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Lots to be learned at Cheyenne Frontier Days

Kitty Michelotti-Glaser
Staff Reporter

At the 110th “Daddy of ’em All,” people flocked from all over the country and even the world to experience the biggest celebration of the western way of life. License plates from New York, Alaska, and many of the 50 states were spotted in the parking lot. Some tourists from Europe just happened to “stumble upon” Frontier Days in their travels, while one couple from Finland said they had specifically returned to the States in July to relive Frontier Days again!

No matter the reason for arriving or the distance travelled, this year Frontier Days held a little surprise for anyone who looked. Down every street, around every corner, there were new tidbits of information waiting to be learned. The local blacksmith held his wealth of information about times gone by. The Indian village taught visitors about traditions and their origins. Even the challenge rodeo had a few lessons to teach. So get comfortable while I impart some of what I learned at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

It starts out like a bad joke … a huge group of people standing around, all looking up. You think as soon as you look up, they are going to say “Made you look!” … that is until you hear the six F-16s scream over your head. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have been performing for the public for over 50 years. They have performed in all 50 states and over 60 countries for over 315 million people.

Throughout their 50-plus years of performing, the Thunderbirds have used five different planes to perform with. Their current plane, the F-16, has been their acrobatic aircraft of choice for over 20 years.

The Thunderbirds squadron consists of a team of eight pilots (six are demonstration pilots), four officers, 120 active-duty Air National Guard and enlisted people, and four civilians. Each year about one-third of the squadron is replaced with new people, so there is always a mix of experience. The USAF Thunderbirds perform from March to November. The squadron uses the winter months to train new pilots to do the over 40 aerial maneuvers they perform at each show.

This year’s show had many new maneuvers like the slow controlled “drag,” performed by one plane, or the sky-iris performed by five of the six planes. With the use of their afterburners, the Thunderbirds also made several circles around the sun. The Thunderbirds perform on “Cheyenne Day” every year during Frontier Days. If you missed them this year, be sure to make it to Laramie County Community College next year for the show! You may even be lucky enough to watch new cadets take their oath into the squadron like we did!

Meanwhile, back at Frontier Park, there was an entire Wild Horse Gulch waiting to be explored. Plumes of black smoke were appearing in front of a crowd at the blacksmith’s storefront. While he worked his iron, the blacksmith told the crowd how integral a blacksmith was on the Western frontier.

The blacksmith was the center of town in the Old West. He made tools to shape horse’s teeth, so his customers naturally came to him to make smaller versions for people ” so he was also the town dentist. Blacksmiths were some of the few folks who could read, and they always had a Bible, so blacksmiths also acted as the town’s preacher. It was a horse-driven society, and the blacksmith worked on the horses’ feet. Naturally the mail would come in through the blacksmith’s shop, so he was also the postmaster. Being preacher, postmaster, dentist, and blacksmith, he knew everyone in the town, so another natural progression was for the blacksmith to also be the mayor.

When the blacksmith pulled up stakes and moved, the town followed him. He was the hub of a town’s economy and without the blacksmith, there was no town. As time wore on, the iron industry became no less important. In fact, in the early 1900s the largest employer in this country was U.S. Steel.

“Today,” said the blacksmith, “the largest employers are Wal-Mart and McDonalds. What are we producing as a country?”

The blacksmith also pointed out how we have moved away from using cast iron pots and pans.

“If nothing sticks to Teflon, how do you get Teflon to stick to the frying pan?” he asked. It’s a heating process that binds it, but every time you cook it can unbind it and the Teflon comes off in your food. He equated our use of Teflon with the Romans overuse of lead. The lead use turned out to be poisonous, and he wondered if Teflon wouldn’t prove to be the same in the years to come. Cast iron pots and pans, “like grandma used to use” give off trace amounts of iron into the diet. Iron is a mineral we need to avoid being anemic, and cooking with iron provides it … yet another way blacksmithing is still involved in our lives today.

“It’s all over your language too,” said the blacksmith. The expressions “forging ahead,” and “too many irons in the fire” originate from blacksmithing. The gavel taps at the beginning and end of a town meeting, for example, also originate from a blacksmith pounding the anvil. It was how he communicated with his apprentice in such a loud environment. As in the Old West, this blacksmith was a wealth of knowledge (with a bit of preaching mixed in). He did a great job of educating his audience while fashioning his tools right before their eyes. And he never missed a beat!

Plenty of beats, music, and rich history could also be found in the Indian Village. Flutists, storytellers and the Wind River Dancers all help to keep the ancient traditions of the American Indian alive. Often times I have found myself too mesmerized by the colorful costumes and swirling movements to really discover what the dances were about, but this year I made a concerted effort. The costumes are very symbolic in the dances performed.

