The Cowboy Way
A VISIT TO THE COWBOY STATE JUST WOULDN'T BE COMPLETE without taking in a rodeo! Each year, Casper is proud to play host to the world's best rodeo athletes. With the College National Finals Rodeo and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Casper is the place to see the best amateur and professional cowboys and cowgirls. Featuring such crowd-pleasing events like bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc, barrel racing and roping events, these two rodeos offer some of the best action in the country. They're not the only games in town - in 2005, The Chris Ledoux Tribute Rodeo was voted "Small Rodeo of the Year" by the PRCA in its inaugural year. And high school rodeo, not to mention Casper College's Ropin' & Riggin', are events for those whose tastes bend to kickin' up a little dust!
Rodeo began not as a sport, but from the practice of herding cattle - and a little competitive nature, first in Spain and Mexico, and spreading to places like Canada, Brazil and Australia. But nowhere has the tradition been carried on in such a fashion as in the United States. Individual challenges among the cowboys evolved into the national competition we embrace today. From barrel racing to bull riding, modern-day cowboys still fascinate with their skill and bravery!
Arguably one of the greatest rodeos on the North American Continent, the CNFR made Casper its home in 1999. Featuring top qualifiers from colleges and universities across the country, John J. Smith, Commissioner of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association and Manager of the CNFR states that this rodeo is "the site at which we crown our champions." Each June, those champions are recognized in the realm of saddle bronc, bull riding, barrel racing and calf roping, just to name a few. According to Smith, the support of the community has contributed to the growth of the rodeo. "They've adopted the CNFR as their own National Event. The personality of the community , the county and the state is outstanding," he says. "It's a very good place - very good people." He also adds that Casper provides "a lot for our contestants to do."
Fishing, golfing and floating the river are popular activities among the contestants. Another favorite? "Going 'Sneakin' to the Beacon'!" Smith laughs, referring to The Beacon Club, a popular cowboy bar that offers live music and a large dance floor. It's a great place to hang your hat when your throat's dry and dusty, or your boots are made for more than walkin'!
Fresh off of the excitement of the CNFR, the heart-pounding adventure continues with the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo in July. The PRCA, a professional rodeo event chock-full of rodeo celebrities, showcases many of the greats from the College National Finals Rodeo, bringing back some of the hottest champs on the circuit. There are eight PRCA events: Bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping (which includes separate titles to "headers," those who rope a steer's head and "heelers," those who rope its hind feet,) saddle bronc riding, tie-down (calf) roping, steer roping, bull riding and barrel racing. At the end of the rodeo season, the top fifteen money winners in each PRCA discipline earn a trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. And watch out for "Mutton Bustin'" (sheep riding), an opportunity for kids to start their rodeo careers!
Along with the week-long action in the arena, there's also the thrill of the rides, the smell of hot dogs and cotton candy and the cries of the gamesters as you wander through the midway of the Fair itself. If your interests lie in the 4-H and FFA exhibits, there are plenty of rabbits, livestock and swine. The Discovery Science Center provides a hands-on exhibit that demonstrates how the world around us works. And for those who love to show their moves without using ropes and saddles, there's always karaoke, or the Wyoming Idol singing competition.
Just because the weather turns chilly doesn't mean the action comes to a halt. Moving indoors, November brings another PRCA-sanctioned event - a rodeo in memory of Country legend (and former rodeo champion) Chris LeDoux. In the past, this weekend tribute has included an art show containing works of LeDoux , as well as other artists in honor of his memory. And bursting into spring, rodeo fans gear up for the season with Casper College Rodeo's "Ropin' and Riggin Days." The Casper College T-birds have won at least four national championships, and previous rodeo contestants include the likes of Joe Alexander, Dave Brock, Mike Moore and Kelly Timberman. There's also plenty of high school rodeo, too - check our online calendar for a great opportunity to see some of tomorrow's champions get their rough and tumble start!
For more information about these great adventures or all things Casper, be sure to check out the weekly community calendar on this website, or call the Casper Convention and Visitors Bureau at 307-234-5362 or 800-852-1889.
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