The Greeley Stampede Parade is an event that those in Greeley look forward to each year. People come out with their families, water and sunscreen to take in the various floats and marching bands as they head down 10th avenue.
The parade, held on the 4th of July, featured dancers, local businesses, horses, rodeo royalty and marching bands, just to name a few. In fact, 124 entries participated in the parade.
Many of the entries have participated in the parade for years. One of those entries was David Meek, the pastor from Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church. Meek has participated in the parade for 20 years, and has driven a 1938 Red Farmall F-20 Tractor for the last 10 years.
Meek grew up on the tractor. He was originally from Ridgely, Mo., and the tractor was used on the farm. “We used it for plowing, disking, cutting weeds and hay, planting and cultivating our big garden, and cutting wood in the winter with a front end mounted buzz saw,” he said.
They built the tractor when he was just 14-years-old. “My dad and I put three tractors together, we hand painted it aluminum and then red. He also welded a medal grate on the draw bar, so kids wouldn’t fall through it, and made a swinging draw bar. He also designed and extended the short gear shift & raised the front end up four inches,” Meek said.
He has many memories of the tractor growing up, but one incident sticks out in his mind. “One winter, when I was around 15, I took the tractor, pulling an empty wagon, to the woods to get wood to burn to heat our old house. As I was going down the one lane, steep, dirt hill, I began to slide to my right. I was turning the wheel to the left and grabbing the left hand brake, but it still kept sliding to the right. I kept wondering why wouldn’t it get over. I never did think about jumping off. It was a 10-foot drop off on both sides with huge rocks,” Meeks said.
He continued, “My Dad had put a right hand brake and foot brakes on, so I pushed in the clutch, and grabbed both hand brakes to stop. Suddenly, the tractor made a U-turn in the middle of the hill. I was pointing back up hill with my rear wheels spinning about a foot from the edge! I was a little scared, but I knew I couldn’t set there like that. So I pushed in the clutch, grabbed both hand brakes again, and slid about 3-inches. Then my left clutch leg began to shake. I think a big angel had fun that day, saving my life. My Dad came later and backed the tractor away from the edge, using the brakes.”
This experience may have been a scary one for Meeks, but it didn’t keep him off the tractor. He said, “It means so much to me because it kept us fed with great food from the Garden, and cut wood to keep us warm in the winter.”
The Red Farmall is the only tractor that Meek owns. However, he does have an identical pedal tractor, four small toy tractors and three miniature ones.
Another interesting entry in the parade was the lead off to the parade, and that was the herd of 50 Texas Longhorn steers. The steers, owned by Wes Sander of Woodward, Okla., range in age from 2 to 18 years.
The steers have been in the parade 13 times, with the exception of last year, when they were cut due to budget constraints.
The steers were originally bought by Sander in an auction that would have sent the steers to slaughter, and he started with 44. Instead, he decided to use the steers to promote the Elks Rodeo in Woodward, Okla. Benny Beutler, the stock contractor for the Greeley Stampede, called Sander after the event and told him to keep the steers.
Since that time, the steers have participated in events across many states, including but not limited to Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Wyoming.
Sanders has had as many as 350 steers, and almost all of them weigh between 1,300 and 1,500 pounds. Now he has around 100 that he cares for and travels with. The steers participated in a movie at one point, and are a crowd favorite at nearly every parade they attend. ❖