MEEKER I Endurance, perseverance and stubborn tenacity were characteristic of Meeker’s pioneer settlers. Today’s residents share those same traits, living 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 want.
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 the state of Colorado.
This year’s festivities begin Saturday with the demolition derby at 7 p.m. at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds and the free barn dance following the derby, running until 1 a.m.
On July 3, Range Call activities officially begin with the pre-pageant entertainment at the fairgrounds in Meeker at 7 p.m. The activities there will be followed by the Meeker Massacre Pageant, a locally directed theatrical production that recreates the Meeker Massacre.
Early Friday morning will bring the Run for Life 5K, a walk/run race, a pancake breakfast, the Range Call Parade at 10 a.m., a Faith Baptist Church barbecue, a three-on-three basketball tournament from noon to 1 p.m., the re-enactment of the robbery at Meeker Bank at 3 p.m., town fireworks at dark, the Range Call Rodeo Rough Stock Showdown (after the fireworks,and the Range Call Barn Dance (also after the fireworks) featuring “Country Music Project.”
From 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., the Meeker Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring local non-profit organizations in their booths on the lawn at the county courthouse in downtown Meeker.
In addition, a wide variety of vendors will be at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds.
Saturday’s activities will begin with the Save the Track Walk-a-thon from 7 to 11 a.m. at the Meeker High School track, the Jon Wangnild Memorial Shoot at 9 a.m. at the Meeker Sportsman’s Club range located 2.2 miles south of the intersection of highways 64 and 13, south of Meeker on Highway 13, the Rio Blanco County Historical Society’s Milk Creek Battle Site tours begin at 10 a.m., the featured concert of the weekend with Cris Cagle and Damsel, with the gates opening at fairgrounds at 5 p.m. and the concert beginning at 7 p.m. The concert will be followed by the barn dance featuring Couny Music Project, again at the indoor area.
The ever-popular Ranch Rodeo, where local ranches have a chance to compete with each other for prize money and coveted belt buckles, will begin Friday at 11 a.m. and will include the kids events, held during the rodeo.
While a wide range of the weekend’s events are free, you don’t want to miss out on the rest of the fun during Range Call. Adult (13 years of age and older) tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the gate; seniors’ (age 55 and above) tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the gate; and children from 6 to 12 years are $30 in advance or $35 at the gate. Children 5 years and younger are free.
Ticket prices do not include the pancake breakfast, the 5K walk/run race or root beer floats. Single-event tickets are available at the gate, but the purchase of a Range Call wristband is by far the best bang for the buck.
Tickets are available for purchase online at www.meekerrangecall.com, at the Meeker and Rangely chambers of commerce, at Meeker Drugs and Wendll’s Wondrous Things in Meeker.