Welcome to the 123rd edition of Cheyenne Frontier Days. And welcome to Wyoming’s Capital City, the “Magic City of the Plains,” home to more than 64,000 residents who “Live the Legend” every day.
If it’s your first time attending the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, we’d like to suggest a few things you won’t want to miss during your stay with us. They include:
The rodeo, of course – Each year, during the last full week in July and several days before, Frontier Park is the place to be for some of the most exciting rodeo action by the top professional cowboys and cowgirls in the world. But all that tradition doesn’t mean the event feels old and stodgy – in fact, just the opposite. As times have changed and technology advanced, CFD’s all-volunteer General Committee has adapted along with it.
This year, the committee decided to change to a tournament format to help those watching the events better understand how the contestants advance to the finals. Yes, there’s been some resistance to the change, including word last month that some of the top tie-down ropers and steer wrestlers would boycott this year’s event.
But the change means more money for the contestants overall, with each event’s prize purse rising from $50,000 last year to $65,000 this year, and the total prize purse up to about $1.3 million.
Will most fans notice a decline in quality? With hundreds of professional athletes entered in each event, we don’t think so. Plus, there’s a new event at Frontier Days this year – women’s breakaway roping. With 200 participants expected, this will be one of the biggest competitions of its kind in the country.
With two wild horse races per rodeo instead of one, online interaction through social media, large video screens that explain each event before it happens and a host of other amenities, the CFD Rodeo is entertaining from start to finish. Pre-rodeo entertainment begins at 11:45 a.m. each day starting Saturday, July 20, with the grand entry at 12:45 p.m. at Frontier Park Arena.
Celebrate our Western heritage – Cheyenne marked its 150th anniversary in 2017, and this year marks the sesquicentennial of women in the Wyoming Territory gaining the right to vote. There are many ways to learn more about the history of both, plus a whole lot more.
First, head to the Visit Cheyenne kiosk inside the historic Cheyenne Depot downtown (121 W. 15th St.) for a tour highlighting the city’s history. A free walking tour brochure will guide you to downtown points of interest, while $12 will get you a 90-minute narrated driving tour on the trolley bus that includes stops at seven key attractions.
Then, be sure to check out some of the fantastic museums Cheyenne has to offer, including the CFD Old West Museum, Cheyenne Depot Museum, Wyoming State Museum, Historic Governors’ Mansion, Nelson Museum of the West, Cowgirls of the West Museum and Messengers Old West Museum.
And following an extensive four-year, $317 million renovation project, the state Capitol has reopened to the public. Self-guided tours are available weekdays and both Saturdays of CFD (July 20 and 27) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., starting at the docent office just inside the front entrance to the left. Be sure to see the Territorial House Chamber, where women’s right to vote was signed into law as part of the state constitution – just please be respectful of the craftsmanship that went into restoring this space, which makes Wyoming’s capitol one of 20 worthy of being on the National Historic Register.
Experience life in the West – Whether stepping back in time at Old Frontier Town or experiencing Native American cultural traditions at the Indian Village, we know many visitors come to Cheyenne to experience the Old West. Other throwbacks to a bygone era can be found in the carefully preserved wagons and carriages that roll through downtown during the four Grand Parades. And you’ll want to attend at least one of the three free pancake breakfasts for an experience you’ll never forget!
Celebrate our military – Cheyenne’s railroad and military history are forever linked, and it’s celebrated every year during Frontier Days in several ways. The largest is Fort D.A. Russell Days, a free three-day celebration at F.E. Warren Air Force Base Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21, that includes living history presentations, security forces demonstrations, historic homes tours and much more.
Then, at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 24, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team continues a tradition going back to when it was founded more than 60 years ago by performing in F-16 fighter jets over part of F.E. Warren Air Force Base. After that, head over to the Wyoming National Guard’s air show, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. at 217 Dell Range Blvd.
For a comprehensive guide to all of this and much more, pick up a free copy of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Frontier Days souvenir magazine. It is available at our office, 702 W. Lincolnway, and other locations throughout the city.
Again, welcome to Cheyenne. We hope you enjoy your time with us!