By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
There will likely be no decision on canceling Cheyenne Frontier Days until at least late May or early June, CEO Tom Hirsig said Monday.
Hirsig, in a telephone interview with Cowboy State Daily, said rodeo officials are keeping track of conditions, but are still planning to proceed with the 10-day event.
“We’re still moving forward with all aspects of the show,” Hirsig said. “We’re like everyone else, sitting here waiting for clarification on the future. There’s just not enough information on how long this will last.”
“If the biggest outdoor rodeo in the world were to be canceled, it would be only in conjunction with city, county and state orders,” Hirsig said. “It’s going to take a lot to bring the ‘Daddy of ’em All’ down.”
In a fireside chat hosted by Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr on Friday evening, she noted that the coronavirus pandemic has already impacted the rodeo, which is scheduled for July 17 through 26.
Orr said she hoped the event wouldn’t be canceled.
“It would be really difficult for our community,” she said. “Economically, yeah, but it’s our spirit that it would hurt. Cheyenne Frontier Days has continued on through wars and depressions. For (the virus) to be the reason we didn’t have it in 125 years would hurt our soul.”
Hirsig joked that he was one of the people waiting to see what would happen with the summer event, but clarified that no ticket sales have been suspended and there are no plans to do so.
The Frontier Days ticketing offices are closed to the public, but people can still purchase rodeo or night show passes over the phone or online, he said.
Hirsig added that ticket sales haven’t been affected much by the pandemic and very few people have called to inquire about rescheduling, much to his surprise and relief.
CFD officials are meeting weekly to discuss event plans, Hirsig said. The virus has impacted the volunteer meetings, but Hirsig said he has faith in the dedicated crew that keeps Frontier Days running every year.
Over the last few years, the CFD officials’ biggest concerns have been related to violence and trying to beef up security. This year, they may have to reorganize their priorities, Hirsig said.
“I’m not sure how things will look in a post-virus world,” Hirsig said. “At an event like ours, you’d probably have to have twice as many hand sanitizers as there are now. We’d maybe have to disinfect the bleachers and the grandstands once or twice a day. I don’t know how things will look.”
Ultimately, Hirsig said he and other CFD officials will continue to follow the rodeo’s mission of providing a positive economic impact on the community, which he said runs from Cheyenne through the state and even into the Front Range.
“We have an economic impact of $26 million in our community alone and $40 million for the state,” Hirsig said. “We want to do everything in our power to safely fulfill that mission. We’re dedicated to doing that until it’s decided that it’s not safe to do so.”