The last day of the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo started about 1 p.m. Saturday with a parade down Montezuma Avenue.
Saturday night’s rodeo had a Rodeo Heritage theme, so some of the floats included farm animals, vintage vehicles and riders decked out in old-fashioned gear.
More than 20 local businesses and organizations participated in the parade, which changed locations this year because of expected construction on Main Street. The parade, and the final rodeo performances later in the day, were intended to celebrate the Roundup Rodeo’s 88 years in Montezuma County, as well as the history of the Western lifestyle in general.
Wendy Wygant, a member of the rodeo committee, said the parade’s size has fluctuated a lot during its history because of issues with insurance, city regulations and other changes. It’s become a bigger event over the past three years, she said, thanks to the Cortez Rotary Club, which co-organizes the event and provides parade insurance.
Rotary member Jim Reser said he ranks the event with the Parade of Lights, the Homecoming parade and the Veterans Day parade as one of the biggest processions in Cortez.
“This is one of the best-attended parades,” he said.
Attendance this year was down, though, which Reser partly attributed to the new location. The city of Cortez originally planned to start construction on new medians and sidewalk ramps on Main Street in the first week of June, which would have made the parade’s usual route off-limits. That start date was eventually pushed back to June 18, but Reser said it was too late to change the rodeo’s plans.
Despite the smaller crowd, the floats showed plenty of enthusiasm, with local politicians waving from vintage cars, a Montezuma-Cortez School District marching band playing tunes and the Montezuma County Shriners riding their usual mini Model Ts. The Montezuma County 4-H program decorated its float with hay bales and a pen of goats, and the Mancos Valley Inn got into the Western spirit with a float made to look like a covered wagon.
The Roundup Rodeo didn’t have its own royalty this year, but the 2018 Miss Rodeo Colorado, Alex Hyland, waved to the crowd from the back of her truck near the front of the parade. Originally from Windsor, Hyland is spending the weekend in Cortez to promote the rodeo.
“I think it’s really important for us to have a presence all over Colorado, especially in Southwest Colorado, since we don’t get to make it out here as often,” she said. “The hospitality down here has been amazing.”
The Montezuma County Fair royalty and Miss Ute Mountain Princess Aliyah Jacket also rode in the parade. The rodeo committee brought up the rear with the most vintage vehicle in the parade, a horse-drawn carriage.