For the past 121 years, Cheyenne has hosted a true celebration of Western heritage during Frontier Days.
The local community, neighboring states and visitors from around the world support the efforts of approximately 2,900 volunteers to make memorable experiences for all patrons. The dedication of those volunteers is rewarded through support of those patrons at the rodeo, parades, pancake breakfasts, Indian Village, night shows and many other activities that make this 10-day event the “Daddy of ‘em All.”
This year’s numbers were in line with previous years. Four parades had 78,500 visitors. Three pancake breakfasts saw 24,764 meals served and 49,181 visited the Indian Village. With expanded entertainment options around the park and enhancements to the Western experience, total attendance for 2017 was 534,519. Rodeo attendance was 94,267 compared to 93,238 in 2016.
The final rodeo on Championship Sunday, July 30, had 12,419 fans bring the house down when local favorite Brody Cress won the saddle bronc riding title. It was the third best-attended rodeo this year. The Behind the Chutes Tours gave 3,725 fans an up close and personal rodeo experience.
Military Monday set a new attendance record that was second only to the 100th anniversary. All branches of the military were honored with active personnel and veterans receiving free admission. The U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leapfrogs, thrilled rodeo and night show fans by jumping into the arena at Frontier Park and the USAF Thunderbirds were another hit.
The rodeo has been the centerpiece of the celebration since it began in 1897 when Bill Jones earned the bronc riding championship. For the fourth year, the Cinch Shoot-Out kicked off the competition. Contestants competed on teams that raised $10,000 for local charities. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA) sanctioned competition has grown to one of the most prestigious rodeos in the world. This year’s 1,243 contestants participated in nine events for $846,118 in prize money.
Through the Cinch Shoot-Out on opening day, the PRCA and WPRA sanctioned slack competition, nine rodeo performances and two Championship Bull Riding events, there were no serious injuries to competitors. The Justin Sportsmedicine Team was onsite and provided treatment for 400 minor injuries.
A new partnership with Colorado State University’s (CSU) Equine Clinical Services program provided comprehensive care to equine animal athletes at Cheyenne. The CSU Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation veterinarians provided care similar to athletic trainers for contestants. Onsite services included digital radiographs, ultrasound, acupuncture, chiropractic care and shock wave therapy.
The rodeo and parades, along with horse demonstrations and bull riding saw more than 6,000 animals come through Frontier Park. Approximately two-thirds of them were part of the rodeo. A team of veterinarians checked those animals before and after performances. Reports showed that 159 of those animals were examined. Treatments were provided to 44 of them with all but five expected to make a full recovery.
The Bureau of Land Management in cooperation with Mantle Ranch Wild Horse and Burro Training presented wild horses and burros that were all adopted. Demonstrations were provided by the Mantle family and Madison Shamburg also known as Mustang Maddy.
Championship Bull Riding brought their world championships to Cheyenne as part of the night shows. They paid $525,000 to bull riders, bull owners and bull fighters. The big winner was Sage Kimzey who won his third world title in that organization and a $100,000 bonus.
RFD-TV broadcast their popular Western Sports Roundup on Rural Radio and the new Cowboy Channel from Frontier town. Their broadcast reached over 70 million fans. The final three performances were webcast on the Wrangler Network. Over 300,000 people from 52 countries enjoyed the global coverage.
Night shows were once again a popular attraction with the largest crowd of 19,660 turning out for Jason Aldean and special guest the Casey Donahew. Total night show attendance was 107,445 compared to last year’s record setting 118,123.
“It continues to amaze me how all of our volunteers come together to make this event happen,” said Bill Berg, General Chairman of Cheyenne Frontier Days. “It takes a lot of planning, hard work and dedication and the best reward is knowing that so many fans have participated and had a good time.”