MEEKER I “The Pageant” in Meeker during the Fourth of July weekend kicked off in 1938.
There are participants who have participated for 50 years and now second and third generations are taking over the roles of their predecessors.
For example Kay Bivens and Phyllis Lake have been doing the makeup for many years as well as participating in the actual show.
Patty Anderson has been an Indian mom for what could be a record number of years, and Mary Whalin was in the show providing the best snacks for the kids.
The Coryell family has represented the “Escalante Party” for long enough to include their third generation participants.
The mountain men, led by Gary Moyer, have been involved for more than two decades, and the horse portion has been so well represented by Janelle Urista and her daughters and the riders they gather.
Clint and Tara Shults provide set -up, participation and whatever needs done.
Thad Hauck was responsible for the fireworks that made the battles real for years, and now Valley Repair helps with that, along with the local fire department.
It is also worth a poll to see how many community members have been can-can girls over the years. The dance now has an actual choreographer with Kari Jo Stevens, who has done a phenomenal job in taking over this portion of the program.
There have been a handful of narrators over the years, each offering their own touch to the story.
This year, Jamie Rogers will narrate for the second year in a row. She seems to have a similar style to the nearly 15-year run of Caroline Cooley.
The pageant is a re-enactment of the last Ute Indian uprising, including the “Thornburgh Battle,” and, of course, the “Meeker Massacre.”
However, it gives a neutral opinion of both sides, and potentially provides perspective for those who have never heard the story.
Recently, one Rio Blanco County Historical Society member was asked if the pageant would like to have members from the Ute Tribe near Vernal, Utah, participate. Of course the consensus was “absolutely.”
This validates the idea that the pageant holds historical integrity, and writers prided themselves in the factual representation of the happenings.
It is truly a one-of-a kind show, with so many people working together to re-enact a major event with racing horses, burning buildings and a chance to learn about area history.
The Pageant will begin at dusk on Friday, July 3.
One tourist summed it up by saying, “It was so much more than I expected. The town is only like 2,000 people, but this pageant has 100 of them or more participating.” It is certainly worth the two hours for its historical and comedic value and, of course, the aspect of tradition.