CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Speaking on behalf of the six large summer rodeos in Wyoming, Cheyenne Frontier Days President Tom Hirsig asked for people to pray for the members of their rodeo families who were struggling.
Hirsig’s comments came after Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon announced during a live press conference that large events like Cheyenne Frontier Days would need to be canceled this year due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other rodeos mentioned during the conference were the Cody Stampede, the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, Laramie Jubilee Days, Thermopolis Cowboy Rendevous PRCA Rodeo and the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo.
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“I was asked by this group of prestigious Wyoming rodeos to act as a spokesperson to talk about the process we went through to get to this point,” Hirsig said in his opening comments.
Hirsig went on to thank the Governor for the time he committed to trying to find a way for the large rodeos to take place this summer.
“There is no doubt that the Governor loves the sport of Rodeo,” Hirsig said.
Hirsig spent a moment to thank the volunteers from the six large rodeos for all of the work that they already put in this year.
“They put many hours into planning these events. This was not season that they were hoping for,” he said.
Hirsog said he hoped that each of their communities would find a way to thank all of the hard work and effort that the volunteers had put in.
“They deserve at least that.”
Hirsog explained the process that he and the other rodeo heads went through to come to the decision to cancel their events.
“We worked hard as a group. Brainstorming – trying to find solutions. But it became clear to each of us that some of the iconic components of our events could not logistically take place due to social distancing,” Hirsig lamented.
He cited parades, carnivals, concerts, indian villages, street dances as things that were made successful due to the “lack of social distancing.”
“These components create excitement and leaves the fans wanting to come back for more. There is only one way to build your events and that is to make them bigger and better every year. When you consider social distancing would eliminate core pieces of your event then it can become very common,” Hirsig added.
According to Hirsig, aside from the health concerns, there were other factors that played into their decision to cancel their rodeos.
He said that there was a concern over having enough volunteer personnel to put on the events. Hirsig said that due to many of their volunteers being a part of the at-risk-population or have family members who were was something they considered.
“They are part of our family and asking them to risk their health was not something we were willing to do.”
Hirsig said that many of the sponsors were already hurting from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He offered that it would be a struggle for sponsors to be able to support these events in the same fashion they had in prior years.
He continued on by saying that delaying a decision to cancel would have cost them more money in promoting an event that there was no guarentee could take place.
“The closer you get, the more you spend.” Hirsig said.
Hirsig asked for people to pray for those in their “rodeo family” that are going to be impacted by the cancelations.
“Cowboys, cowgirls, stock contractors, announcers are struggling and we need to pray for them during these times.
Hirsig said they relied on state health officials to help guide them to their decision and that there were no hard feelings.
“We all sat in a Zoom room, listened to what they had to say. We might not like the way it all turned out, but we left shaking hands virtually. There was no animosity because that is how we do business in the state of Wyoming.”