Feb
23

A Real Old West Experience – Frontier Days in Wyoming

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This is a wonderful guest post from Carol Atkins who kindly wrote about a visit to Cheyenne, Wyoming in search of the Old West. 

Cheyenne Frontier DaysMy husband Ed and I are from Fort Worth, Texas, so we grew up with tales of cowboys and cattle drives.

When we went to Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, we wanted an authentic taste of the Old West.

We did it all – parades, rodeos and concerts. The whole experience was a blast! I was glad we had booked early, because this 10 day event draws huge crowds, understandable since it has been held every year since 1897. Of course, I love a celebration, and the Frontier Days Parade was an exquisite way to kick off our vacation in Cheyenne. I got into the spirit of things when a horse drawn stagecoach came by, driven by two cowboys in jeans, hats and boots. I overheard a man dressed up as a cowboy tell someone the origin of the term “riding shotgun” was from the stagecoach days, when the man next to the driver carried a shotgun to protect against bandits and Indians. I’d never heard that, but it made perfect sense.

When we first got to Cheyenne, I was a little self-conscious about wearing boots, jeans and my cowboy hat – I’m not sure why – but it turns out I had nothing to worry about. Almost everyone lining the streets was in Western clothes, and I felt right at home. As Miss Frontier and her court rode by, I wondered how much their outfits cost with all the bangles and sparkly things on them. I mentioned that to Ed, but of course, didn’t get much of a response.

Our second morning we tried the pancake breakfast, a big event in itself. There was a lot of rich food, and a sense of hospitality that fit right in with the Old West mindset of Frontier Days. We met some great people – Fred and Edie from New York said this was the first time they had been out west, and they were enchanted by the whole experience. They wanted to see the “Behind The Chutes Tour” at the rodeo grounds, so we all headed over to get a look behind the scenes at the Frontier Days Rodeo. The New Yorkers told us all they had learned about rodeos, and Ed and I politely listened, even though we’d been going to rodeos since we were kids.

frontierdays1

They told us the rodeo has origins in the cattle drive. As cowboys had to “brand” their herds before moving north to the railroads, where the markets were, they used ropes from horseback to bring down the calves. The skill needed to actually rope a fast moving calf was phenomenal. Fred said that they had been to the rodeo the night before and it was one of the most thrilling experiences of their lives. Steer wrestling had similar origins – a cowboy riding on a horse twirled a rope around their head and caught a steer to rope and tie it up. As the cowboys got better and better, competitions naturally arose, and they began roping for time, which led to events like the Frontier Days Rodeo.

As we toured the chutes where the bull riders emerged, Edie said she wasn’t sure where bull riding came from, but she had never seen anything like it. A cowboy would voluntarily get on top of a huge bull – she was in awe of the whole concept – and when it was released, try to stay on top of it for 8 seconds. She said it felt much longer than that. There was also barrel racing, team roping, saddle bronc riding and of course, the rodeo clowns mixed in.

After we promised to meet Fred and Edie for pancakes the next morning, they set out to an art show, and Ed and I went to see the Native American music and dancing at Indian Village. After that, we would go back to the hotel for a rest. I had booked tickets online for a concert by one of my favorite singers for that evening, and I couldn’t wait. There was so much to do at Frontier Days, I knew we would get a taste of the Old West that I’d remember for a long time.

Carol Atkins has been traveling the globe for much of her life; she’s a travel-holic. She loves of all types of travel adventures including island hopping, hiking, biking and being lazy on the beach :). She was recently in Wyoming with her family and enjoyed an authentic frontier rodeo!

Follow her on twitter @atkins_carol

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Photos made available under a Creative Commons license by Flickr User Adrian Hu

Comments

  1. Cool experience…I’m more of a “city slicker” myself, but this would be a good way to experience Wyoming. A friend of mine actually lives in Cheyenne and works for one of the TV stations. I wonder if he went…

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