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Friday, July 5, 2019

Frontier Days is holding Cheyenne back

            “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11

BY D. REED ECKHARDT
            It is time for Cheyenne to grow up.
            That’s what came to my mind as I stood in front of the newly renovated State Capitol and looked south toward the Cheyenne Union Pacific Depot. Yes, the Cheyenne Frontier Days
The Frontier Days trappings are up in downtown Cheyenne.
 signs are up on the lamp posts, and the streets are festooned with flags, “Welcome to Cheyenne Frontier Days.”
            But friends, whether you love CFD or not – after 20 years here, I am wellover it – it is past time that this annual event loosen its grip on city leadership and lose the top-of-mind awareness that is holding the Capital City back. 
This is 2019, people, not 1919 or 1867, when Fort D.A. Russell was founded. In case you haven’t noticed, American culture has moved well past cowboy hats and cattle. So this annual orgy of Western bull crap that dominates the local mindset needs to move into the background so modern ideas can lead this city into the future.
            Certainly CFD is a local economic driver, creating an estimated $27.1 million in revenue each year (https://www.cfdrodeo.com/2019/01/cfd-releases-updated-economic-impact-study/). But that doesn’t mean it should demand to be front and center any longer.
Consider this: Cheyenne had a $5.754 billioneconomy in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/NGMP16940) That means less than 5 percentof the economic output of Cheyenne is created by CFD. 
Cheyenne has got to stop thinking that CFD – and cowboy culture – will drive its future because it will not. If anything, CFD will contribute less and less to the overall economy over time as other industries and sectors continue to grow.
            Perhaps the biggest problem with CFD commanding so much attention is that it forces Cheyenne’s leadership to look backward, into the past, rather than toward a vibrant future in which cowboys and rodeo will be just a small slice of what Cheyenne offers, not the whole pie.
Look southward toward Greeley, Colo. It offers the Greeley Stampede, which is wrapping up its annual run this weekend. That event has the same menu of offerings that CFD does, a rodeo, night shows, all the other trappings. 
But Greeley is not a cowboy town, and it doesn’t want to be. Its leadership sees that what is happening along the Colorado Front Range – Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver – is where the future lies. The Stampede is just one of the community’s many offerings – have you ever been to the Greeley Blues Festival? – not the be all and end all of what it is about.
This is where CFD hurts Cheyenne the most. When you travel up and down Interstate 25, you see ads for Greeley. They talk about its university, its attractions, its festivals. Even its theme, “Greeley Unexpected” (https://greeleyunexpected.com), focuses on the community as an exciting, vibrant place to be. The first website image? A downtown concert with hundreds of young people looking on.
Now go to Visit Cheyenne (https://www.cheyenne.org) and what is the first thing that smacks you in the face? Frontier Days. Then the slogan: “Live the Legend.” That says everything about where this city is looking – and it isn’t toward the future.
Indeed, discuss this with local tourism leaders and they will tell you that they haveto market Cheyenne’s cowboy culture. That is why people come here, they say. But they are perpetuating a false image of this city and are holding it back. People who stop in at Cheyenne to buy a cowboy hat and a belt buckle are missing out on so much more – the outdoor culture, the growing arts scene, downtown festivals, the trains and events on the Plaza. If all that Americans know about Cheyenne is CFD and cowboys, then there is little incentive for businesses and their employees to move here. 
Yes, tourism officials do mention all these other Cheyenne things, but those always are pushed into the background by Frontier Days. And CFD always gets first nods on public support. There is money for added city security for the event, but none to develop the Belvoir Ranch, which has the potential for being an outdoors tourism mecca. 
And that would attract the tourists of the future: young people who want to enjoy the outdoors. The pool of cowboy culture tourists is aging out. Most young people couldn’t give
The Hispanic Festival is a great Cheyenne event.
a pile of horse droppings about cowboys and rodeos. If they equate Cheyenne with cowboy culture, this city will continue to stagnate.
It is past time for Cheyenne to stop acting like a child playing with toys – CFD, cowboys, rodeos, country music – and find its way into the future. Frontier Days needs to step back, to been seen as one of this community’s many offerings, not its sole reason for existence. 
One place to start: change the slogan. Rather than “Live the Legend” and its backward glance to a dead past, why not “Where the Legend Lives”? That then could incorporate all of the other great
things that Cheyenne has to offer going forward. Perhaps the city then could see itself, and be seen, as a place where young generations come to live rather than where older folks stop to briefly visit on their way to places like Yellowstone National Park.
Yes, this will take a change in mindset and, perhaps in the short term, a decline in cowboy-related revenues. But it is time to take a longer term view about Cheyenne and its future.
You can continue milking this one old, drying up cow known as Frontier Days or you can make it part of a dairy farm with many cows providing many different streams of milk. Which do you think will better help Cheyenne grow into the future?
            
