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Cheyenne Frontier Days

AirBnb Lodgings Up 200% For Cheyenne Frontier Days; Houses Going For $1,800 Per Night

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

“There aren’t many places left in Cheyenne, so now’s a good time to book,” the top of the AirBnb website reads on Tuesday morning.

With less than a month to go until the 126th annual “Daddy of ’em All,” hotels and AirBnbs are nearly booked solid for the 10-day rodeo and concert event and bookings have increased dramatically from previous levels.

The 24 available listings on AirBnb from July 22 to July 30 will cost Cheyenne visitors thousands of dollars for a weeklong stay. Even one night could cost up to $500, when taxes and various AirBnb fees are added in.

“Prices, supply and demand are all up across the board when compared to the same time in 2021 and 2019,” Chloé Garlaschi of AirDNA told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “It looks like Cheyenne Frontier Days will attract a big crowd in 2022.”

AirDNA tracks short-term rental data analytics for Vrbo and AirBnb.

Most of the available listings on AirBnb in Cheyenne are full homes with anywhere from one to four bedrooms open for visitors. These homes could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 for eight days at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

“Peaceful and centrally-located place. The house has 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, full kitchen, 2 family rooms and laundry. Cheyenne Frontier Days park is just a little over a mile away!” a listing for a house that would cost almost $9,000 for eight days of stay reads.

“Half mile from Frontier Park! This fully furnished and equipped home sleeps 8 with three bedrooms, a queen pullout couch and two full bathrooms. Minutes walk to enjoy Cheyenne Frontier Days without the hassle of parking or getting to and from places. Includes a 2 car garage for parking (with additional front parking), outdoor patio w/ bbq and cornhole. Home will be fully functional to cook and entertain in!” a listing for a house that would cost around $9,300 to stay in for eight days reads.

Cheyenne resident Chris Karajanis told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that he would be renting his home, which sleeps 10 people, and a condominium out on AirBnb for the first time this year.

“We were thinking, ‘Make hay while the sun shines’ and we may end up doing this every year,” he said. “I haven’t missed a Cheyenne Frontier Days in my life and I’m 53, but also, I’m 53 and I’ve kind of done it.”

The 4,000 square foot home is being rented on AirBnb for $1,800 per night. So far, he has the two weekends booked up at his home, as well as some dates for his condo.

Next year, he may even consider renting his camper out, but he and his family will be using it during the portion of CFD when they’re in town.

“I’m not worried about the liability, because AirBnb takes care of a lot of things, plus my dad lives across the street and my neighbors are all friends,” Karajanis said. “They can’t party any more than we have. We’ll have 125 people over for Christmas, so a group of anywhere from four to 10 people will be fine.”

Garlaschi said that as of Tuesday, bookings are up 188% for the week of July 18 compared to the same time in 2019 and 40% higher than last year. Cheyenne Frontier Days was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Available AirBnb listings in Cheyenne have been added over the last three years, Garlaschi said, and the supply is up by 155% compared to 2019 and up 47% compared to 2021.

“The average daily rate is also up between 35% and 37% through [the week of July 18] and [the week of July 25] compared to the same time in 2019, with a slightly minor hike when compared to 2021 data, 19% for week 29, 28% for week 30,” she said.

Even staying in a camper through AirBnb could rack up a bill of nearly $4,000, although a $500 discount is available for committing to a week-long stay.

“Come stay on the Prairie! See the Wyoming sunsets! We have our 2020 40 ft 5th wheel all set up for you and your guests to stay in right next to our home,” the listing reads. “Complete with inside privacy. Free parking. Full shower and bath. We welcome pets. The 5th wheel has two full bedrooms and a loft. All cooking and camping supplies provided including outdoor chairs. Large awning. A master bedroom with a king bed. A twin bed bunk room and a queen loft. 3 large TVs. High speed Wi-Fi. Cooler available.”

This year’s Cheyenne Frontier Days will run from July 22 to July 31 and will feature its world-famous rodeo, the carnival, food and retail vendors and concerts featuring some of country’s biggest acts, including Brooks and Dunn, Jason Aldean and Dierks Bentley. Kid Rock and Nelly will also perform at different concerts during the event.

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Brooks & Dunn, Jason Aldean To Headline 2022 Cheyenne Frontier Days’ Night Shows

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Country music superstars Brooks and Dunn and Jason Aldean will be just two of the headliners at this year’s Cheyenne Frontier Days night show.

Tickets for the Frontier Nights concerts will go on sale March 16.

The concert lineup, which was announced Thursday by CFD officials, will be:

July 22: Jason Aldean with Gabby Barrett

July 23: Dierks Bentley with Chancey Williams

July 24: Parker McCollum with Ian Munsick & Brett Kissel

July 27: Kid Rock with Night Ranger

July 28: Koe Wetzel, Jelly Roll and Nelly

July 29: Sam Hunt with Russell Dickerson

July 30: Brooks & Dunn with Elvie Shane

Barrett, the opener for Aldean, finished third place on the 16th season of “American Idol.” She has released one album, “Goldmine,” and has had a major crossover hit with her song “I Hope,” which was the most streamed-country song of 2020 and considered one of the best songs of the year by The Associated Press and Billboard.

Aldean has been one of the biggest artists in country music since his debut in 2007. He has been awarded the Academy of Country Music’s biggest awards and named Entertainer of the Year three times. Several of his albums have sold more than 1 million copies. Some of his biggest hits include “Dirt Road Anthem,” “You Make It Easy,” and “Night Train.” This will be Aldean’s fifth time performing at CFD.

Williams is a Moorcroft native and only one of two men to have performed both in the CFD rodeo and on the main stage at the CFD concert, the other being the late Chris LeDoux. He has released five albums, the most recent of which being 2020’s “3rd Street.”

Bentley has been a staple in country music for almost 20 years, gaining notice with his self-titled debut album in 2003. Some of his biggest hits include “Come a Little Closer,” “Drunk on a Plane” and “What Was I Thinkin’.” This will be his fourth time performing at CFD.

Kissel has gained a following in his home country of Canada, but is now breaking through in the United States with songs like “Airwaves.” He has previously opened for artists such as Garth Brooks and Brad Paisley.

Like Williams, Munsick is also a Wyoming native playing on the main CFD stage. His album “Coyote Cry” was his major label debut, with the single “Long Haul” getting a good amount of attention.

McCollum has been declared an artist to watch by the “Rolling Stone” staff and made his debut performing at the Grand Ole Opry last year. Some of his most popular songs include “Pretty Heart” and “To Be Loved By You.”

Night Ranger has performed on more than 4,000 stages and have sold more than 17 million albums over their decades-long career. They have recorded some of the biggest hits of the 1980s, which are still played today, including “Sister Christian,” “Don’t Tell Me Your Love Me” and “Four in the Morning.”

Kid Rock has been performing and entertaining crowds since the late 1990s, both as a singer and an actor. He has sold more than 26 million albums over his career, and released hits such as “Bawitdaba,” “Cowboy,” “Picture” and “All Summer Long.” This will be his third time performing at CFD.

Jelly Roll is a rapper/vocalist/songwriter who is particularly popular on social media. He has worked with rappers such as Juicy J and DJ Paul from Three 6 Mafia, as well as Lil Wyte and Haystak. His music mixes genres, like Southern rock, R&B and country music.

