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The Meeker Range Call Rodeo celebrates its 131st year of bringing the sport to the western slope of Colorado this Fourth of July. Considered the oldest annual rodeo in Colorado starting in 1885, the birth of the Meeker Range Call followed the Deer Trail Rodeo – considered one of the first rodeos in the nation – by just 16 years. Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s it was a PRCA rodeo, then sanctioned with the CPRA as local competitors began entering. But when the annual event dwindled to a bronc and bull riding competition rather than the standard eight CPRA events, Meeker native Kelcee Vroman stepped in. “My father, Jake Milton, made it to the NFR 13 times in the team roping, so that event holds a special place in my heart, and I wanted to make sure Meeker kept one of the oldest rodeos going,” she explains. “I grew up in Meeker and helped time previous rodeos, but the last two years since we got the CPRA rodeo going again, I’ve been a member of the Range Call board. We were recently put into the new rodeo category, and the CPRA voted us the best new rodeo of the year last year.”
Taking place on July 2nd and 3rd, the rodeo features two CPRA performances this year, along with a ranch rodeo on Sunday. “Last year we gave out $700 in each event, including heading and heeling in the open and mixed team roping. We also have a brand new facility and arena this year, so we’ll have better parking and a better warm up area, plus we’ll be putting in hookups for trailers so we can have other functions in the summer,” says Kelcee. “I was pretty excited with how many contestants came to our rodeo last year. Brush has a well attended rodeo on the eastern slope, but Colburn has a rodeo too, and that helps pull people over the mountains. We work together so they can make more than one rodeo.”
While Kelcee serves as the arena director and refers to herself as the go to girl, her husband, Ryan, opens the timed event chute and pulls the barrier during both CPRA rodeos. The husband and wife manage a ranch about 40 miles outside of Meeker with their seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. She and Ryan enter the ranch rodeo every year, which features doctoring, wild cow milking, calf branding, steer tie down, and a hide race.
Another longstanding tradition in the Meeker community during Fourth of July, amidst the parade and Jon Wangnild Memorial Shoot, is the reenactment of the Meeker Massacre. “One of the biggest and most unique things about our celebration is the reenactment,” Kelcee explains. “The town is named after Nathan C. Meeker, who came to this area and wanted to teach the Ute Indians things like farming. But there was an uprising between the Utes and Meeker and the cavalry, and Meeker was killed. If you’ve grown up here, you’ve been in the pageant most likely – last year my kids and I played several of the Indians.” The Meeker Historical Society also puts on a reenactment of the Meeker Bank Robbery, which was attempted by Jim Shirley and his gang in October of 1896. Once the smoke from the guns and fires has settled, the fire department puts on an impressive fireworks display, while the town’s concert this year features music by Blackhawk and Ned Ledoux.
“We have approximately 2,000 people in Meeker, and such gracious people in the community,” says Kelcee, who hopes to see the CPRA continue to thrive and grow. “They helped the rodeo and the weekend flow easy last year, and that makes it easy to keep the rodeo going. With great volunteers, you just can’t go wrong.”
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