Part 3: Nephi’s Ute Stampede

In this 1936-ute-stampede-mtg1last post about celebrations in Nephi, you will see the beginnings of the annual rodeo that is held in that city to this day.  I don’t know where the name came from, but here is the first article I found that calls it the “Ute Stampede.”  This first meeting in 1936 was held in February to gauge interest in holding another rodeo in their city later that year.  Enough interest was shown that they held a second and a third meeting to set the course for another successful celebration!  They determined that this celebration would be even bigger and better than the Blackhawk Encampment from the previous year and they bumped the dates forward to mid-July; however, you will read that they called it their 2nd annual Ute Stampede.

Many components of their previous celebrations were preserved such as: competition of bands, rodeo contract with Colborn & Sorensen, carnival contract with Monte Young, and voting for a “queen.”  Again, they appointed committees to carry out the various activities and this year they even selected a “slogan” that encouraged all to wear western clothing and return to the times of the Wild West.  In a few short months, they had a program and all was made ready for the big event.  As their organization developed, they selected Preston L. Jones as chairman for the Ute Stampede.  He had chaired the celebration the year before and was one of the main drivers influencing the city to invite the Blackhawk Encampment to Nephi.

All their efforts paid off as they held an even bigger celebration than the year before, despite some challenges with rain.  (Because of the rain on Saturday that they feared may decrease attendance, the committee had hurriedly made a decision to add one more evening for the rodeo on Sunday.)

Unfortunately the newspaper from the week of the rodeo was missing, so I don’t know if the queen was LuDean Wade or Rosemary Belliston!  However, this later article mentions the visit of Utah Governor Blood to the rodeo and his commendations to the Nephi citizens as well as the results of the baseball games, boxing matches and band competition.  Within a few weeks many businesses and citizens had pledged their support for another rodeo in 1937 (and declared that holding the rodeo on a Sunday night was not an option).

1937-ute-stampede-3These were exciting times for Nephi!  I had to hold my own excitement in check as I hurriedly scrolled through the next few months in the newspaper.  Sure enough, even earlier in 1937 the city had elected a corporation consisting of nine directors to “put on” the Ute Stampede.  They joined the Rodeo Association of America and locked in Colborn & Sorensen Rodeo Co. for future events;  later (1956) Cotton Rosser would buy out that company to form The Flying U Rodeo Company.

At right is an article listing preparations for the 3rd annual Ute Stampede to be held in 1937.  If this is true, then those pioneer citizens of Nephi counted the Blackhawk Encampment held in 1935 as their 1st annual rodeo.  This means that the most recent Ute Stampede (held in July 2016) was the 82nd rodeo to be held in Nephi, Utah.

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