‘Daddy of ‘Em All’ more than just rodeo: This year’s CFD thrills fans, breaks records
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For many cowboys, all roads lead to Cheyenne.
The largest outdoor rodeo in the world, Cheyenne Frontier Days boasts large crowds, big paychecks and the chance to move up in the standings as cowboys pursue a trip to the National Finals Rodeo.
However, CFD is more about more than just rodeo.
Held July 18-27 at Frontier Park in Cheyenne, CFD featured nine sanctioned PRCA rodeo performances, seven concerts, four parades, three pancake breakfasts and a multitude of other events.
Cheyenne Frontier Days began in 1897, and garnered the name, “Daddy of ‘em All,” in 1919.
The rodeo has won the “Large Outdoor Rodeo Committee of the Year” award from the PRCA 14 times, and each year offers more and more to the fans.
The annual rodeo kicked off with a 550 head cattle drive, which starts at a pasture four miles north of Cheyenne and ends at Frontier Park.
After that is when the real festivities began.
The annual pancake breakfasts served more than 30,000 people, with 7,900 breakfasts served on the first day, 13,097 on the second and 10,757 on the final day. The breakfasts were held on July 22, 24 and 26. People enjoyed a breakfast of hot pancakes, butter and syrup, ham, coffee and milk.
The parade is another crowd favorite, and event-goers had four showings to choose from. The CFD parades began in front of the Wyoming State Capitol, and goes for 19 blocks. It features one of the largest collections of antique carriages and automobiles.
One unique event for Cheyenne Frontier Days is the train ride from Denver to Cheyenne on the steam-powered Union Pacific Northern Class steam locomotive No. 844, which took place on July 20.
The engine has been in service since 1944, and completed its 19th trip to the rodeo this year.
The train transports more than 750 passengers, who are chosen using a lottery system for the tickets. Passengers ride the train through Greeley to Cheyenne, and spent the time visiting Old Frontier Town and the rodeo.
A special challenge rodeo was held on July 24 and July 25. The challenge rodeo children are paired with a volunteer buddy and a V.I.P., who guide the children through modified rodeo events.
Old Frontier Town was open every day, and features an Old West town complete with a school, saloon a church. Various craftsmen and artisans populate the town, offering a variety of items for sale.
The Indian Village features members of the Little Sun Drum and Dance group, which included members of the Arapaho and Lakota tribes in Wyoming.
The Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show & Sale was also held.
Started in 1981 as the Governor’s Invitational Art Show & Sale, the name was changed in 1995. Proceeds benefited the CFD Old West Museum.
Frontier Nights are one of the best events of the rodeo for many fans.
Frontier Nights became a staple of the rodeo in 1929. In 1951, the first night show was held and featured Fred McMurray.
This year, CFD offered concerts featuring Journey with special guest Styx, Alan Jackson with Randy Houser, Dwight Yoakam with Chauncey Williams and the Younger Brother Band, Luke Bryan with Thompson Square, Rascal Flatts with The Band Perry, Jason Aldean with Jake Owen and Toby Keith with Joe Nichols.
The biggest concert of the series was Aldean’s, who broke the all-time attendance record at Cheyenne and set the record for the biggest concert in Wyoming history.
Aldean’s concert sold nearly 25,000 tickets, breaking George Strait’s previous record of 24,000.
“It’s such an unbelievable thing to even have your name uttered in the same breath as a guy like that,” Aldean told ABD News radio. “Strait is probably the best country singer of the last century in my opinion. I can only hope for a career that lasts half as long as his…there is still no one cooler than King George!”
In addition to the concert, Aldean partnered with Wyoming Women First, Susan G. Komen and GE to encourage women to sign up for information on health screening. He donated tickets and meet-and-greet passes.
Miss Frontier for this year was Choloe Pfoor, the daughter of Fiona and the late Karl Pfoor. Originally from England, Pfoor moved to Wyoming in 2005 when her father was stationed in Cheyenne.
“Cheyenne Frontier Days has become a part of me, my life and who I am. Trying out for Lady-in–Waiting and becoming Miss Frontier was something I always wanted to do, ever since attending my first ‘Daddy of ‘em All.’ Being selected for the position is both an honor and a dream,” she said.
She continued, “Cheyenne Frontier Days is such an amazing tradition, with over 2,500 volunteers to make the rodeo happen. It is rooted by a great committee that plans and steers the event all year long so that in July we can have the show the world loves to come see. Being a part of such a great event, for my city and for the world of rodeo, is a privilege.”
The Lady-in-Waiting for this year was Kaci Malmborg, the daughter of Kody and Misty Malmborg. She was born and raised in Cheyenne.
“It is such an honor to serve as a goodwill ambassador for Cheyenne Frontier Days,” she said.
CFD is run on volunteers, and has been dubbed the volunteer capital of the world.
According to the CFD Media Guide, “Cheyenne Frontier Days isn’t just a rodeo or a town celebration. It’s a heritage. It’s culture in its most simplistic form, and it defines human nature in its best form. Take a few caring people and put them together. Stand back for a hundred years, and observe the product of millions of hours of a labor of love.”
The rodeo ended on June 28 with the finals.
This year’s All-Around Cowboy was Tuf Cooper of Decatur, Tex., who competed in the tie-down and team roping events. Cooper was crowned the champion 20 years after his father Roy Cooper, who was a steer roper, won the title in 1993. The younger Cooper was on stage for both crownings.
One of the most famous cowboys of Cheyenne Frontier Days is Lane Frost, who is commemorated in a statue on Frontier Park. Thousands of visitors to the rodeo each year stop and take a photo with the famous statue, and pay their thanks to the man who helped shape rodeo.
This year marked the 24th anniversary since his tragic death on July 30, 1989. Frost, who was the 1987 World Champion, was killed during the bull riding event at Cheyenne. The movie “8 Seconds” was a story of his life, and for many, he will always be the personable cowboy.
Paul Harvey, in an obituary he wrote the day following Frost’s death, said, “Lane Frost is forever 25.”
Final figures on ticket sales have not yet been released, but organizers reported more than 250,000 tickets were sold. ❖
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I remember my dad saying, “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” But before we get to the history lesson, consider this: