We had high hopes. We didn’t know what to expect. Now that the dust has settled on the 125th anniversary Cheyenne Frontier Days, we are in awe of the results. Words truly fail to express the appreciation we have for so many – when faced with incredible challenges, you made this year’s event spectacular. Thank you.
The numbers tell just part of the story. Both Saturday rodeo performances were sold out. Two night shows – Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton – sold out. All the events throughout the week saw stellar crowds. As a result, attendance at the rodeo was up 14%, and night show ticket sales were up by 29%, compared to 2019.
The numbers are amazing. The people behind those numbers even more incredible. When COVID-19 shut down our 2020 celebration, we continued planning for 2021. Times had been tough. We sought approval for a 2021 celebration that would help move the Cheyenne economy forward, boost the spirits of our customers, and prove to the world that we could implement safety and security measures and still host an enthusiastic crowd.
It could only be done with enormous hard work from our volunteers, the financial commitment of our sponsors, and the cooperative advice from local and state health officials. Our ambitious plan was submitted. In April, with just four months to put that plan into place, we received the go-ahead from Gov. Mark Gordon and local officials.
The response was overwhelming. In that short time frame, we received commitments from our sponsors for the resources needed to finance one of the largest western celebrations in the world. Night show performers honored their commitments to entertain. Garth Brooks and Ned LeDoux led the way, embracing our 125th celebration theme of “Just LeDoux It,” in remembrance of Chris LeDoux.
And the volunteers – are we grateful for our volunteers – prepared Frontier Park for all the new safety and security improvements. New procedures with digital ticketing protected our customers and our volunteers. A clear bag policy was implemented to improve security. There were bumps along way. Thanks to the diligence and patience of everybody, those bumps were minimized.
The RFDTV/Cowboy Channel broadcast all rodeo performances and two parades to a worldwide audience. All qualifying rounds (slack) could be viewed on the channel app. Over 2.1 million viewers watched Cheyenne Frontier Days, rivaling viewers who tuned into the National Finals Rodeo.
F.E. Warren Air Force Base, as always, worked to support our show, and were honored to feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds in the skies of Cheyenne and host Fort D.A. Russell Days.
Cheyenne Frontier Days is built around the largest outdoor rodeo in the world. 2020 was a tough year for rodeo competitors – so many events were canceled. We wanted to welcome them back with a first-class venue and a top-dollar purse. We are appreciative of the cowboys and cowgirls who competed in the 125th. Women’s breakaway roping was added to our program, and we see a growing role for women in our event. We rewarded contestants with one of the largest payouts nationwide. We were able to increase the purse from $875,000 in 2019 to nearly $1.1 million in 2021. The “Daddy of ‘em All” is a bucket list event for many rodeo contestants.
Local police officers, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters are an important part of our security operations. We thank them for their support and cooperation.
Cheyenne literally opens its doors for Frontier Days visitors and guests. Our community rolled out the red carpet once again. Thank you for the smiles, and for the patience you showed with the crowds.
We know there are improvements to be made. If you stood in line to buy a hot dog, you know it was tough to hire workers. We hope more people will be eager for work in 2022. Even with the larger-than-expected crowds and a short supply of workers, Fun Biz Concessions, Inc., set new records in food and beverage consumption at Frontier Park.
We are committed to being better in every way. As always, we will need your help. We end as we began. We are grateful to everyone who worked, who participated, who supported the celebration. It was spectacular. Thank you.