Nelly is one of the biggest-selling artists of the 2000s, and although he is a rapper, he is no stranger to country music. The rapper has worked with Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line throughout his career to much commercial success. Some of his biggest hits include “Country Grammar,” “Hot In Herre” and “Shake Ya Tailfeather.”

Koe Wetzel is known for fusing outlaw country and rock music, and has released four albums during his career. He has accumulated more than 100 million views and streams across various platforms.

Dickerson is a singer-songwriter who has been making waves in the country music scene since 2017. He has received several award nominations, and has released singles such as “Never Gets Old” and “Love You Like I Used To.”

Hunt is a multi-platinum selling artist who has coupled this with significant critical acclaim. His album, “Southside,” was named one of the best albums of 2020 by publications such as “The New York Times” and “Us Weekly.” His biggest hits include “Body Like a Back Road,” “Kinfolks” and “Hard to Forget.”

Shane also has “American Idol” roots, but was eliminated early on in the contest. Since he was signed in 20020, he has gained one major hit, “My Boy,” and released an album last fall. His influences are Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam.

Brooks and Dunn are legends in country music, and have been for years. They got their start in 1990 and have churned out hits for more than 15 years before the duo retired in 2010. However, they reunited five years later and have been playing music ever since. They have won several Grammy awards and even helped re-popularize line dancing in the 1990s with their massive hit, “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” Some of their other biggest songs include “My Maria,” “Ain’t Nothing ’bout You” and “Hard Workin’ Man.” This will be their fifth time performing at CFD.

Concert ticket prices range from $54 to $105, with rooftop seats starting at $175.

Daily rodeo tickets range from $18 – $43, rooftop starts at $80. Professional bull riding tickets range from $25 to $105 with special elite seating and V.I.P. tickets also available at various prices.

A $3 discount is offered on rodeo tickets and $5 discount on concert tickets purchased before July 1. 

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Report: 2021 Cheyenne Frontier Days Generated $40M In Spending, Mayor Celebrates

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins celebrated the news on Tuesday that Cheyenne Frontier Days helped generate more than $40 million in economic activity in Cheyenne and Laramie County in 2021.

An economic impact report released Tuesday showed that economic impacts resulting from direct visitor spending related to CFD in 2021 totaled approximately $40.3 million, up from $27.1 million in 2018 and $28 million in 2015.

“Anecdotally, we felt the 125th ‘Daddy of ‘Em All’ was a big success,” Collins told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “Everything felt back to normal last July. After the heartbreak of cancelling CFD in 2020, it brought a smile to my face seeing our large crowds return to celebrate the world’s largest outdoor rodeo.”

“CFD’s economic impact report goes to show our anecdotal thoughts were right on point,” Collins continued. “The economic impact grew from previous studies and once again shows the importance of this event for the city, county, state and the Rocky Mountain region. The 125th ‘Daddy of ‘Em All’ was one for the books and one I’ll never forget as it was my first as Mayor. I can hardly wait until the 126th ‘Daddy of ‘Em All’ this summer.” 

A total of 272,896 tickets for all events were sold.

The report said that visitors spent approximately $7.9 million on food and beverages in Laramie County restaurants and bars, $7.6 million on overnight accommodations, $12.7 million on entertainment and recreations, including tickets to rodeos, concerts and other events, and $12.1 million on retail purchases, including gas and groceries.

“We saw large crowds almost every day on Frontier Park and around the community,” Cheyenne Frontier Days Chief Executive Officer Tom Hirsig said Tuesday. “We were happy to see so many people wanted to come out and celebrate the anniversary year with us and the Cheyenne community. The number of visitors this year surpassed our wildest expectations.”

Other direct economic impacts included approximately 509 full and part-time jobs paying $9.6 million, $920,400 in local tax revenue and $1.5 million in state tax revenue.

The majority of those attending Frontier Days, about 75%, did so to attend a night concert, the study showed, while around 55% attended the rodeo. Thirty percent of the attendees went to both a concert and the rodeo.

A large portion of visitors, 64%, attended CFD during a previous year.

“Our volunteers really stepped up to support Cheyenne and Laramie County with our celebration this year, and we had even less time to prepare than ever,” said Jimmy Dean Siler, the rodeo’s general chairman.  “We are proud of our collaboration with city and county officials to host visitors who came to experience a taste of the American West.”

Most of the overnight guests during the 10-day rodeo held the last week of July — 81% — came to Cheyenne for the rodeo. An even bigger share of daytime visitors — 98% — were in Cheyenne for the rodeo.

Just over half of the overnight visitors, 51%, stayed in a hotel, motel, lodge or bed and breakfast. Most of the remainder stayed in private homes with friends and relatives or in campgrounds.

Cheyenne Frontier Days attendees also traveled to or through a number of Wyoming communities and places including Laramie, Casper, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson, the Snowy Range and Cody. 

“We had tremendous support from our city, county and state leaders to help us produce our event during a confusing and constantly changing pandemic landscape. We could not have done it without their guidance and support,” Hirsig said.

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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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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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Cowboy Skill Games Honors Wyoming Deputy Sheriff Who Saved Two Women From Drowning

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More than 20,000 people gave Natrona County Deputy Sheriff Dexter Bryant a standing ovation on Saturday as Cheyenne Frontier Days paused the rodeo in order to salute his heroism.

Bryant, a guest of Cowboy Skill Games of Wyoming, was asked to stand in front of the sell-out crowd as the rodeo announcer thanked him for saving the lives of two drowning women earlier in the month on the North Platte River.

“The Natrona County Sheriff said Bryant saved two lives that day because of his immediate heroic actions,” rodeo announcer Garrett Yeriga announced to the applauding crowd.

“Ladies and gentlemen today we present to you, Natrona County Deputy Sheriff’s Officer Dexter Bryant.  Tell him that he’s a hero!” Yeriga said.

“Deputy Bryant, God bless you and thank you for your selfless and heroic act of service,” he said.

Bryant, who stood for more than a minute as the capacity crowd thanked him, was invited to the rodeo as a guest of Cowboy Skill Games, a top-level sponsor of Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Bryant, and his wife Amy, enjoyed the rodeo and the Blake Shelton concert later that evening.

Earlier in the week, Cowboy Skill Games hosted two F.E. Warren Air Force Base airmen who saved a kidnapped child from an armed fugitive. Like Dexter, they received public commendation during the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo.

According to reports, on Saturday afternoon, the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office dispatch received a report about an inflatable raft carrying five people down the North Platte River that had been punctured and sank.

Of the five people onboard the raft, none were using safety flotation devised. One person swam safely to shore and two managed to climb onto an island in the river.

The remaining two women grabbed onto branches overhanging the river from a tree on the island. However, they were unable to get onto the island due to its steep bank, a swift current and their lack of energy.

Bryant was the first to arrive on scene and began communicating with the two women in the water. One was running out of energy and couldn’t hang onto the branch much longer and her friend was afraid the woman would drown if she let go.

Bryant knew immediate action was critical to the situation and couldn’t wait for responding watercraft. He removed his vest, gun belt and boots before putting on a life-jacket and swimming to the island.

He then pulled both women out of the water and onto the island. Eventually, everyone was reunited on the shore with the help of fire personnel and their watercraft.

