Yesterday afternoon and evening, we took a trip up to Cheyenne, WY to check out the Cheyenne Frontier Days (read: a very, VERY big fair and rodeo that is about 90 minutes away.) We were interested in seeing the CFDs as a stand-alone event but an extra driving factor for us going last night was that Peggy and Chloe had tickets to see the Taylor Swift concert. We were accompanied by some friends, John and his son Evan (a classmate of Chloe's), as John is a native Cheyenner and could guide us around.
We got up there mid-afternoon with only about an hour left in the day's rodeo event. And with the kids seeing rides, games and fair food galore, we realized there was no way we'd be able to get them to sit for the next 60 minutes. So we strolled the fairgrounds and moseyed through the livestock stables for a while. One group of animals stood out - a team of Percheron horses that were brought in from Texas. I can't recall all of the specs on them, but here are some averages: weight of 1,800 lbs.; height of 6'2" at the withers (shoulders); drink about 20-30 gallons of water a day.
After Evan and Chloe did some rides and chugged down some cream soda, we made our way to the other side of the fairgrounds to take the "Behind the Chutes Tour." While waiting for the tour to begin, I checked out a wonderful bronze statue of a professional bull rider named Lane Frost. In 1989, he was riding a bull in the arena we were about to take a tour of. He got off the bull after a successful 8 second ride, only to be charged by the bull and knocked violently to the ground, and then charged again. It was suspected the bull broke some ribs, which in turn severed a major artery. He collapsed in the arena and died.
Once the tour started, we got a close up look of the "broncs" and bulls, steers and calves that the rodeo athletes were contending with, as well a walk across the rodeo arena and by and in the chutes themselves. A few things stood out on this tour:
1) The tour leader mentioned there were 1,800 athletes competing in the 12 day event.
2) The animals look a lot bigger in person then they do on TV... some bulls approach the 1 ton mark.
3) The bulls looked ticked off just standing in the corrals, so I could only imagine how unhappy they become when riders are their back and some ropes have tied around their torsos.
4) The ground in the arena is anything but soft... it has a little give. Very little.
After the tour, we made our way back to the food concessions for some dinner so Peggy and Chloe could go enjoy the concert in their new cowboy hats... when in Rome, eh? While Peggy and Chloe were toe-tappin' and boot-slappin' the night away, John, Evan, John's parents (who had come to join us) and I bided our time on the Midway and in the expo halls (I was particularly impressed by a pair of ostrich skin boots... not enough to buy them of course.)
At the start of the second encore, I got a call from Peg saying they were heading out... they were having a great time, but, since it was close to 11:00p, Chloe was running on empty. So they met up with us outside the arena, and we made our way back to our cars to begin the trek home... and make plans for going back next year.
(Pictures, top to bottom: Chloe and Evan doing some Elephant riding (x2); Chloe in the chutes; some of the bulls riders will get on during the rodeo (x2))