At the 110th “Daddy of ’em All,” people flocked from all over the country and even the world to experience the biggest celebration of the western way of life. License plates from New York, Alaska, and many of the 50 states were spotted in the parking lot. Some tourists from Europe just happened to “stumble upon” Frontier Days in their travels, while one couple from Finland said they had specifically returned to the States in July to relive Frontier Days again!

No matter the reason for arriving or the distance travelled, this year Frontier Days held a little surprise for anyone who looked. Down every street, around every corner, there were new tidbits of information waiting to be learned. The local blacksmith held his wealth of information about times gone by. The Indian village taught visitors about traditions and their origins. Even the challenge rodeo had a few lessons to teach. So get comfortable while I impart some of what I learned at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

It starts out like a bad joke … a huge group of people standing around, all looking up. You think as soon as you look up, they are going to say “Made you look!” … that is until you hear the six F-16s scream over your head. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have been performing for the public for over 50 years. They have performed in all 50 states and over 60 countries for over 315 million people.

Throughout their 50-plus years of performing, the Thunderbirds have used five different planes to perform with. Their current plane, the F-16, has been their acrobatic aircraft of choice for over 20 years.

The Thunderbirds squadron consists of a team of eight pilots (six are demonstration pilots), four officers, 120 active-duty Air National Guard and enlisted people, and four civilians. Each year about one-third of the squadron is replaced with new people, so there is always a mix of experience. The USAF Thunderbirds perform from March to November. The squadron uses the winter months to train new pilots to do the over 40 aerial maneuvers they perform at each show.

This year’s show had many new maneuvers like the slow controlled “drag,” performed by one plane, or the sky-iris performed by five of the six planes. With the use of their afterburners, the Thunderbirds also made several circles around the sun. The Thunderbirds perform on “Cheyenne Day” every year during Frontier Days. If you missed them this year, be sure to make it to Laramie County Community College next year for the show! You may even be lucky enough to watch new cadets take their oath into the squadron like we did!

Meanwhile, back at Frontier Park, there was an entire Wild Horse Gulch waiting to be explored. Plumes of black smoke were appearing in front of a crowd at the blacksmith’s storefront. While he worked his iron, the blacksmith told the crowd how integral a blacksmith was on the Western frontier.

The blacksmith was the center of town in the Old West. He made tools to shape horse’s teeth, so his customers naturally came to him to make smaller versions for people ” so he was also the town dentist. Blacksmiths were some of the few folks who could read, and they always had a Bible, so blacksmiths also acted as the town’s preacher. It was a horse-driven society, and the blacksmith worked on the horses’ feet. Naturally the mail would come in through the blacksmith’s shop, so he was also the postmaster. Being preacher, postmaster, dentist, and blacksmith, he knew everyone in the town, so another natural progression was for the blacksmith to also be the mayor.

When the blacksmith pulled up stakes and moved, the town followed him. He was the hub of a town’s economy and without the blacksmith, there was no town. As time wore on, the iron industry became no less important. In fact, in the early 1900s the largest employer in this country was U.S. Steel.

“Today,” said the blacksmith, “the largest employers are Wal-Mart and McDonalds. What are we producing as a country?”

The blacksmith also pointed out how we have moved away from using cast iron pots and pans.

“If nothing sticks to Teflon, how do you get Teflon to stick to the frying pan?” he asked. It’s a heating process that binds it, but every time you cook it can unbind it and the Teflon comes off in your food. He equated our use of Teflon with the Romans overuse of lead. The lead use turned out to be poisonous, and he wondered if Teflon wouldn’t prove to be the same in the years to come. Cast iron pots and pans, “like grandma used to use” give off trace amounts of iron into the diet. Iron is a mineral we need to avoid being anemic, and cooking with iron provides it … yet another way blacksmithing is still involved in our lives today.

“It’s all over your language too,” said the blacksmith. The expressions “forging ahead,” and “too many irons in the fire” originate from blacksmithing. The gavel taps at the beginning and end of a town meeting, for example, also originate from a blacksmith pounding the anvil. It was how he communicated with his apprentice in such a loud environment. As in the Old West, this blacksmith was a wealth of knowledge (with a bit of preaching mixed in). He did a great job of educating his audience while fashioning his tools right before their eyes. And he never missed a beat!

Plenty of beats, music, and rich history could also be found in the Indian Village. Flutists, storytellers and the Wind River Dancers all help to keep the ancient traditions of the American Indian alive. Often times I have found myself too mesmerized by the colorful costumes and swirling movements to really discover what the dances were about, but this year I made a concerted effort. The costumes are very symbolic in the dances performed.

