An emotional Gordon explains painful decision to cancel major Wyoming rodeos in COVID era - Casper, WY Oil City News
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An emotional Gordon explains painful decision to cancel major Wyoming rodeos in COVID era

Governor Mark Gordon is flanked by officials from Wyoming’s major rodeos during a briefing on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in Cheyenne. (Wyoming PBS via YouTube)

Governor Mark Gordon made a somewhat un-governor statement on Wednesday.

“This coronavirus thing sucks.”

Gordon, flanked by six officials from Wyoming’s major rodeos, couldn’t hold back his emotions during a live briefing as he announced the previously unimaginable cancelation of Wyoming’s 2020 rodeo season.

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“No one hates this more than me,” he said.

A brief pause followed before he continued with a quivering voice.

“This decision was not an easy one, I grew up around rodeo and rodeoed myself.”

As did his father, Crawford Gordon, who the governor said competed in the Cowboy Turtles Association before the Rodeo Cowboys Association was formed.

The six rodeos include the Thermopolis Cowboy Rendezvous, Cody Stampede, Casper’s Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo, Sheridan WYO Rodeo, Laramie Jubilee Days, and the Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Gordon said the decision to ultimately cancel the season was made over multiple Zoom meetings with each rodeo committee leader. Health officials say the novel coronavirus can spread extremely quickly among crowds, and social distancing during popular rodeos was seen as impossible.

Cancelation of the Cheyenne rodeo alone could mean the loss of more than $25 million in tourist spending, according to previous CFD numbers.

But perhaps even more important than money, the governor and Cheyenne Frontier Days CEO Tom Hirsig both expressed the emotional impact of temporarily losing the annual celebrations of Wyoming’s history and culture.

“In my soul I know how important these events are to our communities and our citizens,” said Gordon.

Below is a video celebrating Wyoming rodeo and explaining its 2020 pause. The video was produced by Travel Wyoming and shown during the Wednesday afternoon briefing.

The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:

What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email:

  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.