A few weeks ago, my Mom visited Colorado for the first time. We took a trip up to Cheyenne so she could check Wyoming off her list (her flight into Denver was diverted to Wichita, so she got 3 new states out of the trip). While there, my wife and I saw that Frontier Days was coming up and decided, “that looks like fun”. When we got home, we bought tickets for Saturday, July 23rd. Frontier Days opened on the 22nd and goes until the 30th, so it will probably be over by the time you read this (I am writing on the 25th). But it will be back next year.
I wasn’t planning a review article, so my pictures are lacking. I will supplement with stock photos. I am also doing zero research on this, so actual facts may be entirely wrong.
What is Frontier Days? Primarily it is a rodeo. There is a daily rodeo from 1 to 4 PM, leading up to the finals on the last day. This year is the 126th Frontier Days, and I believe it is the oldest extant rodeo in the world. There are also concerts every night, mostly of the country variety, so I have no idea of the quality, but I think they get some top acts. And a fairgrounds with rides and meat on a stick and that kind of stuff. Smaller than a state fair (but then again, this is Wyoming, so maybe it was size appropriate) but larger than a county fair.
My wife commented that she was pretty sure she had ridden one of the rides…not the same type, but that literal ride. I had the same feeling about the Alpine Bobs ride. It was 40 years ago, but I am pretty sure it was that exact one.
The travelling FDNY 9/11 exhibit was there. We checked it out, it was interesting. I realized all of the kids visiting the exhibit were born after that event. 9/11 will be old enough to legally drink later this year.
We left the Greater Fort Collins Metropolitan Area about 10:45, with plans to park at the park & ride next to Warren AFB, to avoid fighting traffic for closer, more expensive parking. Our parking choice was only $15. As I arrived at the gate, a sign said “Have Payment Ready”. I had my card in hand, when I pulled up and realized the person had a big wad of cash in their hand. Shit. I reached with card and said “Cash only?”. She said, “Yes…[saw the look on my face]…go on in.” So Wyoming has hospitality for stupid outsiders going for it. And this is the point where I admit to being a bad libertarian and rarely carrying cash on my person. I mean, really, I know better.
Short school bus ride to entrance gate. We have 45 minutes or so until rodeo starts, but decide to get to our seats early, while checking out what we want to hit later on. The 9/11 exhibit was basically it.
It has been a long time since I have been to a rodeo. And that was in Louisville. My wife and daughter had never been to one. There is always something to watch going on. Between events you had trick riders and lasso girls and all kinds of other side activities on display. The events themselves were rodeo events, if you have seen them, you know what it is. If you haven’t, I am not sure I can describe them anyway, checkout the videos at the end as a flavor.
But I have general comments on the character of the event. This is the least woke sporting event in America. I even think it started going the other way, going out of their way to be anti-woke. They were trying a bit too hard, in my opinion. Let me give an example. As some sort of right/paleo-libertarian who is also an evangelical Christian, I have no problem with a prayer before the event. In fact, considering the danger to participants and animals alike, I can’t think of a better event to have a pregame prayer for. And if they had done that, I wouldn’t have had an issue. But they felt the need to announce that they STILL have a prayer before their event. I felt it was a bit unnecessary. Sure, they were playing a bit to their demographic, which is nice, considering how many major sporting powers completely whiff on that (I am looking at you, NASCAR). It was a small thing, but there were a few moments like that. My advice: You don’t need to be actively anti-woke, just don’t be woke.
Other assorted random comments in no particular order:
At one point a woman walked thru the stands carrying a large Liz Cheney sign. No reaction from the crowd. Not boos, not cheers. Just ambivalence. I think the locals all know she is going down in her primary in a few weeks.
The Hispanic guys sitting next to me were drinking Modelo Especial. Playing right into some sort of stereotype.
I have never seen as many horses fall down as I did that day. They all got back up and continued on. Rodeo horses are a stronger breed than thoroughbreds.
One horse got away and jumped the fence to the stage, then off the stage to the surrounding track and was headed straight toward the grandstand, until some of the trick riders scared it away.
There was a Ladies Saddle Bronc event. Only 1 woman stayed on for 8 seconds. There is a reason women have different events in the rodeo.
The night before, I saw 3 people masked at Costco. At Frontier Days, I saw zero.
We plan to go back next year, make more of a day of it. My daughter will be a year older, maybe I will let her do a sketchy carnival ride or three.