Bill Sniffin: There Is Nothing Even Close To Frontier Days – What An Experience!

Publisher Bill Sniffin wrote about the 2021 "Daddy of 'em All."

Bill Sniffin

July 28, 20214 min read

Bill at frontier days
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Bill Sniffin, Publisher

What has 6,000 legs, is 125 years old, and causes a three-state area to go crazy over a 10-day period in the middle of the hottest days of the summer?

No, I am not describing some old-time monster. 

Well, yes, it really is a monster.

The legendary Cheyenne Frontier Days is running full bore in its 125th annual event. Called the “Daddy of ‘Em All,” it is a world-class, cowboy-themed event put on  entirely by 3,000 volunteers. It seems to draw visitors mainly from Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska.

We were there this week and had some good chats with folks from Texas, Utah, and Montana.  So, the reach of Frontier days stretches far beyond the three states that border Cheyenne.

Our new friends the Daltons from Richfield, Utah, were newly retired and had not been to Frontier Days for years. They loved the rodeo and also planned to attend the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) show. We also attended it and it was fantastic. 

A Texas couple sat next to us at the Cody Johnson concert.  I swear I heard the star of the show shout out that this was the largest crowd for the concert in the history of CFD.  It truly was huge, but bigger than Garth Brooks or Blake Shelton? If so, he did well, indeed.  And yes, he put on a wonderful show.

He really played up to the conservative nature of his audience. At one point, he yelled “Isn’t this great? I haven’t seen a single mask here tonight!”

The 34-year old Texan said he played old fashioned country music. Lots of emotion and lots of patriotism. His audience seemed super-pleased with everything he said.

We talked with some visitors from Darby, Montana who had not been to Frontier Days for a decade. They were really impressed by everything. 

Ellen Fike of the Cowboy State Daily was taste testing the odd dishes on the midway.  Nancy and I joined her, Jim and Mary Angell, and Dave Lerner as Ellen toured the various eateries. 

Her first treat was a was a Fried Chicken Doughnut Sandwich. She took one big bite.  She seemed to like it.  I also got to take a big bite – you know, even a breaded chicken fillet tastes good surrounded by hot, fresh, sugary glazed donuts.  I think my waistline gained an inch, at least.

Later she tried a hot dog covered in potato chips (tasted better than it sounds), a giant turkey leg, some deep-fried Oreos and some other oddball items.  (Note: Check out Ellen’s video – it is both entertaining and educational!)

All I know is that people were hungry and the food lines were long.  We waited in one for 20 minutes – probably my all-time record.  It was a fun time to people watch so we just waited and waited and waited.

We ended up paying $12 each for two beef-kabobs, which I must admit were about the best ever. Really hot, nicely cooked, medium rare, and tender.  Was it worth the wait?  Yes.  But folks out here in Wyoming do not like waiting and we do not like long lines.

Speaking of lines, exiting the Frontier Park after that Cody Johnson concert was slow.  The crew did a good job dealing with an impossibly large number of vehicles.  Again, here in the Cowboy State, we are uncomfortable with long lines and long traffic stops.

This also applies to the national parks  right now.  That is why you will see so few Wyoming license plates up there this time of year. Those long lines do not have much of a lonely vibe about them, which is a Wyoming trademark.

But I digress.

Later during our time in Cheyenne, we were able to attend some of the special events lined up by a major sponsor, Cowboy Skill Games.  It was nice to see Tucker Fagan, Jon Downing, Gay Woodhouse, April Brimmer Kunz, Katie Legerski, Guy Cameron, Gov. Mark Gordon, Mike McCrimmon, and a whole bevy of airmen and women from Warren AFB. 

Some of those U.S. Air Force airmen had recently been involved in rescuing a young girl who had been kidnapped.  The crowd gave them a rousing ovation when the announcer pointed out their heroics. Jimmy Orr organized the salute and the event. Well done. 

We also attended the afternoon rodeo with this group. Again, well done.  On a hot day, those misting machines were delightful.

We stayed in Cheyenne at the Red Lion, which is the old Holiday Inn. They really did a nice job keeping track of all 120 rooms during a hectic time of year. Jennifer Walker and her crew were magnificent.

Frontier Days is just plain wonderful.  Well worth the trip to Cheyenne!

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.