The Memorial Day holiday may be the unofficial start to summer, but a stampede helps to draw the big crowds. The 52nd annual Elizabeth Stampede and Rodeo struck on June 2 with a Tracy Lawrence concert at Casey Jones Park.
Charlie Burd, who has been a volunteer with the Ski-Hi Stampede Committee in Monte Vista for 40 years, worked as an adviser to the Elizabeth Stampede on the concert. He said that although the concert did not sell out, it was a success, especially for a first year.
Lawrence primed the rodeo crowd for the three days of Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos beginning the evening of June 3 with Xtreme Bull Riding, where 50 PRCA cowboys attempted eight seconds of mastery on bulls with names like Gator Face and Rough N Tumble.
For those who didn’t get enough rodeo on that Friday evening, the Stampede offered three full rodeo performances over the weekend, the Family Day Rodeo and a Colorado Rodeo Legend performance on June 4, and the Red White & Blue Rodeo on the afternoon of June 5. Dances followed the evening rodeos.
The Saturday-morning Stampede Parade on June 4 was also a hit for visitors old and new.
“We’re fitted out with cowboy hats and boots, and we’re ready to roam,” said Mary Anne Follestad who moved to Parker from Norway with her family in March.
According to Lea Anne Russell, community relations chair for the Stampede, the parade drew nearly a third more participants than last year.
The string of antique cars and tractors, political candidates, bands and horses filled the entire town when the first of the 78 entrants returned to the start-finish point just as the last in line were setting out on the route.
“Because of the weather we had more walking entrants, more people per entry,” Russell said.
But concerts, dances and rodeos were not the only draws for crowds over the weekend. In addition to the Stampede, the Elizabeth Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual ElizaBash Street Fair and Carnival.
New to ElizaBash this year was a full carnival including a Ferris wheel, a petting zoo and a bungee trampoline.
“We get people in from Douglas County and from Limon,” said Claudia Henning of the Elizabeth Area Chamber of Commerce. “This is a very big event; the biggest weekend for Elizabeth.”
“Yes, we have 500,000 people here,” joked Chamber of Commerce board member Jenny West.
Though West’s jest may be slightly embellished, the Stampede Parade and ElizaBash swelled the population of Elizabeth to around four times normal, and one police officer’s estimate of the crowd during the parade and ElizaBash was 5,000 to 7,000.