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.”