Although Cheyenne Frontier Days’ night show and rodeo attendance dipped slightly this year, the organization’s CEO said it was no cause for alarm.
In fact, it’s been a great year.
The Frontier Night concert series saw 103,798 people in attendance this year, down from 115,618 who came during the 125th Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2021. Over nine rodeo performances, 108,662 people attended this year, compare to 111,617 last year.
The 2020 CFD was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying the anniversary celebration.
“Anytime you can come off an anniversary year and be somewhat close to its numbers, then you’ve had a really great year,” Frontier Days CEO Tom Hirsig said. “These numbers are still tremendous. Last year’s night show lineup was just tremendous, with Garth Brooks, Eric Church and Thomas Rhett.”
Brooks’ concert at Frontier Days last year sold out within minutes of the tickets going up for sale.
This year’s concert lineup included Jason Aldean, Kid Rock and Brooks and Dunn. Some of the concerts were close to capacity, but did not quite sell out of tickets.
Hirsig said when Frontier Nights has a strong lineup with artists that regularly sell out concert venues, this means more people also attend the rodeos.
“We’d love to have Garth and guys like him every year, but we just do the best we can,” Hirsig said. “It’s not always about the volume of tickets that we sell. It’s also about making smart moves, financially, with who you booked.”
With 2021 being the year Frontier Days returned from its COVID cancellation, Hirsig also thinks more people wanted to get out of the house after being cooped up for nearly a year due to the pandemic.
The total attendance was nearly 265,000 people this year, more than four times the size of Cheyenne’s population, just over 60,000.
While there has been a decline in tourism across the state, Hirsig did not think that necessarily had anything to do with Cheyenne Frontier Days’ numbers being down.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “We do have places we need to look at and consider what can be done to make this better. We’re just now assessing what took place this year and how it can be improved for next year.”
Despite the slight attendance dip, there was actually an increase in rodeo contestants this year, with 1,650 cowboys and cowgirls competing for a record $1,080,813 in prize money. This was up from 1,403 contestants in 2021.
Hirsig noted that the military presence at CFD this year was the largest its ever been, with soldiers from all branches of the military coming out during the 10 days to enjoy the festivities.
“We’re extremely satisfied with how things went this year,” Hirsig said. “We’re all about honoring cowboys and the military at Frontier Days. If we can accomplish that goal of honoring those two heroes, then we’re in good shape.”