competition and the “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night, so make sure you wear something pink to show your support for breast cancer awareness. The gates open at 5 pm, with all the action kicking off at 7 pm. All proceeds from this evening’s performance benefit local breast cancer awareness programs. Don’t miss out on the Official Payson Pro Rodeo Boots and Bling Dance following the rodeo at the Payson Event Center. Western Fusion will be burning up the stage so you can burn up the dance floor. This is free if you attended the rodeo, but if you just want to come for the dance, there is a $5 cover charge.
While Saturday, August 20th, might be the last night of the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo, it certainly doesn’t lack any excitement! During the day, the Coca-Cola Family Day includes its own performance and lots of giveaways. Gates open at 11 am, and the performance starts at 1 pm. The evening performance is all about the red, white, and blue and honors all of our United States of America Patriots. If you are an active military member, you receive free admission as a small way to say thanks for your service. Don’t forget to wear Old Glories colors. Gates open at 5 pm and the performance starts at 7 pm. Stick around for another party and head over to the Official Payson Pro Rodeo Boots and Bling Dance after the performance.
Where the past feels like it lives alongside the present, the Payson Pro Rodeo keeps the history of rodeo alive. Put the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo on your calendar and become a part of history.