CHEYENNE – Facebook comments Mayor Marian Orr made about two weeks ago on a Cheyenne Frontier Days video drew criticism from some CFD supporters.
CFD reposted a video on Facebook called “Legacy of the Rodeo Man.” The video featured a poem by cowboy poet Baxter Black, and showed both old and new footage of rodeo activities. One of the lines in the video was “His legacy is rodeo, and cowboy is his name.”
The video was created by a videographer who is not affiliated with Frontier Days, but had a media pass to this year’s event, according to Mike Smith, head of CFD’s Public Relations Committee.
Orr’s comments, which were made using her personal Facebook account, revolved around the lack of women in the video about the history of CFD. Her first comment said, “How incredibly lost on the great women that have been with CFD before it was CFD. A great tribute to the ‘Good ol Boys.’ And that ... needs to end.”
Barry Hendler of Uvalde, Texas, is one of the people who took issue with the comments. He has traveled to Cheyenne and volunteered for CFD for about 12 years.
“I realize that today, people have choices and they have their own personal likes and dislikes,” Hendler wrote. “Why your mayor, who is charged to represent the city, would chose to be critical of a tradition that represents the city so well is beyond me.”
In an interview Thursday, Orr said her criticisms were geared at the video itself, rather than Frontier Days as a whole.
“Cheyenne Frontier Days has great history. I’m very supportive of it,” Orr said.
She continued that her office and the city as a whole are fully supportive of the event, thanking volunteers and sponsors and cleaning up afterward. She said she simply took issue with the lack of photos and videos of women at CFD in the promo video.
“The video made (Frontier Days) appear as a ‘Good Old Boys Club,’” she said. “I don’t think the video did a fair job of really depicting what CFD is.”
Others found the initial comment divisive.
Bill White commented, “Yeah, let’s divide everything into groups. Can’t just let a tribute stand on its own, can you, Mayor? Just politicize everything!”
To that, Orr replied, “There is nothing political about this. It’s sexist. Not political. We have so many wonderful women that have been with CFD since day one. Let’s be inclusive – as we began. We have the best story in the nation to tell about women and rodeo. Let’s do it.”
Hendler wrote that criticizing the institution was the wrong thing to do.
“Criticism becomes very easy if you aren’t involved,” Hendler wrote.
Orr agreed that her comments were critical and said the critiques might not have been the best way to go about advocating for change.
“I probably should have said, ‘Hey, in the future, we’ve got some really amazing historical women, how about using them?”