Rodeo promoters holding out hope season is not yet lost

JACKSON, Wyo. — With the rodeo season right around the corner, stock contractors, producers, and fans alike are keeping their fingers crossed the summer season is not impacted too severely by measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The high school rodeo season has been shortened by the pandemic. Early-season spring rodeos at Laramie, Rock Springs, and Big Piney have already been canceled with upcoming Newcastle (May 1-3), Gillette (May 7-10), Casper (May 15-16), Sheridan (May 23), and Buffalo (May 24-25) all in doubt.

The state rodeo finals are slated for June 1-6, and National High School Finals Rodeo at Lincoln, Nebraska are planned for July 19-25. How these events would come off on time with little-to-no standings from previous competitions remains to be seen.

Here in Jackson, the Jackson Hole Rodeo has been adversely affected but the hopes are to get a show in the arena sometime this summer.

“We went from having our busiest spring ever (with advanced ticket sales) to giving refunds,” said Phil Wilson, owner of WW Productions who runs the local rodeo twice weekly all summer. “Right in the middle of everything, we got shut down. But we’re basically ready to go if we get the word.”

Normally, this time of year, the Wilsons would be shuttling roughstock back to their home operations south of town and out to high school rodeos. Right now, though, rank bulls and bucking broncs are enjoying an extended stay at pasture while the world tries to figure out when it will be safe to gather in large numbers again.

“Once we get permission, we need to get things straightened out at the fairgrounds, but for now the tractor and water truck are ready to go,” Wilson said.

Optimistically, Cheyenne Frontier Days promoters are sticking to their summer schedule. The 143rd running of the “Daddy of ‘em All is set for its 9-day run July 18-26.

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