By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
In Park County, confirmed cases of the coronavirus have skyrocketed in the last few days. As of Friday, 54 cases have been reported – that’s up from just 11 a little more than a week ago.
But the threat of the virus isn’t curbing the enthusiasm of rodeo fans.
Mike Darby, co-president of the Cody Stampede Board, said fans and participants are excited to catch some rodeo action at the 101st annual celebration.
“The town is behind us, and it’s been a great process,” he said. “The contestants are ecstatic, they’re thanking us profusely that we’re having a rodeo. Some of the contract personnel are so appreciative, this is the first time they’ve worked since Houston [in early March].”
However, Darby said rodeo officials are taking as many precautions as they can.
“We’re … COVID checking the cowboys as they come in every morning, everybody has passed,” he explained. “We wristband them, temp-check them, log them in, and everybody is so cooperative, it’s been just a great process.”
A big part of the annual Stampede Celebration are the parades – three, to be exact. Leanne Reiter is the chairperson for the Stampede Parade Committee. She said although very few people wore masks at the first parade on Thursday, rodeo officials are encouraging families to follow CDC guidelines.
“[Regulations say there should be] 6 feet apart between family groupings, so consider grouping your family up perpendicular to Main Street, put the little guys up front, the older people in the back, and that way we can maximize the access to Main Street,” she said. “If you cannot maintain the 6 feet social distancing between family groups, make sure you bring along a face covering with you.”
The Fourth of July rodeo usually sees a sold-out crowd of about 5,000 people. This year, the rodeo is allowed by state orders to seat just under 3,000.
However, Darby pointed out that those 3,000 tickets for Saturday’s Fourth of July performance have already sold out, adding that the opening night events on Wednesday drew a crowd of over 2,000 — just 500 fewer than last year’s opening night.