Widely known as “The Daddy of ’em All,” the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days is a 10-day summer festival that celebrates all things cowboy and Indian. The centerpiece is theProfessional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) sanctioned rodeo (the prize purse tops $1 million) where you can watch bronco and bull riding and team roping performed by the field’s top cowboys.
Now approaching its 118th year, CFD kicks off with a bang-up parade and programming that continues around the daily elimination rounds. Stick around the rodeo arena, pay attention, and you’ll be able to spot the up-and-coming cowboy stars of each rodeo event.
At the CFD Fairgrounds, you can tour the world’s largest outdoor rodeo arena, an Indian Village with crafts and dance displays, a cowboy style children’s play area and a myriad of shops, without even paying an admission fee.
Cheyenne Frontier Days is a Citywide Festival
Each year, the CFD’s tiny management staff corral 2,500 Wyomingite volunteers into sharing their ranch smarts and hospitality with visitors from all over the world. The townsfolk put on pancake breakfasts, chili cookoffs and train buff events.
There are daily Gunslinger Shootouts in the town square and all the Cowboys n’ Indians play that any family could want.
Rodeo Appreciation for Colts
Begin your visit with a free, hour-long Behind the Chutes tour, where local cowboys explain how the rodeo works, what type of events to expect, and how they are judged. Additionally, guests are taken behind the scenes to see the horses who will soon be competing to outrace a bull, or lasso a steer or keep bucking broncos in their place.
This little orientation will help the city folk in your crowd appreciate the many rounds of competition (well illustrated with instant replay on a big screen). There is cheap general seating on the sunny side of the arena, which is cooled by spritzers, and reserved seating in the shade — a good place to be if you have little ones.
The four hours of daily rodeo competition includes bull riding, a very exciting sport where riders have to stay mounted on wildly jumping bulls for at least 8 seconds in order to score. (Only one of the 20 contestants we saw made it through.) As the MC announced prior to the event, “These steers are stronger than 10 acres of mowed garlic!”
Different cowboy competitions include calf-roping and bronc riding, steer wrestling and even a race between wild horses. Some clowns, barrel racing and appearances by glittery Rodeo Queens make up the rest. These fans love a good rodeo.
In fact, Steamboat, a famous bucking bronco that entertained the Frontier Days crowd for many seasons, was buried under the arena at his death. Wyoming maintains its adulation of this fearless horse by featuring him on their license plate.
The Wild West Cowboys and Indians Life
Among the CFD attractions is a Frontier Town where you can step back in time and chat with merchants, artisans and craftspeople who represent our Western heritage. You may even meet up with the likes of Buffalo Bill Cody and Wyatt Earp. Evening entertainment includes an “Old Fashioned Melodrama,” fun for the entire family, where everyone hollers “Yay” for the hero and “Boo” for the villian.
Rodeo Special Events
Cheer on some extraordinary kids at the Challenge Rodeo, a modified rodeo which pairs children with special needs with contestants of the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association. This event will take place on July 22 and 23, 2015 at 11:30am.
Get a good start for the day at the Pancake Breakfast at 7am on July 20, 22 and 24, 2015 when folks will be serving 100,000 flapjacks with 475 gallons of syrup.
At the Indian Village, families can grab a picnic table under the trees to sample the popular Indian Tacos (ground beef and beans on Indian bread). Several times a day, the Native Americans who come to be cultural ambassadors run a storytime, or demonstrate hoop dancing, or other Indian arts. Here, the vendors in teepees showcase beautiful turquoise jewelry, beadwork, feathered items and Native American pottery.
Cheyenne for Family Fun Vacations
Late July, typically the season for Cheyenne Frontier Days, is the most crowded and expensive time of the year to visit, but it’s absolutely worth it. Not only are there many free events, but the thousands of cowboys that come in for the championship rodeo enliven all Cheyenne’s other attractions. We found the first few days great fun; rodeo followers prefer the last days of competition when only the best are left, but the pomp and circumstance continue throughout.
Of course, not everyone will be able to visit Wyoming’s state capital during Cheyenne Frontier Days. At any of year, if you circle the wagons and focus on the town’s many Old West style attractions, you’ll have a great visit.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.