May 28, 2020 |
The news was grim and tough to take. COVID killed the cowboy.
Six of Wyoming’s largest summer rodeos, including Cheyenne Frontier Days, were cancelled yesterday because of concerns the coronavirus could spread in large crowds.
Rumors swirled throughout morning. At an afternoon news conference, a choked-up and teary-eyed Governor Mark Gordon, surrounded by officials from each of the events, made it official.
The state’s public health orders with their social distancing guidelines, which were extended for a fifth time yesterday, make staging the events almost logistically impossible. The health of volunteers, fans, vendors, contestants and the communities where they are held were all a consideration, the governor said.
The summer events affected by the decision include the Thermopolis Cowboy Rendezvous PRCA Rodeo, the Cody Stampede, the Central Wyoming Fair and PRCA Rodeo, the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, Laramie Jubilee Days and the “Daddy of ‘em All,” Cheyenne Frontier Days. The governor said the cancellations were a group decision.
This will be the first time ever Cheyenne Frontier Days will not go off as planned in its 124 year history. Not two world wars or even the global pandemics of 1918 and 1968 could keep the cowboys, the rough stock and the fans from coming together over the last two weeks of July.
Tom Hirsig, the president and CEO of the CFD, said the process of reaching yesterday’s decision to cancel the roster of events across the state began six weeks ago.
Smaller rodeos around the state are still a go.
The state’s public health order regarding outdoor public gatherings was relaxed yesterday to allow for up to 250 people starting June 1st. The governor said the relaxed rule means local rodeos will be allowed to proceed. Not all will. The Saratoga Bullfest is still making plans for August, but the Red Desert Rodeo in Rock Springs has cancelled this year’s event.
The Wyoming State Fair in August has not been cancelled, at least as of yesterday.