The Ute Stampede, held in Nephi each July, will open this summer for the 57th time.

In those 57 years, the rodeo has become not only an event featuring two-ton bulls, pretty girls and seasoned cowboys but has bucked into a three-day celebration which draws people from all over the nation.The Stampede is big business in Nephi, and every year the celebration attracts even more visitors. The summer of 1990 drew a record number of fans to the rodeo, said J. Morris (Ike) Lunt, 1990 president of the Ute Stampede Committee, which runs the event each year.

"We took in more revenue last year," Lunt said. "The celebration is well-known all over the state. Folks know the Stampede just keeps getting better and better each year.

"Stampede time has become a popular time for class reunions," he said. "We hope the trend continues."

Lunt said the rodeo continues to attract big-name cowboys to appear in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA)-approved rodeo. Last year many of the top competitors in the world standings appeared in the rodeo, said Lunt. In addition, Cotton Rosser, Marysville, Calif., who produces some of the world's finest bucking stock, provides animals for the rodeo.

The Stampede committee is always looking for ways to improve the celebration. Lunt said over the years the Ute Stampede Fun Run has been added. There is an annual beauty contest, a golf tournament, a bazaar featuring homemade items and an auto show.

The Juab County Commission will help provide music for the Stampede's annual parade. Dave Morgan, who has been in charge of attracting more bands to the parade, said this year it will take more than $5,000 to pay to the 20 bands who may attend the parade.

Because of their approval for the project, commissioners agreed to up the money they donate to the project from $350 to $500 this year. The money is enough to pay the band that must travel the longest distance to march in the parade.

Twenty bands were invited to participate in this year's parade on July 12. "I have had 10 confirmations," said Morgan. Five more bands have been invited to participate than marched in last year's parade, he said.

"Every year I have 27 businesses donate money," said Morgan. The money usually comes to about $1,100. The Ute Stampede Committee donates approximately $1,375 and the local Chamber of Commerce donates 10 percent of the costs.