“I am exceedingly proud of  Deputy Bryant,” Natrona County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Bahr said. “I believe he no doubt saved at least one, if not two lives today. This was a great representation of the selflessness of one of our deputies,  and it was a superb exemplification of the professionalism and superior competency of this office.”

Undersheriff John Harlin described Bryant’s actions as “incredible heroism that should be recognized.” Bryant has been with the department for more than three years.

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Cowboy Skill Games & Cheyenne Frontier Days Honors Wyoming Airmen Who Saved Kidnapped Child

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Cheyenne Frontier Days and Cowboy Skill Games of Wyoming on Monday honored two Wyoming airmen from F.E. Warren Air Force Base whose quick actions led to the rescue of a kidnapped child from an armed fugitive.

Airman Suzanne Pedro and Airman First Class Frank Shaw were honored guests in the Cowboy Skill Games sponsor box at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo as part of the rodeo’s “Military Appreciation Monday.”

Paul Goldean, a combat veteran of the 75th Ranger Regiment who is now president of Pace-O-Matic, the company which develops and distributes Cowboy Skill games, said Pedro and Shaw’s story was so inspiring he wanted to draw attention to it.

“We invited many soldiers to join us this week for Cheyenne Frontier Days. But Airmen Pedro and Shaw’s heroic actions really stood out. They are true American heroes and are exemplary of our military,” Goldean said.

According to the U.S. Air Force, while Pedro was guarding the gate at F.E. Warren AFB, a driver who was trying to get onto the base presented her with an unusual form of identification.

When the man and child in the vehicle refused to make eye contact with the airman, she quietly alerted her supervisors and wingmen on duty at the gate; the vehicle was subsequently detained.

It was then that the officers discovered the man was a fugitive and the child had been kidnapped since December, 2020.

During Monday’s rodeo, announcer Garrett Yerigan recognized Pedro and Shaw for their actions, prompting a standing ovation by 15,000 people attending the third performance of the 10-day rodeo.

Cowboy Skill Games hosted dozens of soldiers and sailors in its sponsor boxes on Monday. They were joined by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, First Lady Jennie Gordon, Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins, and Vice-Admiral Sean Buck, US Navy.

Pedro and Shaw were joined in the Cowboy Skill Games sponsor box by fellow U.S. Air Force service members including:

Senior Airman Joshua Morales, 90th Missile Maintenance Squadron
Airman 1st Class Zachery Ravlin, 90th Civil Engineer Squadron
Airman 1st Class Frank Shaw, 90th Security Forces Squadron
Capt. Stephanie Sanchez, 90th Operations Support Squadron
Airman 1st Class Skylar Reno, 90th Missile Wing Judge Advocate
Airman 1st Class Zachery Ravlin, 90th Civil Engineer Squadron

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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.

Wyoming Rodeo Hero Chris LeDoux Celebrated With Statue At Cheyenne Frontier Days

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
“You think you’re a tough cowboy,
We’ll find out in the end
When that final whistle blows 
And the stock’s all in the pen.”
– Chris LeDoux, “National Finals Rodeo

He was Wyoming’s cowboy. 

And Chris LeDoux is being forever memorialized at the “Daddy Of ‘Em All” this year with a bronze statue celebrating his career placed at Frontier Park in Cheyenne.

The massive bronze statue of LeDoux, made by Buffalo sculptor D. Michael Thomas and titled “Just LeDoux It,” was placed at its permanent home at Frontier Park in June and will be unveiled in a ceremony coinciding with the opening of Frontier Days on July 23.

The sculpture depicts the rodeo and music star on a bucking bronc, with a guitar nearby to honor both of LeDoux’s passions.

“When I read (the) book ‘Gold Buckle Dreams’ (detailing LeDoux’s life in the rodeo), I thought that was the pose,” said Thomas. “And he needs to be here, as part of his legacy.”

Chris LeDoux graduated from Cheyenne Central High School and went to Casper College on a rodeo scholarship before competing at both Cheyenne Frontier Days and the Cody Nite Rodeo. He was also a rancher in Kaycee.

But LeDoux wasn’t just any rodeo cowboy — he was a darned good one. In 1976 he was crowned the world bareback riding champion at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City.

He retired from the circuit four years later – but by then he had caught the attention of the music industry.

To pay for his “rodeo habit,” LeDoux started selling homemade tapes of his rodeo-themed songs from the back of his pickup truck on the rodeo circuit in the 1970s. By the mid-1980s, he had already sold more than 250,000 albums, all of them self-released. 

LeDoux became a national star when Garth Brooks dropped his name in his hit song “Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old.”

The two went on to collaborate on the top 10 hit “Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy.”

LeDoux’s career was cut short when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and the illness claimed his life in March of 2005.

A statue in memory of the star has been at the forefront of Thomas’ mind for the last few years — and placing the 12.5-foot tall, 17-foot long monument at Frontier Park is appropriate, according to the sculptor.

“You know, he went to high school there, he was a standout football player for Cheyenne Central,” Thomas explained. “He first rodeoed in Cheyenne at the ‘Daddy Of ‘Em All’ in 1968, and then they informed him that he was going to be a headline performer in 1993. And he famously said, ‘Whoa, Cheyenne? That’s like playing at the Grand Ole Opry to me.’”

Thomas’ statue portrays LeDoux wearing a Frontier Days contestant number 125 on his back to honor the event’s 125th anniversary. The life-and-a-half sized bronze was cast in Cody at Caleco Foundry. 

Bob Goton, the general manager at the Foundry, said the large statue weighs over 3,500 pounds and it is made of around 100 small pieces that were individually sculpted, cast and welded together before the final process created the massive statue that balances on the horse’s  front two legs.

“The man hours on that one, it had to be a little over 400 hours,” Goton recalled. “It was roughly around a two year project.”

Thomas pointed out that the tint of the bronze is unique and was selected carefully during the bronzing process. 

“The gal that does the patinas at Caleco foundry, Trish, she just kind of came up with this that will last outside,” Thomas said. “So it should be good to go for hopefully 15-20 years.”

Thomas said his primary goal with the monument was to make sure LeDoux’s family approved.

“My biggest concern was that it looked like him,” Thomas told Cowboy State Daily.

“I’m just pleased that (Frontier Days Chief Executive Officer) Tom Hirsig got ahold of me about two and a half years ago and told me his plan, that he wanted to honor Chris Ledoux for the 125th,” he said. “And we were just all-in at that point. It’s been, of course, a challenge because there’s so many committees and so many people, but we’re getting her done, by God.”

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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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Garth Brooks Cheyenne Frontier Days Concert Sells Out In Minutes

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

If you were hoping to be one of the lucky people to get a ticket for Garth Brooks’ concert at Cheyenne Frontier Days in 2021, unless you acted within seconds of the time they went on sale, you’re out of luck.

Tickets for Brooks’ concert officially sold out minutes after they went on sale.

Not everyone was celebrating this, however, as many social media users claimed there was an issue with the ticketing system, causing them to be kicked off the page where they would purchase tickets.

Some commenters on CFD’s Facebook page even offered money to anyone who bought an extra ticket, hoping to be one of the people who will get to see Brooks’ return to Cheyenne this summer.

