About This Festival
A Taste of the Past
The world’s largest outdoor rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days, happens to be located in America’s least populous state: Wyoming. Cheyenne’s population virtually doubles in midsummer with this institution of the American West, which dates back to 1897. With ten days of bronco-busts, parades, free pancake breakfasts, carnivals, square dances, the greatest names in country western music, and the world’s largest collection of horse-drawn carriages, Frontier Days is a dizzying spectacle.
If this is your cup of tea (or your mug of “black Joe”), you may appreciate the cultural revisionism at play at Frontier Days. Cowboys and Indians aren’t shooting at each other, but instead cowboy poets go spur-to-spur while an Indian village hosts dancing, storytelling, cuisine and crafts. Of course, in real life, the history of the American West was a little messier but it’s nice to see everyone getting along at this “feel good” festival.
Learn Something About Rodeo at Cheyenne Frontier Days
Most rodeos, including Cheyenne Frontier Days, are built around six principal events:
- Saddle bronc riding, the classic cowboy event, when a rider tries to stay on his bronc for ten seconds while having one hand in the air.
- Bareback bronc riding which requires only 8 seconds of resilience.
- Bull riding where you’ll see clowns trying to distract the bulls when they throw their riders to the ground.
- Calf roping or team roping which requires that the cowboy show his lariat skills to lasso a free running calf, bring the calf to the ground, and bind three of the animal’s feet.
- Bull dogging or steer wrestling, in which a rider drops onto the horns of a galloping steer and works him to the ground while another cowboy (called the hazer) rides alongside to keep the steer running straight.
- Women’s barrel racing with cowgirls on horseback. The bright colors of the cowgirls’ sequined outfits sparkle as they roar by.
After watching all of this, you’ll find yourself feeling more like a real cowpoke, having fallen in love with the intense competition between man and beast. It should be noted that due to the extreme physicality of the events, the rodeo has had its share of animal injuries and deaths, and so it is not surprising that it has its detractors in the animal rights community. However, Cheyenne Frontier Days does take its commitment to animal care quite seriously and adheres to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association strict rules governing animal welfare.
An Affordable Family Getaway
Overall, Cheyenne Frontier Days is a summer vacation bargain and there’s something for everyone whether it’s the pancakes and parades in the morning, the afternoon rodeo, the carnival, the various villages, or the evening concerts. While you’re in the area, consider going to a couple of popular local ranches that will give you the flavor of western life. The Terry Bison Ranch (www.terrybisonranch.com) is a working ranch with over 2,000 grazing bison on 30,000 acres and they have regular bison tours. And, the Bit-O-Wyo Ranch (www.bitowyoranch.com) offers trail rides and authentic cowboy dinner theater in the horse barn.
From the Organizer
In the frontier west of a young United States, cowboys roamed vast expanses of land as they tended cattle on the open prairie. After months out on the range, the cowboys returned to their ranches, sometimes partaking in friendly bucking horse competitions with other cowboys in the area. On September 23, 1897, organizers harnessed the spirit of these impromptu matches of cowboy skill, and the Daddy of 'em All® was born. Since then, Cheyenne Frontier Days™ has been at the heart of the cowboy way of life. Through recessions, depressions, wars, natural disasters and every conceivable kind of weather, the Daddy of 'em All® has been recognized as the greatest celebration of western spirit the world has ever known. Each year during the last full week of July, the Magic City of the Plains brings together rodeo fans, country music lovers, western enthusiasts and fun-seekers from all 50 states and 23 foreign countries on five continents. Join us July 21-30, 2017, to see why the 121-year-old marvel continues to captivate all who join in the celebration that is Cheyenne Frontier Days™.