Dust off the cowboy boots and head to Wyoming for the “Daddy of em’ all”, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days. Taking place each summer during the last full week of July, the ten day affair is living proof that the West is still wild here. The saloons and vigilante days may be long gone, yet this high-energy event proves Cheyenne, Wyoming’s capital city, is still capable of kicking its heels up for a hog-killin’ time.
Over ten days, old West roots are brought into a modern frame. The star event has to be the PRCA Rodeo, which draws top professional cowboys who compete for more than US$1 million in prize purse by riding bucking broncos in front of thousands of spectators. While the festival does draw a certain amount of attention from animal rights groups, and fairly so, it pays to mention that Cheyenne Frontier Days is fully committed to the welfare of animals involved in the event. They closely abide by strict rules courtesy of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
Culturally, the festival’s history revisit glosses nicely over what was in a fact a messy affair in the American West. In the present day reenactment however, no one’s shooting, and all sides play nice in the name of good ol’ family fun. The Indian Village by Wind River Reservation serves as a showcase of Native American food, culture and craft, while ‘Frontier Town’ allows a glimpse of settler life.
History and rodeo aside, there are numerous carnivals and parades, bull riding, an air show by the US Air Force Thunderbirds, free pancake breakfasts, gunfight re-enactments, and performances by some of the majors in the country western music world.
A visit to Cheyenne during the spectacle is satisfying, bizarre, dusty, family-friendly, American to the core and full of folks wearing Wrangler jeans.
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