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Cheyenne Frontier Days CEO Explains Crowd Control To Keep People Safe At Big Concerts

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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.

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New Lane Frost Documentary Announced; Film To Be Released This Winter

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A documentary about the life of late bull-rider Lane Frost is in the works and a trailer for the film was recently released.

“Our team is humbled to present to you the first official trailer and title of the Lane Frost documentary,” said the documentary’s producers, listed on IMDB as Out of Order Studios and Tough Draw. “Combining the details of his life, the legend he became, and the legacy he left behind brought us a heartwarming story of the impact Lane had on the sport of bull riding, the rodeo community, and fans around the world.”

“Lane: Life, Legend, Legacy” will be released sometime soon, although neither the trailer nor video description give a release date.

The documentary features interviews with some of Frost’s closest friends, including bull-rider Tuff Hedeman and Frost’s widow, Kellie Macy.

Frost was killed in 1989 during the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo after he was injured by the bull he had just finished riding, Takin’ Care of Business. He was 25.

Hedeman was at the rodeo when Frost died, and he discusses the horrific event in the trailer.

“Lane’s a world champion,” Hedeman said in the trailer. “You don’t expect a world champion to die in one of the biggest, most prestigious rodeos in the world.”

Frost’s mother Elsie said in the trailer that her son did more in his 25 years than many people do in their entire lifetimes.

“He had a full life, he did exactly what he wanted to do,” she said.

Country singer Cody Johnson is also interviewed in the film, discussing Frost’s influence on his life and why it is important to continue telling his story.

The final moments of the trailer show an interview with Dr. Skip Ross, a Cheyenne physician who was the arena doctor at the rodeo when Frost was killed.

Despite Frost’s young age when he died, he has been memorialized in various media over the last 30 years. The film “8 Seconds” was based on his life and starred the late Luke Perry as Frost. Garth Brooks paid tribute to him in the 1990 song “The Dance.”

Frost has a commemorative statue at Cheyenne Frontier Days, as well.

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Garth Brooks Cancels Remainder of Shows Due to COVID

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Sometimes it’s good to be ahead of the curve.

Wyoming residents who got to see Garth Brooks in concert are fortunate that Cheyenne Frontier Days is held in July.

The country superstar announced on Wednesday that he is canceling the remainder of his stadium tour dates due to COVID concerns.

“I sincerely thought the pandemic was falling behind us. Now, watching this new wave, I realize we are still in the fight and I must do my part,” Brooks said. “So, it is with a heavy heart we announce the decision to cancel all 5 shows but with a hopeful heart, we will reschedule and start over when this wave seems to be behind us.”

The five affected concerts include stops in Nashville, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Baltimore, and Boston.

As for his appearance in the Cowboy State, Brooks has said that Cheyenne Frontier Days is his favorite place to play and reiterated that after the July 23 show in Cheyenne.

“Still the ‘Daddy of ’em all’ Cheyenne. You are forever THE KING. all my gratitude, love, and respect,” Brooks tweeted.

Reactions to the cancellation were mixed on social media channels, from those who said they understood why Brooks made the decision to those who seemed convinced he was part of a conspiracy, and even to those who still believe COVID is a hoax.

“I respect your decision to cancel the Gillette Stadium show and help keep us fans safe, I will be definitely getting tickets again when you do come back,” tweeted Caitlyn Sherry.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. Garth Brooks knew damn well he was going to cancel these shows weeks ago. No way he should have played the last 2 in KC and Lincoln and re evaluate” He did it for money and zero other reason. Plain and simple,” Justin Goodman said.

“This all over a little cough? I will never listen to his music again, no thanks,” wrote Walt Ferguson.

Brooks would probably disagree with Ferguson’s “diagnosis” of COVID. His wife, Trisha Yearwood, told People magazine that he was very concerned over her well-being when she came down with the virus.

“He would not stay away from me,” Yearwood said. “You have to go quarantine on the other side of the house [but] he would not do it. He was really worried about me. He took really good care of me, but he drove me crazy.”

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Cheyenne Frontier Days Sees Dramatic Increase In Attendance This Year

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Cheyenne Frontier Days new headquarters

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Attendance at Cheyenne Frontier Days events this year increased by almost 23% over the last year the rodeo was held, the organization reported on Sunday.

A record number of 267,369 rodeo and concert tickets were sold over the 10-day period, an increase of 22.6% over the 2019 rodeo and rivaling the 100th anniversary in 1996. Both Saturday rodeos and the Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton concerts were sold out.

“After missing a year, it was amazing to see how our volunteers and everyone involved came together to produce a fantastic event,” said Jimmy Dean Siler, CFD general chairman. “I can’t say thank you enough to the fans, competitors, performers and volunteers and most of all this great Cheyenne community.”                                              

Rodeo attendance through nine performances was 111,617 compared to 97,373 in 2019, an increase of over 14%. Total attendance for Frontier Nights concerts and events was 155,618 compared to 120,518 in 2019, a 29% increase.

The total number of people entering Frontier Days Park increased as well, but official numbers were not immediately available because there was no cost to enter the rodeo grounds during much of the event.

