Gather ’round young’uns! Uncle Sam’s about to spin you a yarn about how the west was fun!I just got back from a little field trip to Wyoming, where I enjoyed a delightful down-home good time at Cheyenne Frontier Days!
Cheyenne Frontier Days is one of the largest and oldest ongoing outdoor rodeos and western celebrations in the world. Every year since 1897, cowpokes and cowpoke-ettes from across this great nation have followed their manifest destinies to the Wyoming State Capital for dazzling displays of horsemanship, country cooking, traditional tunes, and an authentic American experience.
I couldn’t resist the opportunity to participate in this long-running celebration of the land that I love. Even though I’m an equal opportunity patriot and I try not to play regional favorites between these United States, I’m a westerner at heart. I grew up in the rocky mountains, my great uncle Larry had a career as a champion bronco rider (until his spine couldn’t withstand being thrown from a horse from 9 to 5 every day and he transitioned to judging horsemanship shows), and sometimes I suspect that I’m more socially adept with animals than human interactions.
Friday morning I packed up my Subaru and drove to Cheyenne, Wyoming. I pitched my tent at The Last Chance Camp, six miles from the County Fairgrounds.
It’s highly likely that I was the only plant-based, politically liberal, radical, freakazoid in the trailer park. I know for a FACT that I was the only person who rode his bike from camp to the fairgrounds. Neither of these facts diminished my enjoyment of the accommodations in the slightest. My neighbors were friendly, and they played some great tunes on their RVs’ souped up sound systems.
After establishing camp and biking to the fairgrounds I made a beeline for my favorite attraction at any rodeo: the livestock. I purchased a cup of carrots for animal feed and proceeded to get cute-overloaded in the petting zoo.Did you know that the North American Dromedary Camel played a VITAL role in settling the western frontier? Noble pioneers crossed the great Midwestern plains astride these beasts’ magnificent humps!Frontiersmen and women relied on camels as sturdy pack animals, as well as sources of protein and textiles. All of the most well-prepared covered wagon trains carried camel-jerky in their provisions. Woven camel-hair is waterproof, reflective for up to 300 meters, and protects against UV radiation, which is why the Native American Indians kept herd of Camels on the Nebraska Prairie. You can trust me on these absolutely true facts…I have a Ph.D.
Once I finished communing with the animals and engaging in revisionist history I wandered around the authentic reproduction western village to engage in retail therapy and minor mischief.
Enticing aromas from the chuck-wagon cookoff whetted my appetite, so I next made a beeline for the carnival midway to experience classic western cooking!
Did you know that Lewis and Clark survived in the wilderness for three months on a diet of Funnel Cake?
After indulging in a few thousand calories worth of deep-fried delights, I decided to settle my stomach with a ride on the Ferris Wheel.
The high-altitude amusement might not have been the best choice to silence my screaming small intestines, but once I got over my initial vertigo I was rewarded with a pretty killer view. As the sun began to dip behind the horizon, I contemplated that old Cherokee saying: “Frontier Days must be followed by Frontier Nights.” This night was no exception, so I proceeded to the arena and whet my whistle while waiting for the evening’s musical entertainment.
Cheyenne Frontier Days books a pretty amazing line-up of musical acts each year. Last night was no exception.
Last night I crossed an item off of my personal bucket list: I witnessed the pyrotechnics- and patriotism-filled spectacle of slurred words, slick riffs, rocking beats, honky-tonk twang, and somewhat unsettling lyrics that is a Toby Keith concert.
Not only did I get to watch Toby weave his way around stage and belt out his true-blue ballads, Trace Adkins played the opening set!
Both artists were awesome, but I must say that Trace Adkins truly impressed me with his musicality, and stage-presence. That long-haired old cowboy can still rock an arena after all these years!
The concert was a total blast and the perfect way to cap off my wild western day!This morning I watched the sun rise over the trailer park and went for a quick little run on the blessedly flat Wyoming plains. I was humming “Beer for my Horses” to myself the entire time.
I highly recommend hitting up Cheyenne Frontier Days if you’re ever out west during the end of July. No matter what underlying assumptions you carry about cowboy culture, I predict that between the petting zoo, the shopping, the carnival, and the concerts there’s something for almost everyone at the world’s largest rodeo!
Have you ever been to a State Fair?
What’s your favorite Country Western song?
What’s your favorite crazy state-fair food?