Cheyenne Frontier Days – Cheyenne, Wyoming, U.S.A.
The World’s Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Western Collection – The “Daddy of ‘Em All”
The Cowboy State’s capital city was once nicknamed Hell on Wheels, and during the annual ride-‘em-cowboy Frontier Days celebration you’ll understand why. It was first held in 1897, a mere fifteen years after William Frederick Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, created the rodeo tradition with his traveling Wild West Show.
Today’s event is a ten-day carnival of rodeos, wild-horse races, marching bands, big-name country and rock concerts, inter-tribal Indian dancing, a chuck-wagon cook-off, free pancake breakfasts (at which more than 75,000 flapjacks and 475 gallons of syrup are consumed), and a parade that’s been led by some memorable names over the years – Buffalo Bill himself in 1898, and an enthusiastic Teddy Roosevelt in 1910.
Rodeo is a major sport these days, with big-name sponsors and growing television coverage, so its no surprise that Frontier Days brings upward of 500,000 visitors to Cheyenne every year, many decked out in their finest Western wear. More than 1,800 of the toughest cowboys from across the nation compete in standing-room-only events such as bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling (also called bulldogging), and the classic saddle and bareback bronc riding, with a purse of $1 million being split up among the winners.
In addition to Cheyenne’s events, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association sanctions about 680 rodeos yearly, including those in Houston (March); Cody, Wyoming (July 4th); Pendleton, Oregon (September); and the year’s finals in Las Vegas (December).