Some tickets will likely become available through scalping websites, but CFD officials have warned against buying tickets from anywhere other than the official CFD website or office.

Brooks has been teasing this concert for nearly a year, announcing last July that he would be one of the headliners for the rodeo’s concert series.

If you didn’t manage to get a ticket for Brooks, 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

Opening for Brooks will be Ned LeDoux, son of late country singer and rodeo cowboy, Chris LeDoux.

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Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton to Headline Cheyenne Frontier Days’ Night Shows

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton are among the headliners for this year’s Cheyenne Frontier Days’ night shows.

The entire headlining lineup was announced Thursday evening, just one day after CFD officials announced the “Daddy of ‘Em All” would be returning this summer at full capacity with no mask mandate for attendees.

The night show concert series will consist of:

  • July 23: Garth Brooks with Ned LeDoux
  • 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

“We are so glad to be sharing this lineup for 2021 tonight,” said Randy Krafft, chairman of the rodeo’s Contract Acts Committee.  “It has been a long year for all of us and we can’t wait to welcome our fans back to Frontier Park.”

Shelton, Church and Rhett were all rescheduled from the 2020 rodeo, since CFD was ultimately canceled last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s 125th celebration is dedicated to the memory of late country singer and former rodeo cowboy Chris LeDoux. A bronze statue of LeDoux will be added to the sculpture collection at Frontier Park.

Additionally, there will be nine days of professional rodeo, culminating in the championship on July 31.

The event will also feature hundreds of vendors, a full carnival, artists, food and music to celebrate the history and culture of the American West.

Tickets will go on sale at 9 a.m. on April 15 and can be purchased at www.cfdrodeo.com or by calling 307-778-7222. The ticket office won’t be open for in-person sales at this time.

Concert ticket prices range from $49 to $94, with rooftop seating starting at $150. Daily rodeo tickets range from $18 to $35.

A $3 discount is offered on rodeo tickets and $5 discount on concert tickets purchased before July 1. Professional Bullriders performance tickets range from $25 to $105, with special Elite Seating and VIP tickets also available at various prices.

Fans can upgrade to a Frontier Nights® Fast Pass for early admission to the Party Zone, a voucher for best-available same-day rodeo tickets and a souvenir rodeo program. For a full events schedule and profiles of musical acts, go to www.cfdrodeo.com.

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Cheyenne Frontier Days Is Back; 125th Anniversary Event Will Be Open at Full Capacity

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

People who lived in Cheyenne 45 years ago may remember the old Cheyenne Frontier Days theme song playing on the radio: “Cheyenne Frontier Days, here we go again. A big Wyoming showdown where the cowboy is the king.”

You could say the event is even more special now because the largest outdoor rodeo in the world was canceled for the first time in 124 years in 2020 due to the pandemic.  But it’s roaring back in 2021 for its 125th anniversary.

Gov. Mark Gordon made the announcement on Wednesday alongside Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins and Frontier Days CEO Tom Hirsig that the “Daddy of ‘Em All” is not only back, but at 100% capacity.

“Our big message that we want people to hear loud and clear today is that Wyoming is back and we are open for business,” Gordon said.

“It’s just good to see it back,” he said. “It’s just back stronger than ever. It feels like Wyoming is coming back to life.”

The 10-day event scheduled from July 23 to August 1 is a bucket list item for rodeo fans across the world and it appears as though the upcoming celebration will be pretty close to normal.

Hirsig said there would be some modifications in the interest of safety, but there will be no required face mask use, which is a significant announcement in itself. 

He said the organizations that contribute to Cheyenne Frontier Days, from night shows to the carnival to the rodeo itself, have all agreed to “vigorous” safety protocols.

“All of our events of Cheyenne Frontier Days take place on our 83-acre park in the clean, fresh air of Wyoming. Some days fresher than other days,” he said. “Cheyenne Frontier Days [will be a] very safe outdoor event,” he said.

“We are excited to get back to fulfilling our mission of economic impact to the community, and we look forward to safely welcoming our fans back to Frontier Park this summer,” Hirsig said.

The sizable bump to Cheyenne’s economy from the return of the rodeo was not lost on Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins who during last year’s mayoral campaign pledged to work closely with the organization.

“We are proud to welcome rodeo fans and visitors back to Cheyenne this July,” Collins said. “Our businesses look forward to hosting guests and locals alike as we work together to support our summer season.”

CFD officials said details about ticket sales and concert performers will be revealed Thursday evening, April 8.

Cheyenne Frontier Days takes place each summer during the last full week in July and features the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, drawing top professionals competing for more than $1 million in cash and prizes.

In addition to the daily rodeo action, fans can also enjoy Frontier Nights concerts featuring the biggest names in country music, the Native American Village, the old frontier town, free pancake breakfasts, an art show, a carnival midway, professional bull riding shows and downtown parades featuring antique carriages and automobiles. 

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Cheyenne Frontier Days, Other Locals Orgs Work To Help Victims Of Colorado Wildfires

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A number of organizations in Cheyenne are working together to help people in Colorado who have been displaced by wildfires.

Currently, there are eight wildfires burning across the state, but the two affecting northern Colorado are the Cameron Peak Fire (which has recently been declared as the largest in the state’s history) and the East Troublesome Fire.

The East Troublesome Fire has only popped up within the last week, but on Thursday, it forced the evacuation of much of the town of Estes Park. More evacuation notices are expected coming, as the fire is only at 5% containment.

But Cheyenne organizations, including Cheyenne Frontier Days, are offering up their services and help to those in need.

CFD CEO Tom Hirsig told Cowboy State Daily that the rodeo organization is offering up its grounds to anyone who needs to store their horses or livestock because of evacuation.

“We have things we can offer these people, so why not do it?” Hirsig said. “It’s already devastating enough that these people might lose their homes, but these poor animals have got to be terrified.”

CFD even posted the notice to its Facebook page, letting anyone know they could call 307-778-7263 for more information.

The offer is not unprecedented for CFD, as Hirsig noted that the rodeo has always been willing to offer up its stalls or corrals to farmers, ranchers or a cowboy/girl in need, but he said the offers have never reached this scale.

Currently, no one from Colorado has had to bring their animals to Cheyenne just yet (thanks to many of the northern Colorado livestock boards, who have been helping in the interim), but Hirsig hopes that people will take advantage of the opportunity, should it be needed.

“Cheyenne Frontier Days was founded on helping our community, and our community is bigger than just Cheyenne,” he said. “I think many organizations get caught up chasing the almighty dollar, but this just shows that things can be taken away in an instant. It’s a time in our world where we can see the good in people.”

Visit Cheyenne has also partnered with many of the hotels in the city to offer heavily discounted rates to those displaced by the fires.

The organization currently has a list of hotels and their discounted rates for wildfire victims, which will be updated.

“We are all praying for your safety and Cheyenne is willing to help in any way we can,” Visit Cheyenne wrote in a tweet.

Some of the firefighters from Laramie County Fire District No. 2 have been traveling to Loveland to help staff the fire station and give their Colorado colleagues a much-needed break, according to 9News from Denver.

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Jim Angell: Cheyenne Frontier Days “Frontier Fun Food Festival” Is High Point Of My Year

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The cloudy skies of my personal COVID-saturated 2020 parted just a bit this week as Cheyenne Frontier Days officials announced the return of the high point of my year.

