Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Celebration Still “Wow’s”
Cheyenne Frontier Days
Byline: Karen Leslie
Where else can you watch the “Daddy of ‘em All” rodeo and choose from over 100,000 free flapjacks? Cheyenne Frontier Days, the U.S.’s most renowned rodeo, is filled with challenging, breath-stuck-in-your-throat true grit competitions where over 1,800 cowboys and cowgirls and 2,000 “animal athletes” show the rest of us how they’re still taming the Wild West.
As the premier celebration of the Western cowboy and ranch culture, the annual festival delivers an exhilarating nine day celebration to tens of thousands of gawkers. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) named Cheyenne Frontier Days the “Largest Outdoor Rodeo Of The Year” for the 16th year in a row with top professional sharing over one million dollars in cash and prizes. Those are the facts, but how about the story?
How Frontier Days grew into the largest rodeo in the U.S.
In 1897, the idea of Frontier Days began with a letter exchange between an agent of the Union Pacific Railroad and the editor of the Cheyenne Sun-Leader in response to Greeley, Colorado’s “Potato Day.” They thought they could create a more exciting festival that highlighted the cowboy and ranch life. The new railway steamed through Wyoming’s capital in Cheyenne, so attracting people to a cowboy round-up festival made it an ideal location.
The first year’s events focused on cowboy skills like pony races, bronco busting, and steer roping. Within a year, the festival expanded to include a parade, and continued to grow over the next 120 years into the U.S.’s premier “Western” celebration boasting the largest outdoor rodeo in the world. Until 1925, the Grand Parade was “nothing more than wild gallops through the streets of Cheyenne by a bunch of unruly cowboys on wild broncos.” Today, a more gentrified version of the parade fills the Cheyenne streets four times during the Frontier Days festival.
What is a rodeo?
A rodeo (the Spanish word roughly means “round-up”) is an exhibition of “everyday ranch skills turned into high-level competition.” Rodeo is the official state sport of Wyoming, and in fact, the bucking horse with rider silhouette is the state emblem. Cheyenne Days features daily rodeo and exhibitions, including: bareback riding, saddle bronc, and bull riding, steer wrestling, tie down and team roping, women’s barrel racing, and wild horse racing. By 1901, women began joining the competitions with “Prairie Rose” Henderson debuting at Cheyenne.
Frontier Days attractions
At the Frontier Days festival Western enthusiasts can stroll through the Native American Village and old frontier town, take in daily rodeo events, wild-horse racing, a chuck wagon cook-off, pancake breakfast, top-name entertainments, an air show, and professional bull riding, not to mention a spectacular parade that will take you back in time. Whew! It’s hard to know which way to look—up, down, or all around!
Visit the Old West Museum
The Old West Museum features unique Western artifacts and art, digital interactives, and the most extensive collection of carriages west of the Mississippi, all the while telling the story of Frontier Days “ups and downs.”
“It’s Just a Cut…” The life and dangerous times of the Rodeo Clown
In 2019, BNT will take a Group Tour on a 10 day tour of “Wyoming & Yellowstone National Park”
On July 17, 2019, BNT starts the 10 day loop with a fly-in to Rapid City, South Dakota. First on the itinerary is a visit to Bear Country in the Black Hills and Buffalo Herd Jeep Ride in Custer State Park. The group will lunch at the beautiful State Game Lodge, then drive to Badlands National Park. Before departing to Mount Rushmore National Park, they’ll visit the famous Wall Drug Store. Next up are the Frontier Days Old West Museum and the “Daddy of ’em All” rodeo. On the way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the bus will cross The Continental Divide at Towotee Pass. The group will tour Grand Teton National Park and enjoy a cowboy dinner and western show. The next few days, the group will explore Yellowstone National Park and take in the grand sights of Old Faithful, the Paint Pots, Artist Point, Inspiration Point, Tower Falls, and Mammoth Hot Springs. To round out this spectacular celebration of Western culture and our national parks, the group will visit Buffalo Bill Historical Center, featuring five internationally acclaimed museums: Whitney Gallery of Western Art; the Buffalo Bill Museum; the Plains Indian Museum; the Cody Firearms Museum; and the Draper Museum of Natural History. After an overnight in Cody, Wyoming, the tour will fly home via Billings, Montana.
Come along with BNT and celebrate Wyoming’s “Old West” roots—and, it’s okay if this isn’t your first rodeo!