By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The deaths of eight people at a concert in Houston over the weekend has Cheyenne Frontier Days officials looking at ways to improve their own security at the rodeo’s night shows.
Frontier Days CEO Tom Hirsig told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that he has been studying the Texas incident. He added his team has always worked to spread out members of the crowd attending the event’s concerts to keep their attention focused on the stage.
“Security changes all the time and if you don’t look at situations like this and evaluate your own events, you shouldn’t be in this business,” Hirsig said.
On Friday night, a surge in members of a crowd of 50,000 people attending a concert by Travis Scott’s during the AstroWorld Music Fest led to eight people being killed and dozens being injured. Investigators are still attempting to determine the cause, but reports indicate there were issues with crowd control during the evening.
According to CNN, at least 18 lawsuits related to the festival had been filed by Monday evening in Harris County District Court in Texas. Event organizer Live Nation Entertainment was named as a defendant in all but one of the suits, while Scott was named in most.
Hirsig said since all 50,000 people were focused on Scott performing on the stage, they crowded too closely together and crushed and trampled people.
“For us, our standing room is split into four quadrants, with 1,500 people in the smaller two and 5,000 on each side of the track,” he said. “Due to COVID last year, we added another screen down the track, so everything’s not totally focused on the artist in the middle on the stage.”
Hirsig said CFD officials intend to expand the “party zone,” the area closest to the stage, so people do not feel that they need to push forward to see the artist better. CFD will add at least one more screen in time for next year’s rodeo and intend to add more food and water options as well.
While there are times when people get rowdy in the party zone, CFD employs Cheyenne police officers, trained volunteers and private security guards to keep the crowds from getting too wild, Hirsig said.
Hirsig noted that in 2021, despite record attendance, concert-goers seemed to be on their best behavior. But, he also knows that security issues can arise at any moment, so he and the rest of the organizers ensure that safety is their top priority.
“You don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but also, if you don’t do everything possible to make it safe for people out there, you’re liable for it,” he said.