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Cheyenne Frontier Days, other landmark rodeo events canceled due to pandemic
Cheyenne Frontier Days, other landmark rodeo events canceled due to pandemic
Cheyenne Frontier Days has been canceled for the first time in its history because of concerns about the novel coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.
Cheyenne Frontier Days has been canceled for the first time in its history because of concerns about the novel coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.

The event joins five other historic Wyoming rodeos that have now been nixed, Gov. Mark Gordon said, after the leaders of those events collectively decided to cancel them rather than risk fueling a coronavirus outbreak in their various communities.

“No one hates this more than me,” Gordon said. He paused, and his voice wavered. “This reality is not an easy one. I grew up around rodeo and rodeoed myself.”

Gordon made the announcement flanked by representatives from the six rodeos: Cheyenne Frontier Days, Thermopolis Rendezvous, Cody Stampede, Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo, Sheridan WYO Rodeo and Laramie Jubilee Days. He and state health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist both stressed that the closures were not the result of a mandate from the state, but rather were the product of collaborative discussions with all of the events and health officials.

“I don’t think anyone up here wants to be saying the things that we need to say today,” the governor said. “We all realize that no matter what we might do this year, it is highly likely large events are going to be different going forward and therefore it is important to think about the future and the health of our volunteers, rodeo fans, contestants and even the communities where these events are held.”

All of the events have deep roots in their respective communities. The rodeo in Cody — self-styled as the world capital of the sport — first began in 1919 as a celebration of Buffalo Bill Cody, who died two years before. Cheyenne Frontier Days, meanwhile, had a previously unbroken history dating to 1897 that withstood the Spanish flu, two world wars and economic depressions.

It bills itself as the “world largest outdoor rodeo” and the “Daddy of ‘em All.”

Tom Hirsig, the CEO of Cheyenne Frontier Days, spoke as a collective spokesman for the canceled rodeos. He said there was concern about volunteers’ health and participation; the Cheyenne rodeo is a volunteer-run operation.

He added that sponsorship for the events was vital and that those sponsors had been financially impacted by the ongoing pandemic, which has hammered the state and national economy. Hirsig said that the various rodeos were all going to lose money because of the cancellation and that some “already spent a large amount of money.” Gordon said that, in addition to other concerns, it was difficult to move forward with the rodeos from a “business sense.”

“Delaying the decision would result in more money being spent without a guarantee that it would take place,” Hirsig said. “The closer you get, the more you spend.”

Gordon said the officials had held off as long as they could in making the decision because they had been “trying to find a way, any way, possible” to still host the rodeos. But he said that there was no way to overcome safety concerns, and he warned that had the events been held and failed — for whatever reason — that such a stumble would impact the reputation and future of the rodeos for years to come.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the state had confirmed 653 cases of coronavirus, with 207 additional probable cases, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. Laramie County has the second-most confirmed cases (122) and the most probable cases (61).

Fourteen residents in Wyoming have died after contracting COVID-19, including two from Laramie County, the most populous county in the state.
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Cheyenne Frontier Days, other landmark rodeo events canceled due to pandemic
Cheyenne Frontier Days, other landmark rodeo events canceled due to pandemic
Cheyenne Frontier Days has been canceled for the first time in its history because of concerns about the novel coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.
Cheyenne Frontier Days has been canceled for the first time in its history because of concerns about the novel coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.

The event joins five other historic Wyoming rodeos that have now been nixed, Gov. Mark Gordon said, after the leaders of those events collectively decided to cancel them rather than risk fueling a coronavirus outbreak in their various communities.

“No one hates this more than me,” Gordon said. He paused, and his voice wavered. “This reality is not an easy one. I grew up around rodeo and rodeoed myself.”

Gordon made the announcement flanked by representatives from the six rodeos: Cheyenne Frontier Days, Thermopolis Rendezvous, Cody Stampede, Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo, Sheridan WYO Rodeo and Laramie Jubilee Days. He and state health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist both stressed that the closures were not the result of a mandate from the state, but rather were the product of collaborative discussions with all of the events and health officials.

“I don’t think anyone up here wants to be saying the things that we need to say today,” the governor said. “We all realize that no matter what we might do this year, it is highly likely large events are going to be different going forward and therefore it is important to think about the future and the health of our volunteers, rodeo fans, contestants and even the communities where these events are held.”

All of the events have deep roots in their respective communities. The rodeo in Cody — self-styled as the world capital of the sport — first began in 1919 as a celebration of Buffalo Bill Cody, who died two years before. Cheyenne Frontier Days, meanwhile, had a previously unbroken history dating to 1897 that withstood the Spanish flu, two world wars and economic depressions.

It bills itself as the “world largest outdoor rodeo” and the “Daddy of ‘em All.”

Tom Hirsig, the CEO of Cheyenne Frontier Days, spoke as a collective spokesman for the canceled rodeos. He said there was concern about volunteers’ health and participation; the Cheyenne rodeo is a volunteer-run operation.

He added that sponsorship for the events was vital and that those sponsors had been financially impacted by the ongoing pandemic, which has hammered the state and national economy. Hirsig said that the various rodeos were all going to lose money because of the cancellation and that some “already spent a large amount of money.” Gordon said that, in addition to other concerns, it was difficult to move forward with the rodeos from a “business sense.”

“Delaying the decision would result in more money being spent without a guarantee that it would take place,” Hirsig said. “The closer you get, the more you spend.”

Gordon said the officials had held off as long as they could in making the decision because they had been “trying to find a way, any way, possible” to still host the rodeos. But he said that there was no way to overcome safety concerns, and he warned that had the events been held and failed — for whatever reason — that such a stumble would impact the reputation and future of the rodeos for years to come.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the state had confirmed 653 cases of coronavirus, with 207 additional probable cases, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. Laramie County has the second-most confirmed cases (122) and the most probable cases (61).

Fourteen residents in Wyoming have died after contracting COVID-19, including two from Laramie County, the most populous county in the state.



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