Frontier Days announced that during Labor Day weekend, its food concessionaire will hold the “Frontier Fun Food Festival,” an opportunity to sample the ambrosia that is carnival food.

Now, it must be noted that I while I enjoy Frontier Days, I see it largely as life support for a bigger cause: the ability to get fine carnival food.

I won the best assignment in the world in 2019 when I was sent by Cowboy State Daily to sample and rank the 10 best carnival foods. I am the slightly rotund intrepid reporter seen in the video above consuming enough calories and cholesterol to incapacitate the average human.

I was crushed when the announcement came earlier this year that Frontier Days would be canceled — taking with it my shot at getting a genuine carnival corndog in 2020.

Thankfully, between Frontier Days and its new food concessionaire, Fun Biz Concessions, I will get my chance at that corndog after all.

On Sept. 3-7, Fun Biz Concessions will open booths at the Frontier Days Midway where people can sample the best of its selections: hot dogs, corndogs, deep-fried pickles, deep-fried Oreos, corndogs, deep-fried cookie dough, turkey legs, sausage on a stick, corndogs, fresh-squeezed lemonade, hamburgers, pork chops on a stick and, of course, corndogs. And, as they say on television, much, much more!

If there seems to be a pattern to the dishes listed above, it stems from my two personal rules regarding food:

Everything is better deep-fried, and

Every kind of food tastes better on a stick.

And so, sometime on Labor Day weekend, you will find me at the Frontier Days Midway, eyes glazed and probably holding onto a corndog or two.

However, if I am assigned to sample the fare, on the advice of my doctor, I will limit my samples to five.

Bon Appetit!

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Garth Brooks: “I Can’t Wait To See You For The 125th Cheyenne Frontier Days”

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If you are feeling a bit low because Cheyenne Frontier Days was canceled this year, here’s some good news.

One of the biggest country music stars ever sent CFD fans a message on Wednesday and it should help soothe those who are missing the biggest outdoor rodeo in the world.

In a YouTube video published on late Wednesday afternoon, Garth Brooks said he is looking forward to next year’s show.

“Hey Cheyenne, Garth Brooks here and I’m proud to say I cannot wait to see you for the 125th,” Brooks said.

The country star said he wears his 100th anniversary Cheyenne Frontier Days belt buckle all the time and is looking forward to wearing the 125th anniversary buckle.

Brooks said one of his favorite memories was the opportunity to play with Wyoming’s own Chris LeDoux.

“I can’t wait for the unveiling of the [Chris LeDoux] statue,” he said.

“Thanks for giving me some of the greatest moments of my life,” he said.  “And [memories] to come as well.”

“I love you guys. Cowboy up!”

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Spot Check Shows Most Hotels, Campgrounds Refunding Cheyenne Frontier Days Reservations

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By Ellen Fike and Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Even though Cheyenne hotels and campgrounds rely on the Frontier Days Rodeo for a large part of their annual income, most contacted by Cowboy State Daily are allowing people to cancel or change their reservations in the face of the event’s cancellation.

“It wasn’t the customer’s fault,” said Dave Nelson, an owner of Cheyenne’s KOA Campground. “We didn’t feel we had a choice.”

In late May, officials with six major Wyoming rodeos including Frontier Days announced the events would be canceled for the year because it would be impossible to maintain social distancing among crowds during the events.

Frontier Days, one of the largest outdoor rodeos in the world, brings thousands of visitors to Cheyenne in the last full week of July, many of whom reserve their accommodations a year in advance.

Nelson said he and his family didn’t feel they could hold their customers, including several who have stayed at his campground for multiple years, to their reservations in the absence of Frontier Days.

As a result, he said he contacted all of the customers who had reserved spaces for Frontier Days and told them they could get a full refund for their stay, come to Cheyenne and stay on the same days at a lower rate or roll their reservations forward to next year.

Nelson said while many people accepted the refund, others decided to take advantage of the lower rate and stay on the dates they had planned this year.

The arrangement is the same at Cheyenne’s Little America Hotel, a popular option for lodging during the rodeo.

Bradley Cannon, the hotel’s front office manager, said Little America’s management didn’t feel it was fair to charge people the full rate when the rodeo was canceled.

“We recognize so many of our guests are coming year after year, we didn’t feel it was fair,” he said.

Little America is offering guests with reservations the option of canceling for a full refund, staying at Little America for reduced rates this year or rolling their reservations over to 2021.

Cannon said about half of the guests decided to move their reservations to next year, while about 25% decided to visit Cheyenne as planned and about 25% canceled their reservations.

A.B. Camping and the Red Lion in Cheyenne are also offering full refunds and Brandi Voigtsberger, sales director for Red Lion, said most are simply accepting the refunds.

“Some people are wanting to move reservations to next year’s, but we’re doing more refunds and just telling people they can reschedule when they’re ready,” she said. “In my opinion, it’s just the right thing to do.”

Jane Harrington, who owns A.B. Camping with her husband Mark, said all the people who had reserved spots for Frontier Days have canceled and been given full refunds.

“So anybody coming in during that time is a brand new reservation and those are pretty slim,” she said.

One campground’s policies against refunds have met with some criticism, however.

Pat Jenkins, a Rock Springs resident who said he reserved five spaces for four days at the Terry Bison Ranch’s RV park, said he was not able to get a refund, stay at the ranch for a reduced rate or move his reservations to next year.

Terry Bison Ranch officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but the ranch’s website does specify it does not grant refunds.

The website also shows that the ranch’s overnight rate for the RV park more than doubles during Frontier Days, from $48 per night to $110.

“Nobody’s booking reservations for CFD dates for two and one-half times the original prices just to stay at the RV park on the interstate,” Jenkins said.

He added his group will lose a total of $2,500 to $2,700 on the reservations and would have welcomed the opportunity to move its reservations to 2021, but was not given the opportunity.

“We’re upset because this is an act of God, this pandemic,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “It’s not about the money, this is Wyoming, this isn’t how you treat people. It’s no one’s fault that this happened.”

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Jason Kintzler: Here’s How To Save Frontier Days In 2020

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By Jason Kintzler

Last week, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, along with rodeo officials from around the state, announced the cancellation of 6 major rodeos. The largest among them was Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Rodeo is certainly part of Wyoming’s fabric and drives millions of dollars in tourism revenue to various communities around the state each summer. Canceling these attractions will certainly leave a deep scar on the economy here which has already been devastated by a lethal combination of COVID-19 and a collapse oil and gas industry.

So, that got me thinking. How could we salvage the state’s largest event in some capacity while at the same time be building for the future? What if there was a way to leverage an iconic brand and pull the international rodeo community up by its collective bootstraps and saddle up for something different? 

Hold on, cowboy. We’re going digital.

PPV Cowboys

First, call all those rodeo cowboys and cowgirls, tip your hat, and set a date. Plan to host the CFD rodeo with no fans in the stands.

Instead, we’re going to build the biggest Pay Per View Rodeo event of all time.

Let’s reach out to RFD-TV and other networks who might be interested in carrying a portion of the rodeo or perhaps broadcast rights after the PPV.

Let’s build an international buzz about the Daddy of ‘Em All. This will take money and we’re going to need to leverage tourism dollars and other mechanisms, but we’ll get it done.

