What was supposed to be the 90th celebration of the Sheridan WYO Rodeo has been canceled. The cancelation comes in conjunction with several other major rodeos in the state opting to shut down this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The WYO Rodeo is the biggest week for the city and county's economy and typically brings north of $6 million into the area, said Billy Craft, the rodeo board's president. The event includes the rodeo, parade, carnival, powwow and other activities. Ticket sales include 22,500-30,000 attendees, and that same amount attend the rodeo parade in downtown Sheridan.
Craft said the potential economic impact makes the decision to cancel this year especially heartbreaking. But he said this is the best decision for the long-term health of the community.
"We felt the potential long-term risk to the economy by going forward with the event and risking a spike of the disease which would then shut everything down for an undetermined period of time, be it another two months, six 6 months, 10 or 12. It would bankrupt Main Street," he said.
Craft said the board was not forced to make the decision-rather the move to cancel was made together with the other major rodeos, state and local officials, and professional rodeo groups.
Given the social distancing requirements in place, the event would have been drastically altered.
"It's the social event for the community. Whether it's Cheyenne, Sheridan, Cody—it doesn't make any difference...It's a community party. And to think we could produce an event and still have people experience a positive week, it couldn't happen. It was not going to be the same," Craft said.
Though it's been a painful decision, the experience of working with groups in the community and state will hopefully lead to more collaboration in the future, he said.
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