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The Sheridan WYO Rodeo set records for ticket sales and prize payouts

Sheridan WYO Rodeo attendees
Sheridan WYO Rodeo
Spectators watch the Sheridan WYO Rodeo from the grandstands at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds.

The 2023 Sheridan WYO Rodeo set records for attendance and event payouts. The rodeo’s board of directors reported a total of 24,807 tickets sold, which amounts to several hundred additional attendees this year as compared to last year and came close to selling out.

“We ended up being like two percent [higher], our attendance this year [was] 24,807. Last year [we were at] 24,274, so we were very close to selling out in the last couple years, but we had not actually sold out,” said Zane Garstad, executive director of the Sheridan WYO Rodeo. “We’re just so pleased about that. I mean, first time ever, so it's exciting to know that you're on the right trend.”

Garstad said there are many factors that have led to increased attendance from previous years. Crowd favorites such as the Indian relay races are part of the equation, but marketing Sheridan as a place to visit has also played a role.

“I think the Cowboy and Cowgirl Channel, we have been a part of their broadcast schedule, and I think that has opened up some real great promotional opportunities for not only the rodeo, but for our community and making it a place that people want to visit,” Garstad said. “It's not just about the rodeo, but it's about our community and what can be done, what a great place it is to be.”

Garstad expects the rodeo to grow in popularity in the coming years and attributes the hard work of the rodeo’s board as a reason for the enduring legacy and strong attendance. He said they're trying new things, learning from mistakes, and planning the rodeo so it can keep growing.

“In our mindset, [it’s] if you're not growing, you're dying. And I think that's an important attitude and perspective to have, and we definitely have it,” he said. “We're very optimistic for the future.”

Some of the new events this year included events for kids ages six to 14, which included barrel racing each night. The top two youth participants went on to complete the final night of the four day rodeo.

“I think by adding the youth aspect, especially because the contestants are local, and I think people really want to see that. And whenever you do anything with the youth, and we're trying to focus on developing our youth and the sport of rodeo, I think people really can embrace that,” he said. “Personally, that was my favorite part of the rodeo.”

Other new developments for this year included Rodeo 101, a tutorial on how various rodeo events are scored, so that those new to rodeo could better understand what was happening. Another popular events was when former Sheridan rodeo royalty conducted interviews with contestants.

The prize money for events was also increased. The Cowboy Channel and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) contributed funds for additional prize money. The Sheridan WYO Rodeo also chipped in $2,000 for each event, totaling their contributions to $17,000 per event.

“Our community is probably our best way to promote and market the event, and so they have really taken ownership on what this means to our community. And that I think is probably the most important thing, [the] most important factor to us selling tickets and making this such a great event,” he said. “We thank them for buying tickets to our rodeo and that they feel that it's an important event that they want to attend.”

Next year’s Sheridan WYO Rodeo will take place July 10-13, 2024.

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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