Cody is celebrating two things during this long holiday weekend — Independence Day and the 100th anniversary of its world-famous Cody Stampede Rodeo.
Launched as a one-day event in 1919 by community leaders as a way to celebrate the opening of Yellowstone National Park’s eastern gate, the rodeo now runs for five nights and is considered one of the top rodeos in the world.
“As far as in the western world and the world of rodeo, Cody, Wyoming, is way up there on the list,” said Dan Miller, a longtime television rodeo announcer. “It has $480,000 (in prize money) and you get one chance at that here. When you put it in the contest of Cheyenne (Frontier Days), you put it in the context of Pendleton (Roundup in Oregon), the other rodeos, Cody holds its own.”
This year’s event, also featuring parades a craft fair and entertainment, began June 27 with a concert, followed by a professional bullriding competition and then four nights of Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association-sanctioned rodeos.
The events at the rodeo have changed significantly from its first years, said Robyn Cutter, with the Park County Archives.
“They had a lot of different races early on,” she said. “The chariot races, the wild cow milking contests, the different races that we don’t have today. But it’s been very exciting to see how it’s grown and changed over the years.”