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MEEKER I Endurance, perseverance and stubborn tenacity were characteristic of Meeker’s early pioneers. Not unlike those early settlers, today’s residents share many of those same traits.
They have lived and continue to live in a community that continues to survive and do well in spite of booms and busts, droughts and floods, times of plenty and times of not so plenty.
In 1855, those early settlers came together to celebrate the birth of our nation and perhaps to celebrate another year of beating the odds. Many small towns in the late 19th century held community-wide Fourth of July activities with horse races, picnics, parades and speeches. To these traditional events, the town of Meeker added a community rodeo.
Dubbed “Range Call” in the late 1930s, Meeker’s Fourth of July celebration evolved into a three- or four-day summer festival with top-notch entertainment, one of the best fireworks displays in the state, historical re-enactments performed by local residents, and, yes, rodeo. Meeker’s Range Call carries the honor of being the longest-running annual rodeo in Colorado.
Range Call events officially start today at 10 a.m. A full carnival will be in place at Ute Park, a different venue from past years. Ute Park is located just outside the west end of Meeker,
Most events will take place this year at Ute park, although there will be events at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds as well as in downtown Meeker and Meeker Town Park.
Today at 6 p.m. at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds will be the CTTPA Truck and Tractor Pull, with mostly out-of-town competitors, but locals are also welcome to enter.
On Friday, the dust will be flying early with the start of the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association’s (CPRA) rodeo slack beginning at 8 a.m. at the county fairgrounds.
At 10 a.m. the Rio Blanco County Historical Society will host a tour of the Milk Creek Battlefield Park. Persons interested in the tour should meet at the garrison, next door to the White River Museum (565 Park), to hear the story of the last Native American battle with the U.S. Army in the United States. Cost is $10 per adult while children are free. The tour takes at least two hours.
Back at Ute Park, the vendor booths will be open from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. and world-renowned hypnotist Chris Mabrey, who is from Grand Junction, will take the stage at 2 p.m.
At 3 p.m. on Friday, the action returns to the county fairgrounds for the start of the actual CPRA rodeo.
From dusk to 9 p.m. the main arena will be taken over by the re-enactment of the Meeker Massacre, known as “The Pageant.” This is a can’t-miss event for the persons who have never seen it. It is a locally directed, produced and acted theatrical production that recreates the Meeker Massacre.
Saturday is truly a fun and action-packed day, beginning with the Run for Your Life 5K walk/run. Race and walk registration begins at 6 a.m. for the 5K run, which will begin at 7:30 a.m. At 8 a.m. is the start of the 5K Run for Your Life walk, all taking place in downtown Meeker.
All runners will receive a T-shirt that was designed by Kolbi Franklin, a 13-year-old student from Meeker.
From its start at 7 a.m. to its close at 10 a.m. is the Masonic-Lodge-presented pancake breakfast, being held at the Meeker Masonic Lodge on Seventh Street downtown for town residents and area visitors.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the Plein Air Art auction, to be held at the Meeker Public Library on the corner of Main and Fifth streets.
Another highlight of the weekend is the Meeker Range Call Parade, beginning at 10 a.m., which runs from west of downtown along Main Street through town. Meeker area residents, businesses and others take part in quite an eclectic event.
Also at 10 a.m., the vendors will be set up along with the Kids’ Corner, both of which shut down about 4:30 p.m.
After the parade, a wide series of Range Call events will take place back at Ute Park, downtown Meeker and at the fairgrounds.
Faith Baptist Church will hold a barbecue beginning at 11 a.m. on the courthouse lawn.
Also at 11 a.m., the annual 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament late registration will be held with play beginning at noon in the parking lot at Mountain Valley Bank on Main Street, downtown.
At noon, world-renowned hypnotist Chris Mabrey will present a show at Ute Park.
At 1 p.m. at the intersection of Sixth and Main streets will be a re-enactment of the thwarted 1896 bank robbery that occurred in Meeker. Locals will re-enact the unsuccessful robbery attempted on Oct. 13, 1896. When the crisis was over and the Meekerites were done protecting their deposits, three “wanna-be” robbers lay dead.
The rest of the afternoon’s activities will be held at the at the fairgrounds, beginning with the Ranch Rodeo Calcutta, followed at 2 p.m. by the kids’ rodeo events, which immediately precedes the Ranch Rodeo.
The gates will open again at the fairgrounds for the Range Call concert. The concert, which begins at 7 p.m. will feature opening act Chancey Williams and The Younger Brothers, who will be followed by the Sawyer Brown band.
After the concert will be a fireworks show in downtown Meeker with the best viewing area being Meeker Town Park. This event is being put on by Meeker Fire and Rescue.
Following the fireworks there will be a barn dance at the indoor arena at the fairgrounds.
The barn dance usually ends the Fourth of July Range Call activities, but this year the free Jon Wangnild Memorial Shoot will be held on Sunday at the Meeker Sportsman’s Club, about 2.2 miles south of the intersection of Highways 13 and 64, on the east side of Highway 13.
The shoot is held in memory of Jon Wangnild, an officer with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, who was killed in 2013 in a horseback riding accident. The shoot will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and professionals will be on hand to help you have safe fun with the weapons. Those who attend can fire low- and high-powered pistols, shotguns and archery with the weapons and ammunition provided free of charge.
Range Call is a massive effort each year, running three or four days, and it involves intense participation by members and staff of the Meeker Chamber of Commerce, hundreds of local volunteers, the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Parks District, the Rio Blanco County Historical Society, the Masonic Lodge, Faith Baptist Church, Meeker Fire and Rescue and, most of all, the organizing Range Call Committee.
Wristband prices are $40 for adults in advance and $45 at the gate. For kids (6-12), seniors (55-plus) and veterans, wristbands are $30 in advance at $35 at the gate. Children age 5 and under are free.
The wristband ensures access to the CTTPA Truck and Tractor Pull, the Meeker Massacre Pageant, the Ranch Rodeo, the Sawyer Brown concert and the Barn Dance.
Advance tickets are available at Wendll’s Wondrous Things and the Meeker Chamber of Commerce, both located on Market Street.
A used truck will be given away by Columbine Ford of Rifle during Range Call. To get your entry all you have to do is spend a total of $30 or more at the vendors at Ute Park. After each qualifying purchase the vendor will give purchasers a sticker to place on a drawing card to be returned to the Meeker Range Call information booth. The drawing for the truck will be held during the Sawyer Brown concert on July 4. If you have any questions please contact Dawn Pozorski 320-223-4351.