Think of this not as a Cheyenne or Wyoming initiative, but instead the entire rodeo world. We’re going to be the symbol for perseverance and cowboy tough because well, the World Needs More Cowboys.

And, if we believe this, then we need to put our money where our mouth is.

What’s more, this idea has been put in action already by the likes of the PBR and NASCAR. No fans, but a great viewing experience and brand exposure for sponsors and partners.

What about rodeo pay? What’s the purse? Sponsorship would kick in for winners, but the rest would come from PPV dollars similar to other sporting events. Participants would share in a cut (percentage) of the PPV draw. It’s a risk because we don’t know what it’s going to bring in just yet, but my guess is that’s a gamble these participants will gladly take. 


A rodeo in 2020 is about entertainment, so we’re going to need to liven things up in between events. Imagine how many musicians would support such a cause?

And, at a much lessor fee than an in person concert. Let’s rally the country music community and ask them to share live stream performances with us and our PPV audience worldwide. Garth Brooks, has always said he’s wanted to come back to CFD and perform. So, maybe he’ll do it virtually for another one of those rodeo buckles?

Local Economy

This is certainly a challenge, but there are ways we can help. We could use the event to solicit donations to the Wyoming Rodeo Community Foundation which could in turn, help local businesses that will be impacted by a lack of rodeo presence. Places like Cheyenne, Cody and Sheridan come to mind. We could also create a mechanism for people to see and purchase local products and services through the CFD website or similar. This can be flushed out further as things come together.

A Lasting Model

Perhaps the most exciting part of this is that this model could be scaled up and built for future events. It would create new revenue streams, new opportunities, and renewed enthusiasm in rodeo worldwide. Access to this type of event wouldn’t be just for those in attendance but for those watching around the world. Eventually, VR technology will enable an entirely different experience and we’ll be ready to capitalize.

This is just one guy’s idea and I’m sure there are a lot of holes and challenges I’m not considering. But bottom line, it’s most certainly 100% doable. And, if we’re going to hang our hats on a cause for the summer of 2020, I think this ranks right up there as an all-around viable option. 

Why do I care? I’m not a rodeo cowboy and I don’t stand to make a dollar of of rodeo tourism. However, I’m a Wyoming guy who loves his state and I’m absolutely motivated by people’s assumptions about “the way it works, or the way it is” and I can’t stand complacency. 

No cowboy or cowgirl I know has ever been satisfied with average. If we’re going to be great, we have to work at it. We have to grit our teeth and push on. 

Here in Wyoming, we’re born for it.

Jason Kintzler is a Wyoming native and the Founder and CEO of Lifekey, a wearable technology company and Pitchengine, a PR software platform. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Wyoming Business Council. 

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Cheyenne Frontier Days CEO: No Plans for Cancellation Yet

in News/Coronavirus/Economy

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

There will likely be no decision on canceling Cheyenne Frontier Days until at least late May or early June, CEO Tom Hirsig said Monday.

Hirsig, in a telephone interview with Cowboy State Daily, said rodeo officials are keeping track of conditions, but are still planning to proceed with the 10-day event.

“We’re still moving forward with all aspects of the show,” Hirsig said. “We’re like everyone else, sitting here waiting for clarification on the future. There’s just not enough information on how long this will last.”

“If the biggest outdoor rodeo in the world were to be canceled, it would be only in conjunction with city, county and state orders,” Hirsig said. “It’s going to take a lot to bring the ‘Daddy of ’em All’ down.”

In a fireside chat hosted by Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr on Friday evening, she noted that the coronavirus pandemic has already impacted the rodeo, which is scheduled for July 17 through 26.

Orr said she hoped the event wouldn’t be canceled.

“It would be really difficult for our community,” she said. “Economically, yeah, but it’s our spirit that it would hurt. Cheyenne Frontier Days has continued on through wars and depressions. For (the virus) to be the reason we didn’t have it in 125 years would hurt our soul.”

Hirsig joked that he was one of the people waiting to see what would happen with the summer event, but clarified that no ticket sales have been suspended and there are no plans to do so.

The Frontier Days ticketing offices are closed to the public, but people can still purchase rodeo or night show passes over the phone or online, he said.

Hirsig added that ticket sales haven’t been affected much by the pandemic and very few people have called to inquire about rescheduling, much to his surprise and relief.

CFD officials are meeting weekly to discuss event plans, Hirsig said. The virus has impacted the volunteer meetings, but Hirsig said he has faith in the dedicated crew that keeps Frontier Days running every year.

Over the last few years, the CFD officials’ biggest concerns have been related to violence and trying to beef up security. This year, they may have to reorganize their priorities, Hirsig said.

“I’m not sure how things will look in a post-virus world,” Hirsig said. “At an event like ours, you’d probably have to have twice as many hand sanitizers as there are now. We’d maybe have to disinfect the bleachers and the grandstands once or twice a day. I don’t know how things will look.”

Ultimately, Hirsig said he and other CFD officials will continue to follow the rodeo’s mission of providing a positive economic impact on the community, which he said runs from Cheyenne through the state and even into the Front Range.

“We have an economic impact of $26 million in our community alone and $40 million for the state,” Hirsig said. “We want to do everything in our power to safely fulfill that mission. We’re dedicated to doing that until it’s decided that it’s not safe to do so.”

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Bill Giving Cheyenne Frontier Days State Liquor License Becomes Law Without Governor’s Signature

in News
Cheyenne Frontier Days new headquarters

A measure aimed at resolving a dispute between Cheyenne and the Frontier Days Rodeo was allowed to take effect Friday without Gov. Mark Gordon’s signature.

Gordon declined to sign Senate File 134 because he said the state should not get involved in local disputes.

“As governor, I hold sacred the belief that governments govern best when they govern least and when they remain closest to the people,” he wrote in a letter explaining his action. “This bill interferes with local prerogative. Furthermore, it seeks to solve a problem that has not existed outside of one jurisdiction.”

The bill stems from a dispute between the city and the rodeo over the cost of security for the 10-day event.

Cheyenne officials have said they need some assistance paying the security costs and have said unless they can get some help, they might be forced to withhold the rodeo’s special event liquor license.

The bill will allow the organizers of large events such as Cheyenne Frontier Days to apply directly to the state for special event liquor licenses.

Gordon said he would allow the bill to become law, but wants the Legislature to avoid trying to solve local problems in the future.

“Should the Legislature craft statutory remedies for every dustup?” Gordon wrote. “That is a question that intransigence laid at the feet of the Legislature this year. It was answered broadly even though the issue was initially raised in only one circumstance. I sincerely hope this rebuke will provide a teachable moment for us and that this approach to solving local disputes will not become a norm or necessity.”

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Bill Would Let Frontier Days Bypass Cheyenne For Beer Sale Permits

in News/Tourism
Cheyenne Frontier Days

A legislative solution to a dispute between the city of Cheyenne and Cheyenne Frontier Days has been proposed by a state senator.

The city and organizers of the 10-day rodeo are debating the use of Cheyenne Police officers as security during the rodeo in July.

City officials have said that unless Frontier Days agrees to cover the cost of the security, estimated at $100,000 to $200,000 per year, the permit that allows the sale of beer at the rodeo grounds will be withheld.