The 2021 rodeo had 1,403 contestants competing for over $1 million in prize money.

At the championship final rodeo on Sunday, 14,925 fans witnessed history when reigning all-around champion Stetson Wright won his second consecutive title, the first time in more than 60 years a cowboy competing from the bucking chutes has done that.

Frontier Days officials said the week’s four parades through downtown Cheyenne were extremely well attended and two of those parades were broadcast by the Cowboy Channel. In addition, the three pancake breakfasts held near the Union Pacific depot saw 19,025 meals served and approximately 50,000 people visited the Indian Village on the rodeo grounds. 

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performed Wednesday over F.E. Warren Air Force Base to a crowd of approximately 5,756 people in attendance on base. 

This year’s Frontier Days was dedicated to Chris LeDoux, the country music star who competed in Frontier Days rodeos before making it big in music.

Garth Brooks and Ned LeDoux, LeDoux’s son, spoke at the dedication of the bigger-than-life bronze statue of LeDoux titled Just LeDoux It that was added to Frontier Park this year to commemorate the event’s 125th anniversary.

This year, CFD organizers introduced a clear bag policy, encouraged the use of digital tickets and increased sanitation stations to make the event as safe as possible for everyone involved. 

An estimated 6,000 animals made their way through the rodeo arena, parades and the bull riding. All animals are checked multiple times throughout the day with their health and welfare being of primary concern.

CFD veterinarians treated seven animals and all but two were expected to make a full recovery. 

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Cheyenne Serves Up Thousands Of Pancakes At CFD Breakfasts

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By Ellen Fike, For the Wyoming Tribune Eagle

There were still 30 minutes to go before the first Cheyenne Frontier Days pancake breakfast began, but people streamed through the Cheyenne Depot Plaza to get in line. 

It had been two years since anyone could gather in the plaza for breakfast and everyone was anxious to be back. 

By the time the first pancakes were served at 7 a.m., hundreds of people from all over the country and even the world gathered in a line that stretched all the way past the depot and for many blocks back on 15th Street. 

Families with young children rubbing the sleep from their eyes lined the street, craning their necks to get a better look at the handful of chefs flipping hundreds, if not thousands, of pancakes early Monday morning. 

Wil Tenacchio, who recently moved to Cheyenne, decided to come to the pancake breakfast following his workout Monday morning. This was his first time attending a breakfast, and intended to report back to his wife and daughter (who are moving to the city next month) about it. 

“I love pancakes. I mean, it’s cake and it’s free,” he joked. “It’s really interesting to see how quickly the line has been moving, considering how many people are in it.” 

Tenacchio intended to bring his family to Frontier Days next year so they could experience all of the events together, such as the parade, Military Monday and of course, the pancake breakfast. 

“I think [the breakfast and Frontier Days] is a great opportunity to meet your community,” he said. “I know some of us are coming from out-of-state, but this is just a great opportunity to meet your neighbors and experience a little bit of what Cheyenne has to offer.” 

The closer a person could get to the plaza, the more they could take in: the smell of the pancakes cooking on the large griddles, the music, the excited chatter of the people around them, the questions from young children about how many pancakes they could have. 

Once in line, the process of getting breakfast is streamlined: you’re given silverware wrapped in a napkin, three pancakes, then two pats of butter, then syrup, then ham, then either coffee, milk or water. 

This year, there was an added bonus of a small container of blueberries for breakfast. 

Once inside the plaza, scores of benches filled the area, giving the audience plenty of seats to sit back, eat their breakfast and watch the band perform songs such as Garth Brooks’ “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old).” 

By the end of the week, volunteers from the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club and the local Boy Scouts will have served more than 100,000 pancakes, 630 pounds of butter, 475 gallons of syrup, cooked 3,000 pounds of ham, served 9,200 cartons of milk and 520 gallons of coffee.

Melinda and Ethan Morton of Alabama were also attending the pancake breakfast for the first time on Monday. The family attended CFD as a military family, and even participated during the first parade on Saturday morning. 

Melinda Morton had a souvenir program in her hand, noting she wanted to collect more of them to send to her friends back home. She had even bought a pair of cowboy boots and a hat to get more into the western spirit. 

“Some of them have [Frontier Days] on their bucket list, so I want to mail these to them and say that they definitely have to make the trip out here,” she said. “I would definitely love to come back here and bring more people, bring more family.”

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Cowboy State Daily Tries Unique Foods At Cheyenne Frontier Days

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Cheyenne Frontier Days carnival food

In keeping with Cowboy State Daily’s tradition of educating its readers to fine culinary opportunities, here is a look at some of the more unique fare available at the 2021 Cheyenne Fronter Days Rodeo as sampled by Ellen Fike.

Person Run Over, Killed At Cheyenne’s Frontier Park

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A person was run over and killed Tuesday at the park where Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo is held.

The Cheyenne Police Department said the incident occurred around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and happened when a male passenger was attempting to exit the bed of a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. The vehicle’s driver entered Gate V12 from the Hynds Street and slowed to a stop with the flow of traffic.

As the truck was stopped, the male passenger began to exit the truck bed, lost his footing and fell to the ground.

