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Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo explain refunds and reasons for 2020 cancellation

(Trevor T. Trujillo, Oil City File)

CASPER, Wyo. — The 2020 Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo (CWFR) has been cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation of six large summer rodeos in Wyoming was announced by Governor Mark Gordon during a Wednesday, May 27 press conference..

“Today it is with heavy hearts that the Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo has made the hard decision to ultimately cancel this year’s Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo scheduled for July 3-11, 2020,” CWFR said in a Wednesday May, 27 news release. “This announcement is a collective, unified decision with Governor Mark Gordon, and our colleagues from Thermopolis, Cody, Sheridan, Laramie and Cheyenne.”

The governor explained that health and safety of rodeo-goers, participants and communities led to the collective decision to cancel the rodeos. CWFR General Manager Tom Jones said in the rodeo’s release that while the decision is emotional, organizers are looking forward to the 2021 rodeo.

“While we are feeling all sorts of things about this decision, we appreciate your understanding,” Jones said. “For now, please save the date for next year’s event- July 9-17, 2021 and plan to Stirrup Some Fun!”

People who had already purchased tickets for the 2020 Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo have three options, according to a “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the CWFR website. Ticket holders can:

  • keep tickets to use at the 2021 Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo
  • request a refund by July 31
  • donate the price of the ticket to help the event’s committee recoup costs from the 2020 cancellation

Those wishing to roll over their tickets for use in 2021 can either contact CWFR to let them know or do nothing and tickets will automatically roll over after July 31.

The CWFR says the cancellation could have significant impact to tourism in the area. Visit Casper CEO Brook Kaufman said on Wednesday that the 2019 CWFR brought in about $4.4 million in direct economic impacts to the local economy which includes the following types of visitor spending:

  • lodging
  • transportation
  • food and beverages
  • retail
  • recreation
  • space rentals

“These celebrations bring in substantial tourism revenues that
cannot be recouped,” CWFR said of the rodeo cancellations. “Significant losses are going to occur as our events attract thousands of visitors who buy tickets, hotel rooms and boost our downtowns.”

“Exact numbers are difficult to predict but in time we will recover. Not risking a resurgence of potential viral infections far outweighs staging events that attract large crowds to relatively small spaces.”

While safety was the main reason for the cancellation of the rodeos, CWFR adds that there were other factors.

“There are just too many unknowns at this point with COVID and that has ultimately left us with few options,” they said in the FAQ. “Social distancing guidelines and plans were explored thoroughly, but logistics beyond just ingress and egress proved too hard to overcome.”

“For example, how do beer and food sales work or a carnival or a parade? We could not implement a strategy that would not destroy our event experience or endanger the health and safety of our communities, guests and participants.”

The Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo website has further information about the cancellation as well as contact information available.

The rodeo shared a link to Travel Wyoming’s “State of Rodeo in Wyoming – 2020” video which was also played during Wednesday’s press conference:

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.