Cheyenne Frontier Days is more than just the world’s largest outdoor rodeo. It’s a chance for people to come together and celebrate their western heritage. The rodeo celebrates its 116th year this year, and spectators can take part in a multitude of events.
This year CFD will be held from July 20-29. The “Daddy of ’Em All” will showcase bulls and broncs, cowboys and concerts, and parades and pancakes. The 10-day celebration is fun for the whole family, and an event that shouldn’t be missed.
“A hundred and sixteen years ago when they came up with the idea, it was to get people from Denver to come to Cheyenne to spend money. They had a bad winter and the herds were devastated and this event helped to revitalize them. It still brings economic development to our community, and helps build our economy,” said Rod Hottle, General Chairman for CFD.
More than 2,500 volunteers work to put on CFD every year. The first of nine rodeos begins July 21, and will run every day throughout the event starting at 12:45 p.m. The 1,500 contestants will compete for more than $1 million in prizes, as well as bragging rights for winning one of the world’s oldest rodeos.
“We put on the rodeo and support the sport of rodeo,” he said.
For fans wanting more rodeo, Championship Bull Riding will be held on July 23 and 24. The “Road to Cheyenne” tour finishes at CFD, and the World Champion will be crowned. Both nights the event will begin at 8 p.m.
Frontier Nights is also another main attraction, as country and rock artists perform in the area. This year’s featured entertainers include: Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley with The Band Perry, Merle Haggard, Reba McEntire, Journey, Hank Williams, Jr. and Blake Shelton.
“I like the rodeo but we have great night shows. We’ve been very successful bringing in great acts. The whole event is super, and my recommendation is to try to attend as much as you can. We have something for everyone,” said Hottle.
The Grand Parade will take place on July 21, as well as on July 24 and 28th. The parade will feature western heritage and horse-drawn vehicles. “We have one of the largest carriage collections, and the emphasis on the parade is those carriages and a number of other things in the western setting. We try to preserve our way of life and show other people who come that way of life too and the culture,” said Hottle.
A free pancake breakfast will be served from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on July 23, July 25 and July 27 at Depot Plaza at the heart of Cheyenne.
Each year, CFD serves about 100,000 flapjacks, 3,000 pounds of ham, 9,200 cartons of milk, and 520 gallons of coffee, along with 630 pounds of butter and 475 gallons of syrup. Started in 1952 by the Kiwanis Club, they now serve more than 30,000 locals and visitors yearly.
Frontier Park also includes the Indian Village cultural area. In addition to hosting authentic American Indian dancing, music playing and storytelling, the Indian Village also includes a number of Native American exhibit booths and food vendors.
Other attractions include the carnival/midway area, the chuck wagon cook-off, CFD Old West Museum, Buckin-A Saloon and the Wild Horse Gulch Western Heritage Area.
“This year in the Wild Horse Gulch we did a number of improvements. We have a barn in the petting zoo, new restaurants, a peewee stampede rodeo and more spots for food vendors and a chuck wagon,” said Hottle.
He continued, “We also had a carnival expansion. Its bigger and better this year. We also put in new bucking chutes and made electrical upgrades. We put $1.5 million back into the part this year.”
For those that want more information about how the rodeo is run, a free Behind the Chutes tour will be held daily at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. in front of the CFD Old West Museum.
On July 25, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will put on a aerial show in front of Laramie County Community College. The Wyoming Air National Guard static display/air show will not be held this year.
Another place to visit is the CFD Amphitheater at Volunteer Square, located just west of the Main Gate. It is open to public from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. during the event. The area also features a variety of free acts from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. throughout CFD. ❖