CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said during a Wednesday, May 27 press conference that a number of rodeos around the state will be cancelled this summer due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because so much rides on these decisions, we held off as long as we could,” Gordon said of the cancellation of six rodeos across Wyoming.
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However, he said that the decision was made to cancel the rodeos since “the risk of failure could set these rodeos back for years to come.” The risk of spreading the virus from large crowds and travel were cited as factors in the decision.
Gordon said that the decision to cancel the rodeos was not made by the state alone, but was a joint decision involving discussions with rodeo organizers and others around the state.
Cheyenne Frontier Days president and CEO Tom Hirsig thanked Gordon on behalf of the organizers of the six rodeos during Wednesday’s press conference.
“There is no doubt the governor loves the sport of rodeo,” he said.
He noted the safety concerns around COVID-19 that went into the decision and added that economic concerns were also factors.
“All of these events are going to suffer financial loss just by cancelling,” Hirsig said.
He added that promotional costs leading up to an event that might not be able to go on were a difficulty for organizers.
“The closer you get, the more you spend,” Hirsig said, adding that some sponsors for the rodeos are also in tough financial situations due to the pandemic.
Other Wyoming summer rodeos which will be cancelled include:
- Cheyenne Frontier Days
- Cody Stampede
- Sheridan WYO Rodeo
- Laramie Jubilee Days
- Thermopolis Cowboy Rendevous PRCA Rodeo
Gordon’s office announced on Wednesday new public health orders set to go into effect June 1 which will allow outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people. However, attendance at large rodeos like CFD tends to exceed these limits.
A Dean Runyan Associates economic impacts study conducted for Visit Casper on the 2018 CNFR found $1.87 million in “direct economic impact” for the local economy. Visit Casper say that visitors spent $295 million in Natrona County in 2018.
Oil City reached out to Visit Casper on Wednesday to see if economic impact data for the Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo was also available, but did not receive an immediate response.
Direct economic impacts from tourists spending money is not the only economic impact of the CNFR. The Dean Runyans study found that secondary economic impacts, which include things like travel industry employees spending money, was about $545,000, bringing the total economic impact of the 2018 CNFR to an estimated $2.415 million.
This appears to be the first time that the Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo has been cancelled since it found a home in Casper in 1947. Rodeos, however, were held in Casper and Natrona County as early as 1904, according to the Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo’s history webpage:
In 1904 the town of Casper, then just 15 years old, held its first fair on record. The state-wide celebration, known as the Industrial Convention was organized, and all surrounding counties were invited to contribute to the exhibitions.
Without a permanent fairgrounds, Casper’s earliest fairs and rodeos were held in many different places. It’s believed that there were rodeo events hosted in the Garden Creek and Mountain View areas, and in 1914 the first annual County Fair was held … well, somewhere! Sept. 23-25. Even the 3rd floor of the Natrona County High School was used to showcase fair exhibits. The first rodeo was produced by Leo Cramer of Big Timber, MT, and he later formed a partnership with Harry Knight, producing the rodeo in Casper for several years. After a time, Harry Knight was partnered with the legendary Gene Autry, and finally, took over producing rodeo without a partner.
In 1947, the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo finally found a home! Along with the excitement of the rodeo, the fair’s early years offered up shows with acts like Stan Volera on the Sway Pole, The Pribels, Outstanding Circus Clowns (1953) and “Henry’s Liberty Ponies” (1957). Entertainment ranged from cowboy crooners “The Sons of the Pioneers” (1953) to country boy Eddie Arnold (1966) to “The Rajun Cajun” Doug Kershaw in 1975. And every carnival pulled folks in with food, games and thrilling rides with names like Mad Mouse, Super Twister and Zipper!Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.