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There’s something extra special about Evergreen on rodeo weekend.
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From the thousands of people lining Evergreen’s Main Street for the parade Saturday morning to the thousands who packed the two Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo shows at the El Pinal Rodeo Grounds — it’s hometown Western fun.
True to this year’s theme “On the Road Again,” the rodeo, in its 56th year, is bigger and better than ever, according to Bryan McFarland, chairman of the Evergreen Rodeo Association’s board of directors.
“We’re happy to support the community and to support the western values of the rodeo,” he said before the parade.
The parade is the place to see your neighbors, get some candy for the kids and watch entries from horses and cars to floats and bands. As one person put it, Evergreen’s parade is iconic Americana.
The rodeo is more than a show — starting with the booth at the entrance with cowboy hats for sale to every imaginable kind of food to vendor booths. Rodeo attendees come from far and near to see a PRCA event that doesn’t disappoint.
Ed Shirley, pastor of Mountain High Chapel and a member of the Evergreen Rodeo Association board of directors, ends his invocation at both the parade and rodeo: “Long live the Evergreen Rodeo!”
Here’s a look at some of Saturday’s fun:
7:15 a.m.: The pancake breakfast in the downtown parking lot — prepared by Blue Spruce Kiwanis — is underway with hungry people lined up to get pancakes, sausage, milk, juice and coffee. Kiwanis bought 60 pounds of pancake mix, expecting to serve several thousand pancakes. The group wanted to find a lot of hungry pancake eaters because proceeds from the breakfast go to Kiwanis charities.
9:15 a.m.: Families stream into downtown Evergreen from Meadow Drive, Highway 73 and Evergreen Parkway. Chairs that had lined the road since early morning are filling up. Excitement is in the air as parade-goers anticipate the parade that will start soon.
10:15 a.m.: The American Legion Post 2001 color guard, which leads the parade, stops at the announcer’s booth across from the Little Bear where attendees stand for the national anthem.
10:20 a.m.: Parade marshal Jerry Toman, riding his mule Gus, stops in front of the announcer’s booth. Toman laughed as he said being the marshal made him feel old. “This is wonderful,” he added. “It’s great to see downtown Evergreen full of people.” Toman was instrumental in the formation of what is now the Evergreen Rodeo Association in the 1960s and in acquiring the El Pinal Rodeo Grounds in 1974.
10:40 a.m.: Tommy Burnett, 3, is a hit at the parade as he carries an American flag while walking down the middle of Main Street with his dad. Dad said they weren’t part of the parade but just walking down the street.
10:45 a.m.: The gymnasts from Pinnacle Gymnastics stop their truck, drag out mats and apparatus, and put on a gymnastics show with flips and tumbling runs to the delight of the crowd.
10:50 a.m.: Daisy the 7-year-old pit bull rests at her mom’s feet as the parade passes her by. This was Daisy’s first time at the parade, and the loud music, truck horns and the parade commotion didn’t bother her one bit. Daisy’s mom, Rae Peters, said this was her first time at the parade, and she arrived at 8 a.m. to make sure she had a good seat.
11 a.m.: Bill Lee, known as Santa to some, walks along the parade route dressed as a prospector with burros Blaster and Jeb, and dog Deacon. He said he’s been part of the Evergreen Rodeo Parade on and off for a dozen years.
11:10 a.m.: Rick Garrison leads the Mountain High Chapel entry in the parade. Garrison waves an American flag, explaining that it was sentimental because it had belonged to his father.
11:25 a.m.: Ducks and people with the Dam Ducky Derby walk along the parade route. The head duck said he was having fun though the costume was very hot.
11:35 a.m.: Evergreen Fire/Rescue’s fire trucks end the parade, giving those in the crowd a good soaking — a mainstay of the parade. Molly Ottren and Lawson Essig brought their umbrellas to the parade in case of rain, and once they saw the drenching that was coming, the umbrellas came in handy.
12:30 p.m.: Most of the crowds are gone from downtown Evergreen, though restaurants are crowded as hungry parade-goers aren’t ready to leave the fun yet.
3:25 p.m.: At the El Pinal rodeo grounds, the gates have been open for 25 minutes, and Daniel Cook takes a turn on the mechanical bull. Cook said he’s a rookie who has started competing at the rodeos at the Greeley and Elizabeth Stampedes.
3:40 p.m.: Participants in Workshops in the Woods woodworking classes for kids, sell their work at a booth. They had pens, key chains, jigsaw puzzles, cutting boards and more, explaining that they start with small woodworking projects and progress to more difficult ones.
4 p.m.: Makenzie Hodge, 9 months old, has a pink cowgirl hat on her head. The youngster, the daughter of Michelle and Luke Hodge and granddaughter of Gary Hodge, has rodeo in her blood since her dad and granddad are on the Evergreen Rodeo Association board of directors. The hat didn’t stay on Makenzie’s head for long.
4:15 p.m.: Frankie Maresh sells cowboy hats just inside the entry gate. Maresh of Houston has been selling hats for 30 years at the Evergreen Rodeo, and rodeo officials believe he has the most longevity of any vendor there.
4:30 p.m.: Deb and Kent Carter of Platteville, Colorado, sit in lawn chairs above the stands — a popular spot for rodeo attendees. Kent, a 1973 Evergreen High School graduate, remembers people watching the rodeo from their truck beds in the rodeo's early years. The couple said they hadn’t been to the Evergreen Rodeo in a long time, but things worked out so they could attend this year.
4:35 p.m.: Brave 5- to 7-year-olds are lifted onto the backs of some fast and feisty sheep for the annual Mutton Bustin’ event. The tykes are scored, getting ribbons and trophies to the thunderous applause of the crowd.
4:45 p.m.: Cortney Clabaugh of Lakewood entertains the crowd with trick riding.
5:15 p.m.: The rodeo begins in earnest with bull riding in what announcer Doug Mathis calls “arm-jerking, neck-snapping action.” The crowd continues to pour into the rodeo grounds and lines are long for the array of food available: turkey legs, hamburgers, barbecue, pizza, hot dogs, funnel cakes and more.
7:30 p.m.: The rodeo grounds are much quieter as workers clean up — and prepare to do it all again on Sunday for the matinee rodeo.
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