D. Reed Eckhardt is the former editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.


43 comments:

  1. Quit being a party pooper. If you don't like Frontier Days, don't participate. It is a chance for friends and family to get together and have a good time. Not everything has to be about politics or making money.

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    1. CFD is about making money. This is proven by the recent changes in the format. CFD is a business, complete with a CEO. I am not saying I agree with everything the post is saying.Just pointing out that CFD is a business.

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  2. The thing that really frustrates me about CFD is the strangle hold they have over Frontier Park. That stadium should be used ALL summer, not just for few days of CFD. That would be a great venue to host larger concerts. Think of the revenue stream if we had bigger name musical acts playing at Frontier Park all summer. Plus, it would give Cheyenne residents, here is a novel idea, a reason to stay in Cheyenne instead of travelling to Colorado for concerts!

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    1. Frontier Days would love to have people rent it out. It's not held hostage. It's available.

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    2. True, but is it remotely affordable for non-commercial events?

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  3. The sad part is, that it has became just that!!! All about the money.

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  4. This article reads like the author moved to the wrong town. Sounds like they need to move to Greeley or Denver.

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  5. If you don't like Cheyenne and it's heritage, then move! Maybe to Greeley? It is annoying how people now days want to remove statues and totally change or get rid of our history. I hope that as Natives of Wyoming we will not allow this to happen to our state.

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    1. You mean the natives you raped and killed, while naming your streets after the confederate slave drivers. Hick douche.

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  6. I see CFD as a great part of Cheyenne's history but I also see the need for Cheyenne to be more that one dimensional. Cheyenne has a lot to offer and they do with Friday night on the Plaza, RibFest, Brewers Fest and other weekend activities. However, I see these events as great events for the Locals. Do they bring in people from other communities. I have posted 2 other blogs that deal with ways to expand Cheyenne's economy. I don't think the Author of the post wants to do away with CFD, but would like to see Cheyenne broaden it's appeal and become a destination for more than 10 days in July. I agree with him on that. As I said before, Like relationships and businesses, communities have to evolve with the times. Just my opinion.

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  7. The author talks about growing up, but the whole tone of this piece is of a small child who didn't get their way.

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  8. After your 20 years here, we are well over you. I’m sure sure Boulder or Portland would love to have you. You can have art festivals full of flea market junk and drink your craft hemp tea all day long if that’s the future you think is so great.

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  9. CFD is apart of Cheyenne and I huge part of what brings people to Cheyenne you said it only accounts for less that 5% of the money here but what you dont say is how it does that in one week. Then you go on to talk about Colorado, well we are not colorado and I dont wanna be from there or be like them. The cowboy way is much more than how you dress it's a code of honor. Now for some that is different than it is for others but I grew up here and I'm a proud of our country music and CFD. If you like Colorado so much nothing is stopping you form going there at all. I dont wanna be like the I like our small big town atmosphere and how you can still get to know most people in a life time... So I get what I'm trying to say is, it's not holding us back it a event that's all it's a way to show somthing for the past, and we can still move forward in the cowboy way because CFD is not the legend it's the people that live here and make it such a great place to raise a family. That why the cop cars say protect the legend, theblegend is the people.

