GREELEY — Patrons to the 98th Annual Greeley Stampede this year will see two major changes in the way the “World’s largest 4th of July Rodeo” handles its security.
Visitors to Island Grove Park will see bag checks and formal security at all entrances and a new clear-bag policy in the arena where the rodeos, night shows, demolition derby and other events are held.
Justin Watada, the event’s general manager, said the Stampede Committee decided they wanted to bring safety for the event in line with other large venues.
The Greeley Stampede dates back to the late 1800s as a way to honor local potato farmers. It became the Greeley Spud Rodeo in 1922, bringing in about 2,500 people each year. It became the Greeley Independence Stampede in 1972. Today, the Greeley Stampede host events year-round and boasts an average of 250,000 attendees a year. The 100-year celebration will take place in 2021.
The biggest change, perhaps, will be with what will be allowed in the arena, Watada said.
As with most venues across the state and country, the Stampede has adopted a clear bag policy for all events inside the arena. Only clear bags smaller than 12”X6”X12,” a 1-gallon freezer bag or smaller, a small clutch no bigger than 4.5”X3”X6.5,” or an official 12”X12” Stampede bag will be allowed in.
The only exceptions to the rule are diaper bags, which must be smaller than 24”X15”X18.” They must accompany the child and are subject to search. Also excepted by the rule is medically necessary items that do not fit into the clutch bag. They are also subject to search.
Watada said the Stampede Committee is always working with local law enforcement to make sure the event is safe for all, but most of it is behind the scenes. Recent events across the country made them take a harder look at more outward solutions.
“A lot of venues are going this way because unfortunately what has been happening at large venues,” Watada said. “It’s only the arena this year. Down the road, we could see it going park wide. We didn’t recreate the wheel. We looked at what CSU is doing and what the Broncos are doing in Denver and are kind of taking their policy. Most people we’ve talked to are aware of what a clear-bag policy is.”
The other big change will be at the entrances on 14th and 11th Avenues as well as by the event’s center, where there will be more formal security lines and bag checks, Watada said.
“Just a process to get people in,” Watada said, adding some of the music artists they’ve booked are asking for more security. Last year, Sublime wanted metal detectors and gate searches, he said. “We were just not set up that way. So, we’re being proactive.”
Stampede officials will get to test the new system before the event kicks off June 26. The Stampede directors now oversee the Greeley Blues Jam as well under a separate non-profit organization, and the new policy will be in effect for that on June 8 as well.
Information about the bag policy is going out with all tickets that are being mailed. Reminder notices will be sent via mail and email as the event gets closer.
“Kind of a know before you go,” Watada said. “And at all of our promotions this year, we’ll be giving out our official clear bags.”
Guests who may not get the word until they get to the arena will be able to use a generic bag that will be at all gates, purchase an official zippered Stampede bag or return to their cars to put stuff away, but Watada is hoping they can catch most people as they enter the park.
The price has not been set yet for the official bags, but Watada said they are working with sponsors and vendors to keep the price down.
“We want to make this as affordable as possible,” Watada said. “It will give us a better understanding about what’s coming into the park and reduce the amount of stuff that’s coming in. We want to be as accommodating as possible, that’s part of having a more formal security at the entrances. We will have volunteers just answering questions.”
About the Greeley Stampede:
Dates: June 26-July 7, 2019
Events: Six PRCA rodeos, including a finals rodeo on July 3; five night shows, including REO Speedwagon, Brett Eldredge, Kip Moore, Cody Johnson and Brother’s Osborne; Faith and Family night; Demolition Derby; Bull Fighting; Xtreme Bulls, Kid’s Rodeo, Carnival and more.
Tickets: Information on tickets can be found on the Greeley Stampede website.