100th Greeley Stampede embraces history, tradition and family
Feeling great to celebrate the century mark
The Greeley Stampede has been a family-driven event since its inception back in 1922. Billed as the Greeley Spud Rodeo to honor potato farmers in the region, the original organizers used the promise of entertainment, food and coffee to lure farming families out to the community event. Taking a look at the big crowds arriving on scene in 2022, while most weren’t potato farmers, a high percentage were families from the region looking to have fun, maybe recall past experiences in Greeley, Colo., and even provide their children with memories that will last a lifetime.
Stampede organizers seemed to understand that dynamic, as they made a push for the 100th event to provide as much family-friendly options as possible, including nod-backs to old style county fair activities like sack races, long jumps, and opportunities to interact with animals of all types.
Over the first four days of 2022’s Greeley Stampede, event personnel were pleased with the community response.
“We have been having a lot of positive feedback from people,” said Greeley Stampede Marketing Coordinator Kevin McFarling on Sunday June 26. “There are a lot of families here enjoying themselves, coming out to rodeos and concerts. (It’s a) great family atmosphere (with) lots of fun happening. We’re just excited to be here for it.”
Part of the fun was the opportunity for families like the Edgerly’s from Greeley to compete against each other in the aforementioned sack races. Their laughter as mom beat dad to the finish line, even after dad made sure to stretch before the race, was infectious. Other fun for families included rekindling memories for long-time friends Rachel and Torrie, as they recounted attending the Greeley Stampede since graduating from Greeley Central and remembered seeing Jo Dee Messina, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw perform back in 1996. Now they were bringing their young sons 6-year-old Evan and 8-year-old Treyson to build memories of their own.
On top of the many activities were reminders of the long tradition and history of the Greeley Stampede. “Selfie Stations” for families recalled the rodeo’s past and its agricultural foundation, while games and art were set up throughout the grounds to promote its 100th anniversary.
But it wasn’t just visitors that enjoyed the lengthy history and family-friendly tradition of the Greeley Stampede. PRCA world champion saddle bronc rider, world champion bull rider, and world champion all around cowboy Stetson Wright also loved competing in the long-running rodeo. During Sunday afternoon’s rodeo performance (June 26), Stetson had four other family members join him on the lineup card. Competing with and against Jesse Wright, Statler Wright, Ryder Wright and Spencer Wright was a positive for the Utah cowboy.
“Most people only get that when they are home at the practice pen and I get that at every single rodeo,” said Stetson after talking with his family members behind the scenes as they encouraged each other and planned their next steps on the rodeo road.
Taking part in historic rodeos like the Greeley Stampede also meant something else to the successful and humble competitor.
“It is awesome,” Stetson began. “Other than the fact they are pretty old rodeos and they are big, these are all the rodeos my dad, uncles and brothers have competed at and won at. It is a dream come true to get to ride in places like this and follow in their footsteps. “
Talking about the large crowd that showed up on Sunday afternoon to watch the rodeo, he liked seeing how strong the Stampede’s presence was after enduring 2020’s national downturn along with every other rodeo event.
“The fans make it,” he said about being a rodeo competitor. “You can make a good ride and it will be special, but it is really special when you have a packed house and every screaming fan is there cheering for you. That is what we all live for. Big moments like that. Nobody likes to be 95 points in an empty stadium. It is always nice having a crowd, absolutely.”
Event officials also appreciated the big crowds showing up at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley.
“Response has been overwhelming, so far,” summed up McFarling about the attendance over the first four days of the 100th Greeley Stampede and the effort that went into getting ready for the century mark celebration. “It has been a lot of work to get to this point, so now being in it and watching everybody come out to the Stampede and having a really good time, that is why we do this. It feels great.”
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