Greeley, CO: The 100th Stampede

It’s just a hop, skip and a jump across the border from Wyoming to get to Greeley, 50 miles north of Denver. Here, we spent the 4th of July weekend, attending the 100th Anniversary of the Greeley Independence Stampede.

The Stampede’s mission, dating back to the late 1800s, is to “celebrate our nation’s independence and preserve our western heritage.” In this part of Colorado, and at this celebration, prayers are issued aloud before events, belt buckles are very large, and even the littlest buckaroos wear cowboy hats.

We had high hopes for this Stampede, having spent a fun-filled, glorious week in 2016 at another stampede, the famous Calgary Stampede in Canada. Now THAT was really something! Just look at that nightly extravaganza!

Alas, this particular stampede was more “quiet shuffle” than “stampede” …. really, not much different than a lot of county fairs many of us have attended. But if you’re white trash like me, showing your 4-H dairy goats at fair after fair across the southwest in your childhood, you grew up on all these sorts of things!

The Demolition Derby was car crashing, engine revving, dirt-flying fun with more than 100 drivers.  Cars try to smash into other cars so as to render them unable to run (and of course, bring home the prize money). There are other rules involved, but nobody really cares, they just wanna SMASH SOME METAL!

American Bullfighting is not the kind you see in Spain, where they throw sharp arrows at bulls to make them mad. Rather, this is the sport where the competitors are judged on how well they maneuver around a Mexican fighting bull, often by jumping over them or engaging in other fancy moves for extra style points.

Cowboy Mounted Shooting is the fastest growing equestrian sport in the nation, and it was astonishing to watch. Contestants aim to hit up to 10 balloons while charging through the course on their horse, using two .45 caliber single action revolvers that must be cocked each time before firing. They generally do the entire course in 15 seconds or less: that’s how fast they are racing!

Besides official PRCA rodeo, carnival rides, parades, and more, multiple top country acts give concerts, in the same outdoor arena where the bullfighting, demo derby, etc. were held earlier in the day.

We saw one of our favorite country artists, Jordan Davis (with opening act Elvie Shane), who is perhaps best known for his hit song, “Buy Dirt.” This is an ode to putting down roots and raising a family, but has a whole ‘nother meaning for my husband … who is a land developer. Yep, he loves to buy dirt … but more importantly, to sell it!

Lastly, we had a good laugh at the marketing techniques of the carnival vendors.

The Greeley 4th of July parade was large — one of the largest in Colorado, in fact. But the largest thing about it was the horns on the longhorns leading the parade! 50 or more enormous, horned bulls, marching down the street completely unrestrained and untethered. It seems like lawyers somewhere would have put a stop to this by now; what if something went …. wrong?

We got booted last-minute from our long-standing reservation at the Greeley RV Park when it sold to a new owner with a hard, black rock for a heart. Thus, we ended up staying 25 miles away in Loveland, Colorado, where they take their city’s name to heart (sorry, couldn’t resist). You can add your “lock of love” to their sign, finalizing your relationship until the end of time.

Here, the Loveland RV Park advertises a “pet wash” as one of their many amenities. With two mangy mutts occupying our RV, we eagerly went looking for it. Ummmm ……… not really what we had in mind.

While in Loveland, we happened upon the charming 10-acre Benson Sculpture Garden, where there are currently 178 sculptures on display throughout a lush, beautiful, free and dog-friendly park. It is known as “one of the 20 must-see contemporary art sites across the USA,” and many had clever names.

We plan our itineraries to always spend the 4th of July in a town that doesn’t let the holiday slip by uncelebrated, and for that, Greeley came through! But … it’s hot here: the kind of hot we leave Phoenix every summer to avoid. So we’re heading high up into the mountains west of Denver for some thinner air and cooler temperatures!

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