We are already excited to head back up the hill for the World’s Oldest, Continuous Rodeo in Payson next month (August 19-20). While we love making a weekend out of it, it’s also the perfect day trip itinerary if you’re looking for a shorter time up in Payson.
For those new to rodeos with kids, be sure to check out our full rodeo guide for families.
Get on the road early
Watch the parade
The parade is a patriotic, equestrian-centric show with lots of small town floats from the schools, civic groups, etc.
They haven’t posted what time the parade starts, but it’s typically around 9 a.m.
Last year we doddled loading up the car and literally got to the parade as the pooper scoopers were cleaning up the route after the last horse had gone by…lol, so lesson learned this year to get there early.
Bring chairs, wagons, blankets and even umbrellas from the sun to make your spot as comfortable as possible (and sunblock, it’s still warm up there and very sunny.)
Remember that Payson is a small town, so parking is a bit tricky. As long as you arrive with ample time to drive around for parking and walk a bit to the parade route, you’ll be fine, but just be forewarned.
Payson has a lot of chain restaurants on the main street through town, but our favorite is a local spot tucked off Main Street called Macky’s Grill.
It’s a cowboy-themed burger joint that my family has been coming to since they opened in 1997, and it’s fun to now bring Mav here.
Reasons we love it: casual vibe, beer and wine menu, good kid’s menu, plus a dog-friendly patio. There’s also ample parking.
Another mainstay of my childhood Payson adventures I’m passing onto Mav: the playgrounds at Rumsey Park.
Although the actual play equipment has been updated since my childhood (anyone else remember the HUGE metal rocketship that seemed like it was so high it touched the clouds?), it’s still an incredible 82-acre municipal park.
In addition to two playgrounds, Rumsey Park also offers: a skae park, dog park, horse shoe pits, disc golf course, 6 ramadas, 6 pickleball courts, 2 sand volleyball courts, 2 basketball courts, and so much more. Plus, the public library is here, too!
First, if your kids are between 4-7 years old (and under 75 pounds), be sure to sign them up before rodeo weekend for mutton bustin (signup details here).
There’s daytime (1 p.m.) or evening (7 p.m.) performances, so you have a few options on how long of a day you’re planning.For us (Mav still naps from 1-3 p.m. daily), we’ve learned over many rodeos that he does best having a late night at the evening performance after a solid nap. (Mom tip: it gets colder than I expect every time we are at an evening performance; I’ve bout a lot of $40 rodeo blankets over the years, so if you don’t want a souvineer Western blanket, bring one!)
We typically prefer to eat our main meal prior to arriving at the grounds so that we can enjoy fair treats without worrying about full meals.
With general admission, you’ll want to arrive before the show starts for best seats, and also to shop the vendor booths.
We usually still bring a stroller in for navigating around the grounds, but they aren’t allowed in the grandstands, FYI.
If you’re departing right after the rodeo to head home, there is a Sonic and a gas station across the street from the fairgrounds for a final caffeine boost before driving back down the hill.