As a result, Sen. Glenn Moniz, R-Laramie, has proposed a bill that would let Frontier Days buy a special event malt beverage permit directly from the state for $100.

“We have no qualms with public protection, we think it’s critical to the public safety of Cheyenne Frontier Days as well as they do,” he said. “But holding up their malt beverage permit because of that is, in my opinion, extortion.”

But Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr said many believe security should be paid for by Frontier Days, not with taxpayer dollars.

“And just from what we’ve seen on social media, the public really believes that this shouldn’t come out of taxpayer funds, that Cheyenne Frontier Days has the ability to pass along that cost to their attendees,” she said. “It’s a private event, it should be picked up privately.”

Orr said both sides in the dispute will meet to try reach a compromise.

Friends, admirers remember Frost on 30th anniversary of his death

in Community/arts and culture

Friends and admirers of the late bull rider Lane Frost shared their memories this week of Frost’s death in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo arena 30 years ago.

Frost was 25 years old when he died from injuries he suffered in the Frontier Days championship go-round of 1989. 

Dr. Skip Ross, a Cheyenne physician, said physicians and medics on hand at the rodeo could not understand why Frost did not stand up when he fell after dismounting the bull named “Takin’ Care of Business.” The bull had hit him in the back.

“It was an exciting finals day and Lane made a great ride,” he said. “We couldn’t figure out why he didn’t get up right away. The bull was standing on his chaps and kind of had him trapped. And he had one shot at him and hit him the left ribs.”

Ross said the ribs collapsed, tearing an aorta.

“I went in with the ambulance and worked on him for about an hour and a-half,” he said. 

“We really needed a chest cutter to open his chest and we didn’t have that. And you’d have to do that in the first five to 10 minutes to save him. But we’ve made some great changes since then.”

Tuff Hedeman, a longtime rodeo cowboy who frequently partnered with Frost, said he remembered the day of Frost’s death vividly.

“We went a lot of places together and did a lot of things together,” he said. “He was just a magical guy who was gone too soon. This is the 30thy year and it’s still just as fresh today as it was then. I remember every detail of that day. It was the roughest day of my life.”

River Mossberg, preparing to enter high school in Cheyenne this fall, is already a nationally recognized bullrider, having competed in the Junior National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. He said Frost is the bullrider who inspires him the most.

“It’s my dream to have my poster on some little kid’s wall just like I have his on mine,” he said.

Cheyenne Frontier Days: Behind the Chutes

in Community/Tourism/arts and culture

By Seneca Flowers, special for Cowboy State Daily

You can tell it’s Cheyenne Frontier Days because the heat has finally kicked up to the 90s in Cheyenne. When the July heat starts cooking, Cheyenne Frontier Days gets into gear. Part of the magic can be witnessed by locals and tourists who can step in the arena mud and dirt as part of the Behind the Chutes tour.

The tour features a variety of history and facts narrated by guides as it passes from the Old West Museum through to the animal holding area and emptying out in to the arena near the bucking chutes and chute nine.

Public Relations Committee Volunteer Jessica Crowder is a tour guide for Behind the Chutes and has been so for nearly a decade. She said over the years, she has enjoyed meeting people from around the world.

“We have had people from Europe, South America,” she said. “I can’t think of place we haven’t seen someone from.”

One family took the tour as part of a vacation from their hometown of Bloomfield, Ind. The Holtsclaw family visited Cheyenne as part of a Wyoming and South Dakota sightseeing trip. As a child, Jarrod Holtsclaw would often visit a Labor Day rodeo in Palestine, Ill., near his hometown with his parents and grandparents. The rodeo was not as large as Cheyenne Frontier Days. He said he was impressed by the size of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.

His son, Boone, enjoyed being up close to the livestock.

“My favorite part was looking at the bulls they had,” Boone Holtsclaw said.

Although the tour took people along the path for 45 minutes, it was a much tighter tour than it was in the past, according to Crowder. The tour used to be just one to two tour guides who had to know every detail. But nowadays, newer volunteers get to shadow the veterans and take part in guiding the tourists. This allows them to help out without having to know every part of the script.

“That adaptation really made it a lot of fun,” Crowder said.

Although she has done the tour for nearly a decade, she said she enjoys hearing about the tourists’ experiences and watching them have fun while interacting during the tour.

Thunderbirds appear in the sky over Cheyenne for 66th time

in Community/military/arts and culture

The U.S. Air Force precision flying team the Thunderbirds took to the skies over Cheyenne for the 66th time on Wednesday for its annual demonstration of high-speed formation flying.

The Thunderbirds have appeared at every Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo since 1953, with pilots flying their F-16 Fighting Falcons only feet from each other as they put the aircraft through various aerobatic maneuvers such as loops.

Viewers pack F.E. Warren Air Force Base to watch the show and line up on either side of Interstate 25 near the base to get a good look at the performance.

The Air Force describes the Thunderbird team as combining years of training and experience with an “attitude of excellence.”

Today’s Cowboy Vocabulary word is: Reride

in Community/arts and culture
CSD Cowboy Vocabulary Reride

A cowboy is given a second chance to ride a bull or horse, called a reride, on a new animal if his first ride was affected by equipment failure or if the livestock did not buck sufficiently. 

Used in a sentence: “Cody DeMoss only scored a 53 in his first bullride, but he was given a reride because the bull did not buck well.”

The Best Carnival Food at Cheyenne Frontier Days

in Community/Food and Beverage

Corndogs and turkey legs and deep-fried Oreos, oh my!

Hang on, Dorothy, the variety of iconic carnival food available at Frontier Park this week staggers the imagination!

From funnel cakes to rattlesnake bratwurst, the carnival midway is filled with deep-fried, smoked and sugared treats.

Just to give you an idea of the high points, Cowboy State Daily’s Jim Angell visited the midway to try 10 different carnival foods and rank them according to his preference. Take a look at his gastronomical journey and watch to the end to see his top 10 choices.

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules for this, so don’t be afraid to offer up your own rankings on the Cowboy State Daily Facebook page.

Bon appetit!

Today’s Cowboy Vocabulary word is: Pickup Men

in Community/arts and culture

Pickup men are two cowboys on horseback who help roughstock riders dismount after their ride and then escort the bull or horse to the exit gate.

Used in a sentence: “The pickup men rode alongside Will’s bull to help him dismount after his 8-second ride.”

Today’s Cowboy Vocabulary word is: Roughstock

in arts and culture
CFD Rodeo vocabulary lesson rough stock

Roughstock is the term used to refer to the events in which cowboys ride bulls or horses (saddle bronc riding or bareback bronc riding). Points are awarded for both the performance of the cowboy and the bull or horse he is riding. Rides last 8 seconds and during that time, the cowboy can hold on with only one hand — if he touches the animal with his other hand, he is disqualified.

Used in a sentence: “I only like to watch the roughstock events at a rodeo.”

Today’s Cowboy Vocabulary word is: Go-Round

in Community/arts and culture
Cowboy Vocabulary Go-Round

A Go-Round is essentially what it sounds like: A round of competition at a rodeo.

Cheyenne Frontier Days features three go-rounds: Two preliminary rounds lasting four days each and one championship round, also called a “short go” because it lasts only one day.

