Come the Fourth of July, black powder runs through Keenan Ertel’s veins.
“The smoke, the smell, the colors, the beauty; it’s all wonderful to me,” he said.
A Montezuma County commissioner and undertaker, Ertel will pick up another hat on Friday, that of pyrotechnic expert at Cortez’ annual fireworks show. The 9 p.m. show is held at Parque de Vida.
Ertel said he entered the world of pyrotechnics about a decade ago. He learned his craft of controlled explosions under the tutelage of Bill Hutchinson. A member of the Rotary Club, Hutchinson operated the city of Cortez fireworks show for more than 50 years.
“The greatest lesson I learned from Hutch was safety first,” Ertel said. “He always stressed to be as safe as you can. If you’re safe, then everybody goes home happy.”
The city’s annual fireworks show is one of several Fourth of July events planned across the area this weekend.
The day kicks off Friday at 7 a.m. with the fourth annual Cortez Burst Triathlon. A fundraiser to benefit Friends of Recreation for a Healthy Community, the event is a competitive sprint distance triathlon.
Beginning at 9 a.m., two events are scheduled at Centennial Park, including the Family Fun Ride and Bike Parade, sponsored by Kokopelli Bike and Board. Targeted to children ages 10 and under, the event includes bike safety checks, bike decorating and a family ride around the figure 8 trails. Also at 9 a.m., various booths with games, food, exhibits and more are slated to open.
The city has also announced an Indian Dance featuring Norman and Ramona Roach of Gallup, N.M., on the City Park stage starting at 7 p.m.
Dove Creek, Rico and Mancos will also host fireworks displays Friday night.
In addition to fireworks, Dove Creek holds its 59th Pick ’n’ Hoe Celebration over the Fourth of July weekend. . For a full schedule, visit www.picknhoe.com.
Up in Rico, events planned for the weekend include craft sales and a parade, For a full schedule, visit www.ricofire.org.
Over in Mancos, the fire chief announced the annual fireworks show will start at dusk in Boyle Park.