Cheyenne Frontier Days
The World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Western Celebration.
By Jocelyn Rosenthal, University of Colorado.
It’s that time of year again – state fair season – where thousands flock to experience the wonder of carnival rides, craft markets, and an all around good time for one week out of the year. This summer I ventured north from my town in Colorado, to Cheyenne Frontier Days – “The World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Western Celebration”. Although Wyoming is only about a hour and a half drive from Boulder, I never had the strong inclination to make the trek to the land of cowboys, but when someone suggested the idea, I knew I could not pass it up.
Sunday morning we got up at 6 am, and (after a coffee stop) loaded 6 cranky people into an old Land Cruiser to start our drive to Cheyenne Frontier Days. As we drove farther north, the lush and scenic mountain views of Colorado were quickly replaced with seemingly never ending cornfields. Finally we made it to the big neon sign and were immediately greeted by friendly people in western gear. The festival on the outskirts is set up like an old rustic western town with stalls selling various cowboy knick-knacks or scenery to take photos with. As you wind your way down the path you encounter farm animals, teepees, and endless opportunities to purchase cowboy hats.
We finally made it inside the main venue where I insisted on dragging my friends on at least 4 of the carnival rides – Tilt-A-Whirls and Ferris Wheels will never get old to me. After working up quite the appetite from being spun upside-down we headed over to the food area filled with most of your typical fair food – fried Oreos, hot dogs, funnel cakes – you know the drill. Looking for a slightly healthier lunch option I settled on an enormous pita, while my boyfriend opted for the more classic meal of a turkey leg.
Then it was time for the rodeo, in fact the largest outdoor rodeo in the United States to be exact. Being a vegetarian and a no nonsense Jersey girl, I had very mixed feelings about going to the event, but decided I had to go just for the experience. The rodeo was like nothing I have ever seen. It began with the anthem, gunfire shot, and girls with perfectly curled hair and bright satin cowgirl gear parading flags around the arena on horseback (I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit jealous of them). Then the events began, everything from bull riding, to roping, and even steer wrestling (probably my least favorite). The crowd was enthusiastic, the sun was shining, and the beer was cold – in all I would say the rodeo was a blast and I would definitely go see one again.
After the rodeo we perused the shopping pavilions filled with jewelry, crafts, and of course western gear. Being freshly ignited with the cowboy spirit I finally broke down and insisted on finding a cowgirl hat, the perfect one to be exact (a thirty minute ordeal). Finally I found the perfect hat, looked the part, and was ready to go see the Dwight Yoakim concert. I’ve felt particular one way or the other about country music, but after this show I am a big fan. The show took place in the rodeo arena and had thousands of authentic cowboys complete with boots, belted Levi’s with a buttoned shirt tucked in, and of course big rimmed cowboy hats. In fact there were so many cowboy hats in the crowd it was nearly impossible to maneuver one’s way around without bumping brims. The music was great and the perfect ending to a night I will never forget. If you get the chance I would highly recommend going to Cheyenne Frontier Days next summer, you won’t regret it. In the mean time check out your own or neighboring state’s fairs for a wonderful experience you will never forget! Happy Travels!