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The College National Finals Rodeo returns to Casper for its 23rd year

Casper College National Finals Rodeo
College National Finals Rodeo
The College National Finals Rodeo has been hosted at the Ford Wyoming Center since it came to Casper in 1999.

The rodeo kicks off June 11 at 1 p.m. Tickets are available via the Ford Wyoming Center’s website.

The College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) will be held on June 11-17 at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper. The rodeo has been hosted there each year except for 2020 when the rodeo was canceled due to the pandemic since 1999.

“The rodeo itself is the same as every other year. We crown our national champions, but this year, we're doing a little something different for more of a celebration of these kids getting here,” said Jim Dewey Brown, commissioner of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, which oversees the CNFR. “We're going to have an armband ceremony similar to a back number ceremony.”

Rodeo contestants often wear a number on their back or chest that designates their participation. This includes a vest with their college or university’s insignia for the CNFR. The armband has this information and goes around one of the arms of the contestants to designate this same information.

The number of rodeo participants remains constant each year, with a limit of how many can compete in the finals event, which is approximately 400 student-athletes each year. Brown added last year that around 3,500 student athletes competed in collegiate rodeo at both two-and four-year colleges and universities but only around 400 make it to the finals event.

“Basically, the changes are the kids,” he said. “They basically rotate out, some of them we might see four or five times. But that's the biggest change is the contestants are generally different every year.”

There’s a chance CNFR will change its host city in 2027 when a current contract expires. Before 1999, it was hosted in Rapid City, South Dakota for two years and Missoula, Montana for 26 years. Casper beat out much larger cities in 1999, such as Fort Worth, Texas, to host the event.

“The [Casper] community embraced this event and they do a wonderful job in hosting us and rolling up the carpet for us as we come in and invade their town for 10-15 days,” he said.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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