Competitors earn money in preliminary rounds with good performances. The cowboys with the highest earnings for the preliminary go-rounds advance to the championship. The cowboy with the highest earnings for all three go-rounds in his events wins the championship.

Used in a sentence: “Tom did well in the first go-round, but didn’t finish his ride in the second go-round, so he missed out on the short go.”

Fort Carson cavalry keeps bandits on the run at CFD

in Community/arts and culture

The Fort Carson Mounted Colorguard – stationed just outside Colorado Springs, Colorado – is at Cheyenne Frontier Days this week performing reenactments of stage coach robberies and showcasing the important role of the cavalry in the establishment of the American West. 

The active duty Army soldiers represent the 10th Cavalry Division which was the divison of the famed Buffalo Soldiers. Buffalo Soldiers was a name given to the all-African American cavalry regiment by Native American tribes who fought in the Indian Wars.

You can see the Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard all week at the Daddy of ‘Em All.

Hat man: Tips on how to wear a cowboy hat

in Community/arts and culture

For the thousands of visitors expected to hit Cheyenne this week and next for the Frontier Days Rodeo, there may be no worse fashion faux pas than wearing a cowboy hat wrong. It just makes a person look … well, bad.

Fortunately, Cowboy State Daily’s Jim Angell — who confesses he looks like an idiot in a cowboy hat — visited the experts at The Wrangler in Cheyenne the other day to get some tips on how to look good in this unique bit of headgear.

To sum up: Pick a hat that looks good to you (whether it be decorated with the American flag, lights up or is equipped with a bottle opener), get it in the right size and wear it level across the head (too far forward, you look like an outlaw, too far back, you look like Howdy Doody).

For detailed instructions, take a look at Jim’s visit to The Wrangler.

Today’s Cowboy Vocabulary word is: Slack

in Community/arts and culture
Cowboy Vocabulary Slack

Slack refers to rodeo events scheduled at times other than the main rodeo because there is not enough time to squeeze everything into the main rodeo schedule. Often, these are the timed events, such as steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping and steer roping.

Used in a sentence:“The stands were nearly empty during Wednesday’s slack events but the steer wrestler turned in the best time of the go-round.”

Daddy of ‘Em All is BIG for local business

in Economic development/News/Food and Beverage/arts and culture

Tourism officials in Cheyenne are predicting that the city’s annual Frontier Days celebration will bring at least as many people to Cheyenne as showed up for the 2018 event.

Darren Rudloff, president and CEO of Visit Cheyenne, said he understands that ticket sales for the 10-day rodeo are at levels about where they were last year, when about 105,000 people visited the city and reports indicate most hotels rooms in the city are full for the event.

“So far, rodeo tickets are on par with where they were last year, concert tickets are up about 10 percent from what I hear and the weather is going to be great as well,” he said. “So it’s looking like it’s going to be a great Frontier Days.”

Jim Osterfoss, owner of the Warren Nagle Mansion Bed and Breakfast, said his facility is booked to near capacity for the rodeo.

The annual boost for business provided by the extra visitors is always welcomed by businessmen such as George Kallas, who owns the Albany Restaurant in downtown Cheyenne with is brother Gus.

“It’s our Christmas,” he said.

Kallas noted that anyone in Cheyenne during the celebration would be challenged to be bored.

“People come in (to the Albany), they buy package (liquor), they buy food, they buy drink, they go to the (Depot) Plaza, there’s some nice bands on Friday and Saturday night, they go shopping and then they go out to the rodeo,” he said. “And then they go to the night show. And they enjoy all of that. If you can’t find something to do (during) Frontier Days in Cheyenne, there’s something wrong with you.”

Volunteers lead cattle along I-25 for Frontier Days Rodeo

in News/Agriculture/arts and culture

It’s one thing to manage the herds of tourists that descend on Cheyenne for Frontier Days, but quite another to manage the herds of cattle that are the stars of the world’s largest outdoor rodeo.

On Sunday, dozens of volunteers did just that, escorting more than 500 Corriente steers from a pasture north of Cheyenne to the Frontier Days Park in the rodeo’s annual cattle drive.

The volunteers on horseback, including Gov. Mark Gordon, ran the cattle along Interstate 25 and some Cheyenne streets to the pens at the arena in preparation for the rodeo that begins Saturday.

The doctors are in: Meet the Cheyenne Frontier Days wagon doctors

in Community/arts and culture

The dozens of wagons that travel the Cheyenne Frontier Days parade route every year are on the road thanks largely to the work of a dedicated handful of mechanics, painters, carpenters and other volunteers known collectively as the “Wagon Doctors.”

The group not only checks and maintains the wagons that are a fixture at the annual rodeo parade, but handles any repair work necessary on the vintage vehicles.

“We repair and restore old wagons,” said team member Ed Galavotti. “Anything that goes wrong with them or they need painting.”

Tom Watson said a number of volunteers with a wide variety of talents take part in the work.

“The guys we have, they do it as a hobby,” he said. “They do it year-round. We have machinists, we have carpenters, we have painters. We have one guy who does upholstery. So we pretty much can cover anything.”

Materials used to repair and refurbish the wagons, many of them more than 100 years old, are often not readily available, Galavotti said.

“We use specific lumber, we use carriage bolts that you don’t find,” he said. “But there’s places around that supply us.”

The repair work is almost constant, Watson said.

“You never run into something that you’re just going to bring in and fix real quick,” he said. “Because it always leads to something else that you find out wrong.”

Even wagons that do not need repairs get attention from the “doctors,” Watson said.

“All the wagons that are in the parade every year, we grease the axles, we give them a good look-over and tighten bolts,” he said.

The collection of wagons used for the parade is all them more impressive because they are actually used, he added.

“We used to say this was one of the biggest (wagon collections) in the United States,” he said. “There’s none bigger that uses them more.”

Friends remember Lynch as always working to help others

in Community

By Cowboy State Daily

Friends of a well known Cheyenne photographer who died in April remembered him as someone who was always willing to help others.

Jim Lynch, 77, died Friday, April 27. He was well known as a photographer and as the founder of a charity to gather coats for needy children, as well as a longtime volunteer for Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Randy Wagner, a fellow photographer and friend of Lynch’s, remembered him as someone who was always willing to help out.

“He’s just (got) a magnetic personality,” he said. “He’s always willing to work, he’s always there, just a great guy. The kind of guy you don’t meet very often, but you’re always glad you did.”

Lynch was responsible for creating “Coats for Kids,” a charity aimed at providing new coats to needy children in Cheyenne. Since it was created, it has put more than 10,000 coats in the hands of children in the city.

Jeff White, who worked with Lynch at Frontier Days and eventually took over the Cheyenne City Council spot once held by Lynch, said the charity was the result of Lynch’s upbringing in Boston.

“He knew what it was like to go without during the winter months,” White said. “It stuck with him and when he had the opportunity to try and do something about it in our community, he did. And he did it very well.”

Lynch served as the personal photographer to former Gov. Mike Sullivan, who commented on Lynch’s sunny disposition.

“Jim Lynch brightened a room with his positivity, his quiet intellect and his hard-to-hide Boston/Irish heritage,” Sullivan said. “He was a gentle giant who was of great help to me, a friend to so many … and Cheyenne and Wyoming are in better places for his presence.”

A memorial service will be held at Cheyenne’s Plains Hotel on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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