Rodeo Go/No Go
Rodeos across Wyoming were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic with one exception: The Cody Stampede.
The following article appeared in Oil City News.
FIVE WYOMING RODEOS STILL A NO-GO AS CODY STAMPEDE BREAKS FROM CANCELLATION ANNOUNCEMENTS
By Brendan LaChance on May 29, 2020
Crowds soak in the action at the Central Wyoming Rodeo on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in Casper. According to the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo’s website, Casper’s first fair on record was held in 1904. The current fairgrounds were purchased in 1948. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
CASPER, Wyo. — While the Cody Stampede Board said on Friday, May 29 that they are looking to move forward with plans to hold rodeo events this summer, five other large summer Wyoming rodeos have not budged from cancellation announcements amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cancellation of six large summer rodeos was announced by Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon and rodeo organizers during a Wednesday, May 27 press conference. It was announced that organizers of the following rodeos had agreed to cancel their rodeos, citing safety and logistics concerns:
However, the Cody Stampede Board on Friday said their board had not made any decision to cancel their rodeo.
“To the contrary, it remains our goal to host our Cody Nite Rodeo and the Cody Stampede in 2020,” they said. “We have been extremely excited to showcase another top-notch professional rodeo, the first Stampede that we are scheduled to host after being inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in August of 2019.”
While the Cody Stampede Board said they had not been involved in any “rodeo task force” decision to cancel, Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo General Manager Tom Jones said on Friday that decision cancellations were up to the board of each individual rodeo.
He noted that the Central Wyoming Fair & Rodeo Board had voted unanimously to cancel. Jones said that discussions involving organizers of all six rodeos was never really a formal “task force” but rather a means to facilitate discussions between the various rodeo organizers and state officials.
T.J. Owsley with the Thermopolis Cowboy Rendezvous told Oil City on Friday that he was surprised at the Cody Stampede Board’s announcement.
Owsley said that a Cody Stampede representative had been part of the so–called task force’s discussions. He added that it won’t be financially feasible for the Thermopolis rodeo to be held this summer.
Michael Pearlman, communications director for the governor, confirmed on Friday that a Cody Stampede organizer participated in the discussions involving representatives of each of the six rodeos. He said that the governor’s office had no further comment on the Cody Stampede Board’s announcement.
Owsley’s perspective is similar to one shared by Guy Warpness with Laramie Jubilee Days. Warpness said on Friday that the Laramie rodeo board voted unanimously to cancel. While some may be disgruntled that rodeos can’t go on this summer, he said that financial considerations were a driving factor in the decision.
“We simply don’t have any other choice,” he said, noting that the cancellation decision was not made because the governor or state forced them to do so.
Warpness said that COVID-19 health safety guidelines were another factor in the decision. He added that he had not heard that the Cody Stampede Board did not plan to go along with the task force’s collective decision prior to Friday’s announcement.
The governor’s office announced on Wednesday that updated COVID-19 public health orders are set to go into effect June 1, which will allow outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people.
Besides the Cody Stampede Board, the other rodeos have posted cancellation information on their websites or social media pages and have not announced any variations from Wednesday’s cancellation announcement as of 11 am Friday.
The Cody Stampede Board said they will look to move forward with rodeo events this summer.
“Even though the Governor announced on May 27, 2020 that there would be small rodeos in Wyoming, our variance request for the Cody Nite Rodeo was denied on the very same day,” they said. “We are submitting another variance request, and we hope the Governor will stand by his word and approve it.”
The Cody Stampede went on as scheduled in 2020, despite an original announcement that it may be canceled. The following article appeared in Cowboy State Daily.
Cody Stampede Vows To Hold Nite Rodeo Despite Earlier Announcement
Published on May 29, 2020
By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Organizers of the Cody Stampede are working to hold the July rodeo as scheduled despite an announcement earlier this week it would be canceled.
The Stampede’s organizing board said its members never agreed to the cancellation announced Wednesday by Gov. Mark Gordon and officials from rodeos across the state.
“The Rodeo Task Force that worked with the Governor made a decision as a group to cancel major rodeos this summer,” the organizing board said in an announcement posted to Facebook on Friday. “However, our Board operates independently from that special task force and their decisions are not reflective of our position.”
Gordon said after six weeks of discussions with rodeo officials from across the state, the officials agreed it would be impossible to maintain social distancing while holding their various events.
But the organizing board said it will seek an exemption from statewide health rules to allow the 101st annual Stampede to be held as scheduled July 1-4. The board also said it will try to operate the Cody Nite Rodeo as scheduled through the summer.
The board stated it never approved or even voted on any positions the task force has taken and that it never made any official decision to cancel any of the rodeos.
An announcement on the Cody Stampede’s website alerts visitors to check its Facebook page for up to date information.
The board submitted a variance request to the Wyoming Department of Health to hold the Cody Nite Rodeo, but it was denied on Wednesday, the same day as the cancellation announcements.
The board was surprised by this denial, since Gordon announced small rodeos would be allowed this summer, capping the number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings to 250 people at most.
“Even though the Governor announced on May 27, 2020 that there would be small rodeos in Wyoming, our variance request for the Cody Nite Rodeo was denied on the very same day,” the Facebook posting said. “We are submitting another variance request, and we hope the Governor will stand by his word and approve it.
“It remains our goal to host our Cody Nite Rodeo and the Cody Stampede in 2020,” the statement continued. “We have been extremely excited to showcase another top-notch professional rodeo, the first Stampede that we are scheduled to host after being inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in August of 2019.”