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  10. Hi my name is river brown and I work with cfd year round and as you have your freedom to share your thoughts so do I. I have been working with cfd for about 3 years now and lemme tell you something it is very important to people who rodeo. The money that cfd gets is also to pay for the park that we have to pay the city because the city is leasing it to us which the city gets that money and also half of that money goes to our amazing volunteers to the cost of their badges and t shirts and also food provide to the committees so the volunteers don’t eat crap food and get a good decent meal while they work. Now we can forget about the rodeo and those cost we also have to pay our championship competitors such as our bull riders and barrels racer and considering we just added break away roping gonna be more money added and since cfd is in one of the big winnings of the prca we have to pay big top dollar for the people competing. Not to also mention park renovations which get pretty pricy too and we also have our year workers that work with us 40 hours a week as their full time job we gotta pay them. Now since you also mention our world is taking a more morderb turn and I can agree with that but it’s not just Cheyenne known for its cowboy town it’s the whole state of Wyoming and May is say this cowboys aren’t dying trust me their are ranchers in all parts of Wyoming and the USA that are local ranchers and that’s how they make their living for their family and people who also make their living in rodeo for instance Fallon Taylor and Trevor Brazil world champion 24 times their is also Brody cress a saddle bronc rider from Cheyenne and cfd is his home town rodeo. I was also born in Cheyenne and understand the importance of cfd and the city and it’s needs. Cfd is not the problem if you want a better town it’s the towns obligations and responsibilities. Thank you for reading

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  11. I agree. That park could be used for a lot more then the crap concerts brought in anymore. Not all concerts are bad but really having lived here all my life let's bring in bigger names then has been. And bring back real carnival rides.
    As far as the rest year, whatnot have a winter series of events.

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  12. I am proud of CFD, when you serve overseas they know where you are from (Cheyenne, Wyoming) and want to visit our beautiful city. People come visit and spend their hard earned money here in Cheyenne so we can live the life we are living. I am just saying.

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  13. I thought this was a joke. So I Googled the author's name. D Reed Eckhardt, Executive editor at Wyoming Tribune Eagle. As the saying goes, consider the source.

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  14. People love rodeo. It’s a culture not child’s play. There’s plenty of cultures presented at frontier days. It’s for children and adults a like. It influenced me as a child and I hope that it will continue to influence many generations. This article is completely disgusting and disrespectful. I say that if you don’t like it and don’t appreciate it, you probably have no pride for your city and shouldn’t live there.

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  15. Incredible. I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada, where we just celebrated our 100th 'Wildest, Richest, Rodeo of the West'. Preserve your history and enjoy CFD! If you don't like it don't go. It's that simple. This article is absolutely absurd. Some things are better left unsaid, Mr. Eckhardt. Your opinion doesn't matter. I'm sure tearing down statues, burning flags and books, and praising the Kaepernick's of the world is likely something that suits you. Time to put on those Nike's and Forrest Gump yourself down to San Francisco. The filth and disgust it has turned into is right up your alley.

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  16. If it's holding us back...good. Last thing on earth we need is a ton of no residents moving in.

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  17. I came to CFD back in 2007 from Oklahoma working security for a friend playing in the Buckin'A. That year I met friends and volunteers that I now consider family. AS 2007 wrapped up I was approached if i ever wanted to become a volunteer get back with them. Here it is 2019 and I've been a volunteer since 2008. I love coming to CFD to see my "family" CFD has grown so much over the years. They take input and try to make it reality. For this Oklahoma boy Wyoming and CFD is my second home. I love CFD ."Live the Legend" --Richard

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  18. All I can say is if you dont like the way its ran and want to compare to Colorado then move and leave it at that. I to am a volunteer from Oklahoma have been for three years and come the 19th it will be four years. So regardless if you appreciate CFD or not it is a awesome event that allows all races the same opportunity to see and or participate. so again if you dislike so much by all means leave.

