This is a weekend to which some folks around Southwest Colorado look forward for a whole year. The Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo, with world-class riders and stock, begins tonight at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds. Congratulations and thanks are owed once again to the community leaders who have kept the rodeo alive, improved the facilities, and put in all the hundreds of hours of hard work necessary to put on such a large and complicated event.
A rodeo offers more than just entertainment, although the entertainment value is substantial. The Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo is a link to our heritage, to a time when the skills we now find so fascinating to watch were essential to the work of running livestock. Times have changed since then. Newfangled technology - pickups, stock trailers, utility vehicles, as well as movable corral panels, antibiotics, ear tags and computerized recordkeeping - has changed the face of ranching.
Thats not to say theyve made it easy, and the needs are still great. Stockmen and -women still help provide the food supply for the entire nation. They still face pests and predators, unpredictable weather and predictably low cattle prices. Ranching is still hard work, and it still demands a great deal of skill.
The knowledge handed down from generation to generation includes much more than just showy riding and roping, but those skills are emblematic of a lifestyle respected for its core values of hard work, respect for the land, and cooperation in the face of difficult challenges. Times and technology may have changed, but those values still offer the best way to face challenges. Rodeo weekend is a good opportunity to spend some time pondering that.
Besides attending the rodeo, be sure to watch the parade, which begins on the west end of Main Street Saturday afternoon. The rodeo parade is another tradition rescued Also organized by community leaders who stepped forward when it seemed the tradition might die. There will be rodeo royalty, floats, classic cars, bands, horseback riders and horse-drawn vehicles, police and fire vehicles, and who knows what else!
As the youngsters already know, because they have radar for such fun, theres also a carnival at the fairgrounds.
If youre visiting from out of town, we hope youll visit our restaurants and our shops. If you have time, spend the afternoon in the shade in the park, or burn off some calories in the rec center. Take a Sunday drive through the mountains or a dip in McPhee Reservoir. Lift up your eyes to the La Platas, if the smoke from Arizona wildfires doesnt settle in again. And dont miss the regions celebrated archaeological attractions, of which Mesa Verde National Park is the centerpiece but is far from the only one.
Spend this weekend celebrating all that Cortez has to offer. A good time will be had by all.