Writer Sue Kern-Fleischer Photography Courtesy of Cave Creek Rodeo Days n some ways, Mandi Holland has been waiting for this moment her whole life....
There’s a sense of romance about the rodeo—not in the starry-eyed storybook kind of way, but in the idea of taming the wild in bulls, broncs and cowboys.
No one could have predicted it 133 years ago, but Payson Pro Rodeo has since become the world’s oldest continuous rodeo. Not that it would have made any difference to its earliest contestants. The cowboys and ranch hands took pride in their skills and horses, and saw the rodeo as their chance to strut their stuff in the town square. It was how they had fun in the gap between spring and fall roundups at the ranch, and the entire town joined them.
Hay and dust blanket the arena. The smell of animals fills the nostrils. The noise progressively increases as the excited spectators find a seat.