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    1. How erudite your xenophobia, Boomer. "Just leave" is going to be what we say to you one of these days. I believe there are going to be a lot more people coming here to stay that feel the way this writer does. A job or two somewhere that doesn't have cowboys would teach you fools a lot about how to be a community instead of a cult.

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  19. People drive thousands of miles to attend and it's great for tourists. If I didn't have strong family ties here in AR I would already be a resident in Cheyenne because I love the city! Sounds like this writer needs to go on his way!!

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  20. Really ??? If you have been there before and dont lile it. Dont go. Stop trying to find little shit to keep your blog life alive.. Just stop ✋.

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  21. CFD is holding Cheyenne back? Cheyenne is a bustling economy in Wyoming. Heritage is always more important than progression, especially as it fades out of existence across the country.
    I have never lived in Cheyenne, but visiting for CFD has brought me life long friends both from that city and around the country.

    Cheyenne Wyoming is on the map because of it’s long lasting love of heritage.

    More cities across the nation should follow their lead!

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    1. They are both important but it's important to know when when the time to let go of heritage for progress has arrived. We don't still drive horse and buggies to work. When something is obsolete, either put it in a museum and admire it, or discard it. The world won't wait on Wyoming to catch up.

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  22. I'm a third generation Cheyenneite, currently raising generation four. I agree with the sentiments expressed here 100%. People act like anyone with deep ties to the community couldn't possibly see it this way, but I do - and I know many others do as well. CFD adds value, but it also stands in the way of growth in the arts, culture, and even the use of local charitable donations. CFD acts as a nonprofit and consumes tens of thousands of corporate philanthropic dollars each year that could be better spent dispersed among organizations actually striving to make a difference in people's lives.

    "Leave if you don't like" is a small-minded commentary delivered only by those who lack the intellectual bandwidth to have an actual conversation about a future that embraces what's possible while still honoring what's been. The balance is shifting though, and soon a great many of you may find yourselves on the receiving end of the reverse commentary "Leave if you can't handle what's coming." It'd be better for everyone if the conversation were more inclusive, more solution focused, rather than so adversarial. Kudos, Reed, for starting a much needed conversation. We need room for diverse points of view.

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  23. I have been saying this in harsher terms for twenty years and I am so happy to be able to share this with folks who think I'm ding-bat crazy LOL

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  24. I agree! I don't think he's saying get rid of Cheyenne Frontier Days, just market more than just that one event. There's a lot more to Cheyenne than just Frontier Days. I don't think people know about the other festivals that take place there. As the capital of the state they should have huge celebrations and concerts at that venue for all cultures.

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  25. Living in the past is like driving with ones gaze fixed in the rear view mirror. Look out for that tree!

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  26. I agree with the article. I am a Cheyenne native and know all too well that we are so much more than our 10 day ode to the "Legend". I did leave this town for a while during one of the many bust cycles our state clings to like a child's blankie, but found that the people in this place are what I missed and love. I love the beauty of the area and everything within our borders. I also believe in "being the change I want to see." I do not support the CFD other than to sit with my Dad at the first parade, as we have done since I can remember. We support Cheyenne. We support Wyoming. We support the people. I have watched our state lag behind and not even entertain giving an inch on diversifying to sustain us for the last 50 years. There is compromise if the "good ol' boys" would just loosen their grip as tight as the reigns of a bull rider at CFD. Thanks Mr. Eckhardt, for the view, we need to know we aren't alone.

