I have been hearing for a couple of weeks now that the Range Call is great once, good the second time and pretty boring after 20 years. That may well be, and I was nearly convinced by Meeker-area regulars that it is really fairly boring for them and that I wouldn’t suffer a bit by missing it — if I wasn’t editor of the paper and had to cover it.
What they say may be true. I don’t know; I haven’t been a part of it for 20 years, but I do have the fresh perspective of someone who has taken in just about every event of the weekend for the first time.
Without being specific, I can say without doubt, that the entire event was highly, highly impressive to a first-time viewer and participant.
The four-day event started off well with a run and a pancake breakfast, the parade was a lot of fun. There were entries of all levels and kinds, but that is what makes a small town parade so fun.
In Arizona, where I moved from four months ago, a parade in the city of about 45,000 people was lucky to last at least 45 minutes and that was only because of the huge spaces between entries — much longer than here.
After the parade was the dedication of the Rio Blanco County Veterans Memorial. Several hundred people gathered on the courthouse lawn to watch the statue of “Sacrifice and Resolution” be uncovered, and, admit it or not, it was an inspirational and emotional moment for many there.
Meeker resident John Kobald’s statue is a beautiful, appropriate memorial to all who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces from this county — in times of war and peace — and the face, which one can see on the front page of today’s Herald Times, is a masterful piece of art in its own.
Rio Blanco County, the Meeker and Rangely VFWs who conceived of it and sculptor Kobald can all be proud. It is an amazing piece of art in a beautiful setting, constructed by mostly volunteers, and it will long stand in memory of all those who have served and who will serve in the future.
The music, fun and family, as well as the barbecue served on the lawn were all well run, fun, interesting and pretty tasty. From the root beer floats by the Rio Blanco County Historical Society to the off-highway vehicle club display to the water slide, to the many informational booths, there was plenty to keep locals and visitors busy. It also afforded few moments for a nap after taking part in the wide variety of foods available and fun activities to join in.
It was hot and humid, but it was fun to watch the 3-on-3 basketball tournament and the bank robbery, as re-enactments like that can give us a good idea of what took place well over a century ago on the streets of Meeker.
A demolition derby is always fun, and that followed an entertaining demonstration by the Rangely rock-climbing group demonstrating what a four-wheel-drive vehicle is really capable of doing. When I was small, I was able to do some jeeping of a similar difficulty and had the time of my life — never forgetting the experience of being scared to death, then feeling relief like I had never known at that age.
The fireworks display was particularly impressive for a town of this size. One could not have viewed the display from a better spot than in the park, sitting with friends and watching an impressive display. The weather was cool, there wasn’t a whole lot of breeze and the rains held off until about 60 seconds after the grand finale — which was very impressive — and a majority of viewers were already in their cars.
Not to let one get off easy and go home after a tough day, the barn dance at the fairgrounds kept the young and young at heart dancing and having a lot of fun until 1 a.m.
And that was just the Thursday events.
When I was in college at Mesa College, my favorite class as a Colorado native was Colorado History. We covered everything from the Ute Indians to cannibal Alfred Packer of Lake City (the topic of my term paper at Mesa and the namesake for the raw cheeseburger I have eaten at the Alfred Packer Grill on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus.) We studied the Anasazi at Mesa Verde, Camp Hale’s training grounds for the 10th Mountain Division during World War II, the silver and gold mining towns of Aspen, Cripple Creek and Victor.
We studied the decimation of the range buffalo, the formation of the Great Sand Dunes near Alamosa, studied how members of the 10th Mountain Division returned to Colorado after World War II and founded what became the winter mega-resorts of Aspen, Vail, Crested Butte and Steamboat Springs.
And yes, we studied the Meeker Massacre.
I understand the pageant has changed quite a bit since the Utes were invited into the picture and helped set straight a few facts.
But as a native of this state and a person who has delved deeply into state history, I can say that as a first-timer I was more than impressed with the production I saw.
I am very happy that Meeker has the town named after him. It is now a good place for me to call home.
But Meeker won’t go down in history books as one of the kindest, most understanding and congenial of all folks who passed this way.