At the 110th “Daddy of ’em All,” people flocked from all over the country and even the world to experience the biggest celebration of the western way of life. License plates from New York, Alaska, and many of the 50 states were spotted in the parking lot. Some tourists from Europe just happened to “stumble upon” Frontier Days in their travels, while one couple from Finland said they had specifically returned to the States in July to relive Frontier Days again!

No matter the reason for arriving or the distance travelled, this year Frontier Days held a little surprise for anyone who looked. Down every street, around every corner, there were new tidbits of information waiting to be learned. The local blacksmith held his wealth of information about times gone by. The Indian village taught visitors about traditions and their origins. Even the challenge rodeo had a few lessons to teach. So get comfortable while I impart some of what I learned at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

It starts out like a bad joke … a huge group of people standing around, all looking up. You think as soon as you look up, they are going to say “Made you look!” … that is until you hear the six F-16s scream over your head. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have been performing for the public for over 50 years. They have performed in all 50 states and over 60 countries for over 315 million people.

Throughout their 50-plus years of performing, the Thunderbirds have used five different planes to perform with. Their current plane, the F-16, has been their acrobatic aircraft of choice for over 20 years.

The Thunderbirds squadron consists of a team of eight pilots (six are demonstration pilots), four officers, 120 active-duty Air National Guard and enlisted people, and four civilians. Each year about one-third of the squadron is replaced with new people, so there is always a mix of experience. The USAF Thunderbirds perform from March to November. The squadron uses the winter months to train new pilots to do the over 40 aerial maneuvers they perform at each show.

This year’s show had many new maneuvers like the slow controlled “drag,” performed by one plane, or the sky-iris performed by five of the six planes. With the use of their afterburners, the Thunderbirds also made several circles around the sun. The Thunderbirds perform on “Cheyenne Day” every year during Frontier Days. If you missed them this year, be sure to make it to Laramie County Community College next year for the show! You may even be lucky enough to watch new cadets take their oath into the squadron like we did!

Meanwhile, back at Frontier Park, there was an entire Wild Horse Gulch waiting to be explored. Plumes of black smoke were appearing in front of a crowd at the blacksmith’s storefront. While he worked his iron, the blacksmith told the crowd how integral a blacksmith was on the Western frontier.

The blacksmith was the center of town in the Old West. He made tools to shape horse’s teeth, so his customers naturally came to him to make smaller versions for people ” so he was also the town dentist. Blacksmiths were some of the few folks who could read, and they always had a Bible, so blacksmiths also acted as the town’s preacher. It was a horse-driven society, and the blacksmith worked on the horses’ feet. Naturally the mail would come in through the blacksmith’s shop, so he was also the postmaster. Being preacher, postmaster, dentist, and blacksmith, he knew everyone in the town, so another natural progression was for the blacksmith to also be the mayor.

When the blacksmith pulled up stakes and moved, the town followed him. He was the hub of a town’s economy and without the blacksmith, there was no town. As time wore on, the iron industry became no less important. In fact, in the early 1900s the largest employer in this country was U.S. Steel.

“Today,” said the blacksmith, “the largest employers are Wal-Mart and McDonalds. What are we producing as a country?”

The blacksmith also pointed out how we have moved away from using cast iron pots and pans.

“If nothing sticks to Teflon, how do you get Teflon to stick to the frying pan?” he asked. It’s a heating process that binds it, but every time you cook it can unbind it and the Teflon comes off in your food. He equated our use of Teflon with the Romans overuse of lead. The lead use turned out to be poisonous, and he wondered if Teflon wouldn’t prove to be the same in the years to come. Cast iron pots and pans, “like grandma used to use” give off trace amounts of iron into the diet. Iron is a mineral we need to avoid being anemic, and cooking with iron provides it … yet another way blacksmithing is still involved in our lives today.

“It’s all over your language too,” said the blacksmith. The expressions “forging ahead,” and “too many irons in the fire” originate from blacksmithing. The gavel taps at the beginning and end of a town meeting, for example, also originate from a blacksmith pounding the anvil. It was how he communicated with his apprentice in such a loud environment. As in the Old West, this blacksmith was a wealth of knowledge (with a bit of preaching mixed in). He did a great job of educating his audience while fashioning his tools right before their eyes. And he never missed a beat!

Plenty of beats, music, and rich history could also be found in the Indian Village. Flutists, storytellers and the Wind River Dancers all help to keep the ancient traditions of the American Indian alive. Often times I have found myself too mesmerized by the colorful costumes and swirling movements to really discover what the dances were about, but this year I made a concerted effort. The costumes are very symbolic in the dances performed.

