Cheyenne Frontier Days really is the Daddy of ’em All. It stands apart from all other rodeos because of its size, its timing in the circuit, and its historic and sentimental significance.
Size-wise, it’s incredible. The action for each day of the Cheyenne rodeo equals about four days of an average rodeo – and there are nine days! That’s like 36 days of rodeo, all crammed into just over a week. At every performance, you’ll find well over a hundred bulls, broncs, and barrel horses carrying contestents forward in their quest to earn a place in the Wrangler National Finals.
Our arena’s big too — one of the longest in pro rodeo. That poses a unique challenge to team ropers, bulldoggers and tie-down ropers as the cattle high-tail it out of the gate to gain a thirty-foot head start on the horsemen.
Frontier Days comes just after the July 4th weekend, which is called Cowboy Christmas because of all the rodeo money handed out during Independence Day rodeos. The money a cowboy wins that weekend is the water in the wave that carries him to the NFR, and Cheyenne is the crest of the wave. Score high in Frontier Days and chances are you’ll ride all the way to the NFR.
Just this year, eight-time all-around champion Trevor Brazile, working with two road teams who trailered his roping horses to various venues, won over $39,000 at eight rodeos during this year’s Cowboy Christmas. He’ll be coming to Frontier Days to make the most of that record-breaking start.
But it’s not just about the money. Last year, I watched Billy Etbauer win the Cheyenne saddle bronc buckle after over twenty years of trying. It was the one prize that had eluded him in a lifetime of rodeo success. “It’s unreal,” he said on winning CFD. “I’ve been blessed and done so well in the past that I could never complain. But it’s unreal to have finally won it.”
For a lot of long-time Cheyenne residents, Frontier Days is an inconvenience, a week-long pain in the patootie when tourists bottle up traffic, adrenaline-fueled cowboys whoop it up in the bars, and streets are blocked for parades. But if you take the time to look at our annual celebration from an outsider’s perspective, it’s the best of the best – an event people travel thousands of miles to experience. And if you’re a contestant , it’s an essential stop along the rodeo road. Frontier Days changes lives, makes and breaks careers, and builds a livelihood for cowboys as well as providing a worthy mission for dedicated volunteers. It brings the community together and honors our history.
I live just a short walk from the rodeo grounds at Frontier Park, so I’m constantly reminded of the important part Cheyenne plays in keeping the values and virtues of the traditional West alive. The Wild West was just a small slce of our history, but maintaining Western traditions helps define us as a nation. I feel privileged to have a front row seat at the show, and I’m proud to play a part in celebrating and sustaining the cowboy mystique.
I’ll be attending the rodeos as much as I can over the next week and bringing stories and pictures of all the cowboy action – so stay tuned!