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Cheyenne Frontier Days
One of the premier events in the Cowboy State is Cheyenne Frontier Days, held the last full week of July every year since 1897. The event started as a rodeo for ranch-riding cowboys who liked to show off their skills; now it consumes all of Cheyenne for nine days, when 250,000 to 300,000 people come into town.
Parades, carnivals, and concerts fill the streets and exhibition grounds, but rodeo remains the heart of Frontier Days, drawing the best cowboys and cowgirls each year. There is no rodeo quite like this one, known by the nickname "Daddy of 'Em All."
By the Numbers
Cheyenne Frontier Days includes nine afternoon rodeos; nine nighttime concerts; eight days of Native American dancing (Saturday-Saturday); four parades (Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday); three pancake breakfasts (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday); one U.S. Air Force air show (Wednesday); and one art show (all month).
Dozens of the top Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association contenders come to Cheyenne to face off in bull riding, calf roping, saddle or bareback bronc riding, and steer wrestling. Women compete in barrel racing; and trick riders and rodeo clowns break up the action. In one of the most exciting events, three-man teams catch a wild horse and saddle it, and then one team member rides the horse around a track in a bronc-busting rendition of the Kentucky Derby. Frontier Days wraps up with the final rodeo, in which the top contestants from a week's worth of rodeos compete head-to-head.
Each night, concerts showcase top country entertainers such as Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, and Tim McGraw (be sure to buy tickets in advance). Members of the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes from the Wind River Reservation perform dances at a temporary Native American village where they also drum, sing, and share their culture. The parades show off a huge collection of horse-drawn vehicles, and the free pancake breakfasts feed as many as 12,000 people in two hours. Crowds descend on the midway for carnival rides and games.
Boots and Books
Of course, there's plenty of shopping: at the Western wear and gear trade show you can buy everything from boots and belts to home furnishings and Western art. And you can pick up regional titles at book signings by members of the Western Writers of America.
Cheyenne Frontier Days entertains both kids and adults, in large numbers. It not only takes over Cheyenne but fills lodgings in nearby Laramie, Wheatland, Torrington, and even cities in northern Colorado. If you plan to attend, make your reservations early—some hotels book a year out.
For further information and to book rodeo and concert tickets, contact Cheyenne Frontier Days. The Web site is a useful resource: you can buy tickets online, see a schedule of activities, and order a brochure, all well in advance of the event itself. Box 2477, Cheyenne, WY, 82003. 307/778-7222 locally; 800/227-6336 elsewhere. www.cfdrodeo.com.
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