If anyone has been wondering where I’ve been the past few days, (thank you for missing me, by the way!) I’ve been down in Cheyenne at Frontier Days, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo. Taking place over 10 days, this annual event transfers this usually somnambulant city into a bustling boom town, with up to 200,000 people pouring in to watch the rodeo known as the ‘daddy of ‘em all’ .
As well as the daily rodeo events, there are evening concerts featuring world-standard acts (I saw country legend Merle Haggard, who is still alive and kicking ... just!), city parades, an Indian village, free pancake breakfasts, art exhibitions and a carnival. It’s a sea of white cowboys hat and hot chap-clad asses, while the bars in town and at the fairground are swarming with drunks looking for a good time and the occasional fight. All in all, it’s crazy fun, and an authentic slice of western culture.
(Merle looking a little haggard)
(the fairground from the top of the ferris wheel)
(the biggest collection of antique horse-drawn carriages in the world)
What really impresses me about this event, which is over a hundred years old, is that it’s all run by volunteers. There are only seven paid Frontier Days employees: everyone else - from the builders who construct and paint Wild Horse Gulch (the shopping arcade) during the year, to maintenance, cleaners, parking attendants and even officials - is voluntary.
Three times a week, 400 Kiwani volunteers serve up a free pancake breakfast to up to 15,000 people; this alone is an enormous feat, with the whole operation a seamless production line of pancake flippers, coffee servers, syrup pourers and ham stackers keeping the hearty feast on the move.
(my friend Barb serving coffee at the pancake breakfast)
(pancake breakfast in Depot Square)
While Cheyenne isn’t exactly local or Frontier Days anything to do with life at Paradise Ranch, I thought I’d share some of my favourite photos from my little holiday off the range. I’ll be back with ranch business tomorrow, promise!