Founded by the Greeley Jaycees in 1953, the Greeley Stampede has grown to become a premier Colorado tradition. With more than $2 million raised for charity in its 54-year history and millions of smiles shared, this year’s event promises to be the best one yet! Here are some interesting facts about our beloved Stampede:
The first Stampede was held in 1953, but the idea actually began more than a decade earlier with an annual rodeo event called Frontier Day. The Jaycees organized Frontier Day to raise money for community projects and donated the proceeds to a different cause each year.
In 1949, they decided that instead of having it as an annual event, they would put on one big fundraising event that encompassed several activities — including the popular Wild West show and sale of 4-H animals. That’s when the idea for a summer festival known as the Stampede was born!
A total of 1,250 Jaycees “plowed through the winter snows” to raise money and boost attendance for that first Stampede. The group sold 5,000 tickets at $2 each. All proceeds went to the Greeley Salvation Army Kroc Center (now known as The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center).
The first Grandstand Show featured an exhibition by trick riders from the Ringling Brothers Circus. There was also a parade on Main Street; dog races; horsemanship contests; rodeo performances by area cowboys, Indians, Mexican vaqueros, and buffalo runners; a stunt show called the Horseman’s Pull-Off; free concerts in Island Grove Park featuring big band music by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys; a carnival at Island Grove Park; the sale of 4-H animals; street dances; and even an airplane dance.
The first Stampede was such a success that the Jaycees decided to make it an annual event — one with plenty of thrills and entertainment for the whole family! The Greeley Jaycees now have more than 1,500 members.
They are responsible every year for putting on hundreds of events designed to entertain, help others, educate and develop leadership skills in young men and women who belong to the organization. This is done through a variety of projects benefiting people in need as well as enriching their own lives.
These include community service efforts like donating thousands of hours each year in support of local schools, recreation centers, and other organizations; scholarships for members to attend colleges, universities, and technical schools; the annual Stampede Rodeo & Parade that brings more than 100,000 people downtown during the Labor Day weekend — not to mention one heck of a party!
The Greeley Jaycees are proud of their heritage. It has made such a profound difference in Greeley that it’s no surprise they believe in its future as well! The Greeley Jaycees have been working hard since 1949 to make life in this city even better for everyone.