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Cheyenne Frontier Days Finally Celebrates 125 Years

Frontier Days Rodeo clown watches a cowboy fall off a bull
Bob Beck
Wyoming Public Radio

After a year off due to COVID-19, the "Daddy of 'em All" finally gets to celebrate its 125th year as Cheyenne Frontier Days returns. General Chairman Jimmy Dean Siler and PR Chairman Mike Smith join Bob Beck to discuss the two-week event which kicks off next weekend.

Bob Beck: Jimmy Dean and Mike, first off, thanks to both of you for joining us today. Jimmy Dean, I want to start off with you and just sort of talk about first off how great it is to finally get an opportunity to come back here. I know last summer must have been completely strange without having the rodeo.

Jimmy Dan Siler: It was. It broke our hearts not to be able to put on Cheyenne Frontier Days and not to have our world-class rodeo. So yeah, this has been very special to us. And it's a great feeling.

BB: Mike, as far as interest in the rodeo this year, has there been any hesitancy? Are you seeing good ticket sales?

Mike Smith: Yeah, the ticket sales are through the roof, Bob. We are something like 75 percent up on rodeo sales and 40 percent to 50 percent above on concert sales. All indications are people are as excited to come to Cheyenne as we are to host them.

BB: It seemed like you guys kind of loaded up this year to try to get some people to buy night show tickets. I'd be curious what is left for people to attend. Are there still tickets?

MS: Yeah, there's still plenty of tickets to a lot of these shows. And they can look that up at cfdrodeo.com That's the best source for information on that. Of course, anytime you have Garth Brooks in the lineup, that's one to sell out automatically. And so Garth is sold out unless you've got a really good friend who wants to do you a big favor. Blake Shelton on the final Saturday is also sold out. But for everybody else there are tickets available. Some of those shows they're going to be down in the standing room, but we've revamped that standing room, spread it out over a greater area and added more screens, to hopefully make that experience a better one for all our customers as well.

BB: Jimmy Dean, I know you wanted an opportunity to mention some changes in the carnival and some other upgrades that have been done. Can you talk about some of that?

JS: This year we're bringing in two new rides for our carnival. The individual in charge is going to make sure that we have these two new rides that he got from Europe. We're pretty excited about it. We also have a new concessionaire. So you're gonna see a lot of new foods there. He's world-class. He's been on a lot of TV shows for his food. And the other thing is we've added some different gates and stuff onto our park and entrances so that now the customer can easily get into our park. We've got a new park and ride entrance. And it's going to be right next to our new Chris LeDoux statue. So that's another safe thing that we've done for our customers. And it just adds to our park, it's going to make the experience a heck of a lot better.

BB: Mike, let me ask you the elephant in the room question. Obviously, there are some growing COVID-19 numbers in Laramie County. How do you keep this safe? Also, what are you suggesting to people to keep everybody else safe?

MS: Well Bob, as you know, we've encouraged everybody to vaccinate upfront, we want everyone to be able to participate in our event. That includes our customers, our community and our volunteers. And the best way to ensure that you can participate is to vaccinate. So we've encouraged folks to take that step once they're at the park here.

And we want folks to know that we've developed a COVID plan over the last year, and we've done so in coordination with the University of Nebraska Global Center for Health Security. They'll be in the park with us some during the week as well. And that's just to ensure we've got the sanitizer station set up in the right spots. We're offering masks to folks outside all of our indoor venues. But it's also important to emphasize the majority of our event is outdoors. And that's a great help to us in ensuring that everyone's safe.

So you'll see just the kind of things that we're used to seeing, unfortunately, now. A lot more cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces and events, trying to ask people not to stay inside for extended amounts of time, and if they do encourage them to wear a mask. We've instituted digital ticketing to the extent we can to minimize personal contact. We also have a clear bag policy this year, which is important for folks to know about, that limits the size of bags and ask that they be clear. So our security folks don't have to make as much personal contact with customers. So those are some of the things we're emphasizing. And in the end, we're relying on individuals and the steps that they feel comfortable taking and to ensure all of us as a community remain safe.

BB: Jimmy, maybe as a final thought. This is such an amazing event that you put on with mostly volunteers, you've got so many people in the community that really go above and beyond and put in extra time to work on this. Could you just kind of tell folks about that volunteer effort?

JS: You know, our volunteers are the heart and soul of Cheyenne Frontier Days. From the very start, we've had volunteers that helped put this event on. This is one of the only events that I can ever think of anywhere that we've never taken any tax dollars at all. It's all been put on by the sweat from our volunteers. They take great pride in putting on the best show they can. They have no qualms at all about taking ownership in the fact that this is what we do. And this is what we do better than anybody else. So my heart goes out to the volunteers.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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