At the 110th “Daddy of ’em All,” people flocked from all over the country and even the world to experience the biggest celebration of the western way of life. License plates from New York, Alaska, and many of the 50 states were spotted in the parking lot. Some tourists from Europe just happened to “stumble upon” Frontier Days in their travels, while one couple from Finland said they had specifically returned to the States in July to relive Frontier Days again!

No matter the reason for arriving or the distance travelled, this year Frontier Days held a little surprise for anyone who looked. Down every street, around every corner, there were new tidbits of information waiting to be learned. The local blacksmith held his wealth of information about times gone by. The Indian village taught visitors about traditions and their origins. Even the challenge rodeo had a few lessons to teach. So get comfortable while I impart some of what I learned at Cheyenne Frontier Days.

It starts out like a bad joke … a huge group of people standing around, all looking up. You think as soon as you look up, they are going to say “Made you look!” … that is until you hear the six F-16s scream over your head. The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have been performing for the public for over 50 years. They have performed in all 50 states and over 60 countries for over 315 million people.

Throughout their 50-plus years of performing, the Thunderbirds have used five different planes to perform with. Their current plane, the F-16, has been their acrobatic aircraft of choice for over 20 years.

The Thunderbirds squadron consists of a team of eight pilots (six are demonstration pilots), four officers, 120 active-duty Air National Guard and enlisted people, and four civilians. Each year about one-third of the squadron is replaced with new people, so there is always a mix of experience. The USAF Thunderbirds perform from March to November. The squadron uses the winter months to train new pilots to do the over 40 aerial maneuvers they perform at each show.

This year’s show had many new maneuvers like the slow controlled “drag,” performed by one plane, or the sky-iris performed by five of the six planes. With the use of their afterburners, the Thunderbirds also made several circles around the sun. The Thunderbirds perform on “Cheyenne Day” every year during Frontier Days. If you missed them this year, be sure to make it to Laramie County Community College next year for the show! You may even be lucky enough to watch new cadets take their oath into the squadron like we did!

Meanwhile, back at Frontier Park, there was an entire Wild Horse Gulch waiting to be explored. Plumes of black smoke were appearing in front of a crowd at the blacksmith’s storefront. While he worked his iron, the blacksmith told the crowd how integral a blacksmith was on the Western frontier.

The blacksmith was the center of town in the Old West. He made tools to shape horse’s teeth, so his customers naturally came to him to make smaller versions for people ” so he was also the town dentist. Blacksmiths were some of the few folks who could read, and they always had a Bible, so blacksmiths also acted as the town’s preacher. It was a horse-driven society, and the blacksmith worked on the horses’ feet. Naturally the mail would come in through the blacksmith’s shop, so he was also the postmaster. Being preacher, postmaster, dentist, and blacksmith, he knew everyone in the town, so another natural progression was for the blacksmith to also be the mayor.

When the blacksmith pulled up stakes and moved, the town followed him. He was the hub of a town’s economy and without the blacksmith, there was no town. As time wore on, the iron industry became no less important. In fact, in the early 1900s the largest employer in this country was U.S. Steel.

“Today,” said the blacksmith, “the largest employers are Wal-Mart and McDonalds. What are we producing as a country?”

The blacksmith also pointed out how we have moved away from using cast iron pots and pans.

“If nothing sticks to Teflon, how do you get Teflon to stick to the frying pan?” he asked. It’s a heating process that binds it, but every time you cook it can unbind it and the Teflon comes off in your food. He equated our use of Teflon with the Romans overuse of lead. The lead use turned out to be poisonous, and he wondered if Teflon wouldn’t prove to be the same in the years to come. Cast iron pots and pans, “like grandma used to use” give off trace amounts of iron into the diet. Iron is a mineral we need to avoid being anemic, and cooking with iron provides it … yet another way blacksmithing is still involved in our lives today.

“It’s all over your language too,” said the blacksmith. The expressions “forging ahead,” and “too many irons in the fire” originate from blacksmithing. The gavel taps at the beginning and end of a town meeting, for example, also originate from a blacksmith pounding the anvil. It was how he communicated with his apprentice in such a loud environment. As in the Old West, this blacksmith was a wealth of knowledge (with a bit of preaching mixed in). He did a great job of educating his audience while fashioning his tools right before their eyes. And he never missed a beat!

Plenty of beats, music, and rich history could also be found in the Indian Village. Flutists, storytellers and the Wind River Dancers all help to keep the ancient traditions of the American Indian alive. Often times I have found myself too mesmerized by the colorful costumes and swirling movements to really discover what the dances were about, but this year I made a concerted effort. The costumes are very symbolic in the dances performed.


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