But that is neither here nor there. The pageant was excellently presented, incredibly informative as there were many small tidbits of info I had never heard before, and there was no question it happens each year due to a whole lot of work on the part of just a few people.
Great job folks. I was impressed and I heard several other people who were from outside Colorado and Rio Blanco County say they were impressed. I hope to see more of the young people from this community of Meeker become involved with the pageant. It is worth keeping!
Saturday again kept this ol’ boy moving and active. The day started with the Milk Creek Battle Site tours and the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association roping slack, followed up with the morning with the interactive Twang and Bang Tournament put on by the Meeker Sportsmen’s Club.
Saturday afternoon offered the impressive CPRA Rodeo. As a member of the 30-member Kingsmen in Arizona, which each September puts on the PRCA-sanctioned two-day Andy Devine Days Rodeo, I must say the action was fast and furious and most enjoyable — the way a rodeo should be.
The evening was filled with dancing and music — featuring opening group Last Men on Earth (LMOE) and headlined by Gloriana. Both groups did an excellent job and I am certain we will all be hearing more and more from these groups in the future. Remember, performers like Reba McIntyre and Barbara Mandrell and whole slew of major country stars had their beginnings at small county fairs and events such as this. Good music for all!
Thankfully, for those of us who were dragging from a tough four-day schedule and many miles on our feet, activities on Sunday wrapped up the weekend of fun — but with equal enthusiasm and enjoyment.
Late morning saw the start of the ranch rodeo, and several of those taking part had familiar names and faces. The event was seemingly like the Old West, when it didn’t take a hundred cowboys to put on a rodeo — but a few game ranch hands and ranching families from surrounding ranches. Any time you bring the kids on to join the fun, you have a formula for success as many of us can still remember what it was like to be a young kids again and do all those crazy things our bones are much too old for now.
The wrap-up came with the Jump for Jesus event at the fairgrounds. When I first heard of it, I had no idea what this was going to be about — although I would admit to having maybe a negative outlook on it.
When I saw what it was during the parade on Thursday and did a bit of reading on the act, it sounded like it might be fun. I have a love/hate relationship with motorcycles due to good memories of when I had a Honda 150 as a teenager and bad memories as I have lost a couple of very good friends to motorcycle accidents.
However, I was also very intrigued with Evel Knievel when growing up and even went to Idaho to watch his motorcycle jump over the Snake River Canyon near Ketchum; and I watched Rob Knievel break a few bones while jumping over the Grand Canyon in my home county when I lived at Kingman. So, Jump for Jesus piqued my interest; I was just unable to get there due to working on this week’s edition of the newspaper.
Needless to say, I am pooped. The heat and humidity and the wide variety of activities starting early and ending late have me feeling my years. I am no longer a teenager by a long ways, but I believe I would have been challenged as a teen to get in on everything that took place this past weekend.
Thank you to all who helped put on the fun and activities. My guess is that there are few households within Meeker or the surrounding area that didn’t have at least one person taking part in making this a great, fun weekend.
Meeker and its many helpers from the Recreation District and the volunteers from a wide variety of groups such as 4-H and the historic groups, all played a key role in the success of the weekend. And certainly it wouldn’t have been a success without the businesses and sponsors that all help to make Meeker what Meeker is.
It was truly a great time for this first-comer, who is now looking forward to next year’s event.
A personal thanks to those at the Twang and Bang, put on by the Meeker Sportsman’s Club. They got me involved, and I was able to shoot a .357 Magnum Colt Python at a small target and a 20-gauge shotgun at some clay pigeons or skeet.
For those who want to know, and I was reluctant to shoot because I hadn’t shot either one in more than a decade, I put two out of three into the six-inch circle from 25 yards with the Python and was just a bit high with the third, and I shot one out of four skeet using a 20-gauge shotgun, which I had never shot one of before. I was used to my 12-gauge Remington Wingmaster, so I probably didn’t lead the skeet by enough. Oh well. But thanks, members of the club and the CPW workers, who joined to lend a hand and made sure everything and everyone was safe.