Cheyenne Frontier Days is the latest event to be canceled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It's the first time that the Wyoming event, known as the world's largest outdoor rodeo, has been called off in its 124-year history. More than 140,000 people annually attend, and organizers believed there was too much risk for this year's installment to be held. It was scheduled to run from Friday, July 17 through Sunday, July 26.
"What this pandemic means is we just can't come together," Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr told the Associated Press. "We really have to stay apart so we can come together again sooner rather than later. It's clear that we just aren't going to be ready for this."
Frontier Days, commonly referred to as the "Daddy of 'em All," is a community-wide event that features a rodeo, concerts, carnival rides, parades, and pancake breakfasts for thousands of people. The champion of the rodeo is the Frontier Days belt buckle, which is one of the most sought-after prizes in the sport. In addition, there is more than $1 million in prize money handed out to the top competitors.
COVID-19 hasn't hit Wyoming as hard as many other states. There have been just 14 coronavirus-related deaths as of Wednesday in what is the least-populated state in America. Still, officials felt cancelling Cheyenne Frontier Days was the safest route to take.
"We worked hard as a group," Frontier Days President and CEO Tom Hirsig said in a press conference with Gov. Mark Gordon. "One of the worst things we could do would be to cause our state to go backward in the recovery process."