The driver moved forward with traffic, running over the passenger.

The victim suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken by ambulance to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver remained on scene to assist officers with the investigation.

The gate will remain closed on Tuesday as officers continue to investigate the incident.

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Cheyenne Airport Won’t Open For Cheyenne Frontier Days

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Cheyenne’s airport will not be open for the the 2021 Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, airport officials announced Tuesday.

Nathan Banton, the airport’s deputy director, said a cement shortage has left the airport unable to complete a runway reconstruction project in time for Frontier Days, which runs from July 23 to Aug. 1.

Airport officials had hoped to complete the project in time for the rodeo, but the shortage of cement has pushed back that timeline.

“What nobody could have predicted is a national supply issue with the low-alkaline cement needed to finish the runway project safely,” Banton said.

The news came after United Express, SkyWest Airlines, the airport and Frontier Days had reached a deal to bring three flights a day from Denver to Cheyenne throughout the rodeo. Each jet making the trip would have a capacity of 50 people.

“We were going to run some volume and the bookings were already looking good,” Banton said.

News of the airport’s closure is disappointing, but still a minor development compared to last year’s cancellation of Cheyenne Frontier Days because of the coronavirus pandemic, said Tom Hirsig, CEO for the rodeo.

“In the big picture, it’s not as disappointing as not being able to have a show,” he said. “I’m glad we get to have a show.

The extra flights would have brought a maximum of 150 visitors to the event, Hirsig said.

“That’s not a great impact,” he said. “It’s disappointing they can’t make it work, but I don’t ever second-guess anybody.”

The Cheyenne Airport has been closed since mid-April, when the reconstruction project began.

The closure came about five months after service between Cheyenne and Denver launched in November. Prior to that, the airport served only Dallas-Fort Worth, a route that was closed last spring because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of people flying to Cheyenne for past Frontier Days rodeos was not immediately available. However, during 2019, a total of 16,696 people boarded airplanes at the Cheyenne Regional Airport, according the Federal Aviation Administration.

The runway reconstruction project is part of a $60 million improvement project which includes full-depth pavement replacement, lighting enhancements, repairs and other upgrades.

Airport officials now hope to resume service by Labor Day, Banton said, adding officials are working to determine how service might be resumed at the airport after the reconstruction is completed.

Airport officials now hope to resume service by Labor Day, Banton said, adding officials are working to determine how service might be resumed at the airport after the reconstruction is completed.

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Blake Shelton Sells Out Cheyenne Frontier Days Concert

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A second Cheyenne Frontier Days night show concert has officially sold out, officials announced Monday.

No tickets for Blake Shelton’s concert were available as of Monday, following the example set by ticket sales for fellow CFD headliner Garth Brooks, whose concert sold out in under an hour when tickets went on sale last month. CFD officials announced this update on their Twitter account.

The shows are bookending the return of Frontier Days, which was canceled last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic. Brooks will open the night shows on July 23 while Shelton will close the series on July 31.

Shelton was originally slated to perform at the 2020 “Daddy of ’em All” along with headliners Eric Church and Thomas Rhett, but ultimately the show was rescheduled due to the pandemic.

Those in Cheyenne or Laramie County still have the opportunity to get tickets, though. The Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department is offering two tickets to each of the night shows (except for the Brooks show) in a raffle for those who get vaccinated against the coronavirus in May and June.

Tickets are also available for all the other night shows, which include:

  • July 24: Thomas Rhett with Rhett Akins, the singer’s father
  • July 25: Cody Johnson with Aaron Watson
  • July 28: Maren Morris with an opening act to be announced
  • July 29: Eric Church with Ashley McBryde
  • July 30: Kane Brown with Restless Road

CFD intends to return to full capacity this summer with no mask requirements for attendees.

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Laramie County Health Dept Offers Cheyenne Frontier Days Tix to Vaccinate People

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department is using the lure of live music to encourage people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The department and Cheyenne Frontier Days have partnered to offer, through a raffle, a free pair of Cheyenne Frontier Days concert tickets to one person who gets vaccinated sometime between May and June. Everyone who gets vaccinated through the Health Department will be entered in the drawing.

The raffle winner will be drawn June 30.

It wasn’t clear which concert the tickets would be for, or if the winner would have a choice. And we can’t guarantee you’ll be able to see Garth Brooks this way.

However, there are tickets available for all the other night shows, which include:

  • July 24: Thomas Rhett with Rhett Akins, the singer’s father
  • July 25: Cody Johnson with Aaron Watson
  • July 28: Maren Morris with an opening act to be announced
  • July 29: Eric Church with Ashley McBryde
  • July 30: Kane Brown with Restless Road
  • July 31: Blake Shelton with John King

The Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department raffle follows the lead of other cities and states that have offered all types of incentives to get people vaccinated against the coronavirus, including offering free donuts, alcohol and even scholarships or $1 million, as is the case in Ohio, according to CNN.

A Walmart in Georgia offered a $200 gift card to employees who got vaccinated by a certain date. The University of Wyoming has also entered its vaccinated employees into drawings for free AirPods, iPads and an Apple Watch and given employees who report their vaccinations an extra personal day off.

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