A Wyoming event billed as the "world’s largest outdoor rodeo" has been canceled for the first time in its 124-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This has been an incredibly difficult decision but we know it’s the right one. The health and safety of our fans, volunteers, contestants, first responders, healthcare workers and everyone in our community is the only thing that matters right now,” organizers for Cheyenne Frontier Days wrote Wednesday on the event's website.
Officials said they “explore every option,” including potentially postponing the event, but ultimately decided to cancel. They said they are shifting focus to plan the 125th “Daddy of ‘em All” next year.
Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr (R) told The Associated Press the risk of spreading the virus was too great for the more than 140,000 people who visit the city for the event in the last two weeks of July.
“What this pandemic means is we just can’t come together,” Orr told the AP. “We really have to stay apart so we can come together again sooner rather than later. It’s clear that we just aren’t going to be ready for this.”
Cheyenne Frontier Days draws top athletes in the rodeo field and a payout of more than $1 million, according to the AP.
“It’s a bummer that it’s shut down this year but I’m sure with the way Cheyenne rolls, it’s going to be way bigger and better next year,” Steston Wright, the bull-riding and all-around champion at last year’s Frontier Days, told the AP in a phone interview from Beaver, Utah. “That’s going to be one rodeo you don’t want to miss for fans and for contestants.”