In Arizona’s Rim country, wildlife sightings come with the territory. Elk sometimes trample campsites, chipmunks creep into open grocery bags, giant birds call out from lofty pine-tree perches.
Learn more about these and other Mogollon marauders during the 10th annual Payson Wildlife Fair 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Green Valley Park, when the 40-acre park’s grassy expanses will give way to a free carnival full of wildlife-themed activities.
"We want to make this event a special time for families to spend together, enjoying the best of the outdoors," said event organizer Randall Babb.
The park’s lake will be double-stocked with trout, and attendees don’t need a fishing license to try to hook dinner. Equipment and bait are available free at the fair’s fishing booth.
Visitors can test their skills at casting booths or shooting and fishing galleries. There are also plenty of opportunities to get to know wild animals up close.
"A golden eagle is just one of the many new attractions we have this year," said Mary Gilbert of the U.S. Forest Service. "You’ve got to see this bird. It’s magnificent."
Rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, prairie dogs and other birds of prey will also be on display.
A variety of conservation groups, including the Arizona Elk Society, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation and Arizona Wildlife Federation, will offer educational activities and information.
The park also features picnic ramadas, more than a mile of wandering sidewalk paths, a children’s playground and restrooms.
For more information, call (480) 981-9400.
Payson is about 90 minutes north of the East Valley. In Mesa, take Country Club Drive north until it becomes state Highway 87, and follow about 77 miles. In Payson, turn left onto West Airport Road. After two miles, make a left onto North Vista Road. Follow one mile, then turn left onto West Country Club Drive. Green Valley Park is at 1000 W. Country Club Drive.