With the first of 500 Corriente steers cresting the hill north of Cheyenne, Wyo., the 113th Cheyenne Frontier Days was officially underway. In this annual event, Committee Chairmen, Dandies, wranglers, volunteers, guests, and family gather for a chuck wagon breakfast and some socializing before driving the cattle to the rodeo pens at Frontier Park.
When everyone has had their fill of a hearty breakfast of sausage, eggs, and biscuits and gravy, all cooked to perfection in Dutch Ovens, the real work of moving the timed event steers to Frontier Park begins. The guests and media load onto the vintage wagons that will lead the procession along the I-25 frontage Road from Horse Creek Road to Central Avenue. The herd turns right off of Central just past the golf course and continues into the back entrance to Frontier Park.
This annual event is always enjoyed by the many onlookers that line the roads along the route. Traffic along the route is controlled by the Cheyenne police and the Wyoming Highway Patrol keeps traffic moving along I-25. It is always interesting to see that the cars from Colorado and Wyoming hardly slow down, while the cars bearing plates from eastern states slow to almost a crawl. The windows open, the kids shout, and cameras are thrust through the window to record an image of the 'wild west' to show to folks back at home.
Working with large groups of animals is always an adventure waiting to happen. Last year the steers ran all the way to the park. This year the herd took a more leisurely pace and the cattle were easily distracted by the lush green grass along I-25 that bountiful spring rains had produced.
The herd was pretty stubborn and when it stopped, the wranglers had a real job on their hands to get them moving again. Most of the people on horse back were ceremonial and the real cowboys had their hands full getting and keeping the herd moving in the right direction. The Dandies, the Cheyenne Frontier Days precision mounted group, served as out-riders to keep the herd from crossing onto I-25.
A rodeo as large as Cheyenne Frontier Days can not function without a huge crew of very capable volunteers. When it comes to moving animals, one prominent volunteer always on hand is 2000 World Champion Steer Wrestler Frank Thompson. Frank and the rest of the wranglers did a great job not only in keeping the cattle moving, but also in making sure no adventurous animals took advantage of breaks in the fence at intersections to take off on their own.
Once inside of Frontier Park the cattle are driven once around the track and into the pens. Then a new group of volunteers will sort the cattle, put horn wraps on the Steer and Team Roping animals, and get ready for the start of events at the 113th annual "Daddy of 'em All".