When Parachute's Grand Valley Days celebration began in 1908, Juanita Satterfield's forebears were among the first participants.
Today, 104 years later, Satterfield is helping to organize this year's festivities, which include a parade, two nights of rodeo, and an ice cream social, among other events. Held in Parachute this Friday and Saturday, the event is expected to draw people from throughout the Grand Valley, including Rifle, Fruita and Grand Junction.
"It's been a family thing for as long as I can remember," Satterfield said. "My parents rode in the parade, I rode, and my kids rode."
The theme of this year's event is "Fire Up For The '50s," in honor of the Grand Valley Fire Protection District's 50th anniversary. Representatives of the district will receive the festival's Grand Marshal award, Satterfield said.
Contestants in the rodeo on Friday and Saturday nights can earn points in Fruita's Rim Rock Rodeo series. The rodeo will feature a full schedule of events, from sheep riding to breakaway roping and bull riding.
Having endured numerous wars and other historical events, Grand Valley Days has undergone some changes from one year to the next, according to Satterfield.
"There were years when there was no rodeo," she said. "During the war, it was known as the widows and widowers roundup."
According to a story in the Aug. 3, 1987, edition of the Valley West Dispatch newspaper, the first Grand Valley Days included a community baseball game, a dance, a "most beautiful baby" contest, automobile rides for 25 cents, and local talent shows, among others.
This year, Satterfield said she expects a fun community event.
"The weather usually gets a little blustery in the afternoon, but clears up just in time to make for perfect rodeo conditions," she said.