Cheyenne’s Frontier Days seems like a vacation unlike any other. In Cindy Bigras’ article we hear about her travel into a historic time. With galleries of old pictures, rodeos, and parades, it seems you get first hand experience of the old wild west.
Beautiful horses pull western themed, horse drawn surreys, ambulances, fire wagons, and meat wagons. Another tasty Frontier tradition begins with 5,000 pounds of batter, 650 lbs of butter, and 450 gallons of syrup, 4,000 lbs. of ham and 8,000 pints of milk. A hundred thousand pancakes will be served free to waiting throngs of visitors three times during the week.
So I join the “Behind the Chutes Tour” at the entrance to the rodeo grounds. Chutes are the pens from which animals are released for their events.This is a great opportunity to see things up close. The open-air arena’s ground is dirt, the air is dry and the sun is hot. I will own a cowboy hat within an hour, and my sensitive skin will appreciate that the super wide brim protects my entire face and neck. I always wondered why cowboy hats looked like that. Now I know.
Next up is steer wrestling. A cowboy on horseback chases after a steer, ropes it around the horns, brings it to the ground, then jumps from his horse and ties up three of the steer’s legs – all this in 30 seconds! If the cowboy and his horse don’t operate as a team, there will be no chance at a prize. The partnership between animal and rider is an integral part of rodeo success, just as it was in the days when ranching ruled these plains.
Then come steer roping, tie-down roping, and saddle bronc riding, some events for rookies, others for seniors. Finally, the cowgirls on horseback charge out for the barrel racing, maneuvering in patterns around three barrels, kicking up dust, hats flying. Against the dusty background, the bright colors of their sequined outfits sparkle as they roar by.