Maybe it’s the Western culture that surrounds it, the history behind it or the no-holds-barred displays of courage and expertise, but rodeo is unlike any other sport. Sure, watching expert cowboys ride like rag dolls on the backs of 2,000-pound animals is enough to set it apart from, say, baseball. But rodeo is also about authentic Old Western spirit, camaraderie among competitors and raw emotion in the arena. Nowhere else can you truly witness the essence of Wyoming quite like this.
Animated announcers, rodeo clowns and fans create the atmosphere of a show; however, it’s not just a performance for those competing. Rodeo is a way of life and a profession for cowboys and cowgirls, who travel across the West making their living by bronc and bull riding, calf roping and barrel racing. This is serious stuff — contestants pay fees to participate in each event, and they don’t get paid unless they win. It’s an occupation born in the days of the Wild West, when excellent horsemanship was a necessity on the ranch, as it still is in many places in Wyoming today. Back then, working cowboys would show off their riding and roping talents to one another, sometimes competing with neighboring outfits. Eventually, these get-togethers moved into towns as organized “bucking shows,” which gained popularity in part due to Buffalo Bill Cody’s traveling Wild West Show.
Must-see Wyoming Rodeo Events
Although you can find one in almost any town, there are certainly some standout rodeo events in Wyoming. Lander claims the oldest paid rodeo in the world, the Lander Pioneer Days Rodeo. Since 1893, it has been a Fourth of July tradition, drawing the best of the best riders. The Annual Cody Stampede is another Independence Day favorite, and the town also hosts the Cody Nite Rodeo every evening all summer long.
Then, there’s the “Daddy of ’Em All,” the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo . The 10-day event attracts more than 10,000 contestants, including some of the nation’s top rodeo cowboys, all vying for a piece of the million-dollar purse. The festival offers more than just bucking broncs, Frontier Days features nightly concerts by top musicians, a carnival, merchants selling everything from elaborate silver belt buckles to huckleberry barbecue sauce, and even some late-night line dancing.
Get to know Wyoming Rodeo
Whether you’re a longtime fan or you’ve never seen a horse buck — you’re sure to get swept up in the culture, entertainment and excitement of Wyoming rodeo. For more information, check out the Rodeo Hand blog for Team Wyoming info and updates, schedule of events around the state, action-packed videos and twitter updates.