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  27. Last year, I went out for breakfast on the last Saturday of CFD. Eight young men were sitting at the table next to us, still drunk, swearing, and talking about bagging whores and how much they drank the night before, even though there were four tables around them with young teens and small children. Yes, your precious CFD, is all about bringing together the community. Sure. Be honest, assholes. It's all about the city making money with nefarious behind-the-scenes deals, underage drinking, scalping of concert tickets, adults partying too hard, puking in the streets, groping barely legal young women in cowgirl outfits, sex trafficking, prostitution, and occasionally some 'real' cowboys showing off their skills.

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    1. If I see any men touching underage girls I am going to tie their balls together and ride them like a bull. That's the real way to do it.

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  28. I agree and have stated in the past that many wyominites have to spend revenue in other states, to do fun activities throughout the rest of the year when it is not frontier week.there should be other things to bring in people to our city and surrounding towns etc. to entertain friends and family rather than always in Colorado or Nebraska etc. I have often said we need aquariums and fun parks and adventure lands etc. Places that are open when weather is nice and indoor recreational family adventure themed places , Renaissance fairs etc.

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  29. Stop trying to ruin something good and holesome to promote your socialist agenda. There are very few places in this country that are still worth living in.
    Stop portraying our culture as backwards to promote your unwanted socialistic the immoral views.

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  30. CFD does run Cheyenne! Surely you fools dont think all of Cheyenne only opens for 10 days in July! To ignore 355 days of the year explains why our town is so far behind in economy and growth. Also, can't we use that big electronic sign for more than CFD? We could advertise Brewfest, Civic Center attractions, Ice rink, hockey games, so much more than 10 days worth of drunks & animal abuse. Finally, we could drop the "Daddy of 'em all" moniker. We dont have the population to support the kind of payout that Denver and Las Vegas can afford. This expansion to breakaway roping has infuriated the roping community, as their payout has dropped by over 5K. Stop trying to get bigger, CFD. You're already too big for your britches. I am so sick of ranching in a place that romanticizes it. Seriously, nobody gives 2 s!*ts about your horse and cow, they dont care about mine either.

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  31. The way I look at it, if you don’t like CFD the do go, don’t spend any money in Cheyenne during that week, otherwise you will find yourself participating in CFD. There is a lot of history with CFD it’s not just Cowboys, I’ve lived in Cheyenne over 42 years and am a Cheyenne Native so if you don’t like our great city the MOVE!!!

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  32. Reed,

    I give you credit for your support of recycling as you've recycled this column for as long as I've lived here. While we are all entitled to our own opinion we are not entitled to our own facts. The fact is the marketing of Cheyenne has evolved over the past five years.

    Exhibit A: Outdoor Adventure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ytDJrxb59o

    Exhibit B: Arts in Cheyenne https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vai2ISWtbr8&t=12s

    Exhibit C: Culture and Nightlife https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4H3zE-wOsow&t=23s

    Exhibit D: Cheyenne Nightlife: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9BRJEi36N4

    Exhibit E: Technology and Industry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIAOymVWlHE&t=7s

    Exhibit F: Our Flagship Video for 2019 in which less than 25% of it is dedicated to the western theme you fear is holding us back. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIAOymVWlHE&t=7s

    You continue to harp on Live the Legend and how it holds back the area's economy but you have yet to pay attention to how the marketing of this destination has changed, evolved and grown in the past five years. It seems that wouldn't make for as compelling of a column and wouldn't be the click bait that you need.

    Yes we still market our history and western culture, but not to would be derelict in our duties to promote our destination. With $346 million dollars spent in Laramie County in 2017, leisure travel to our city is an essential part of our economy. You don't turn your back on your base to grow new markets, you continue to grow your base and grow new markets and our marketing and advertising does exactly that.

    Most cities would love to have the world wide name recognition of Cheyenne, but to keep that recognition we must deliver on our brand promise.

    Warm Regards,

    Jim Walter
    Director of Sales and Marketing
    Visit Cheyenne

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  33. Jim: You cite a number of changes but circle back at the end to emphasize your "brand promise." By doing so, you nullify all that has come before. If your "brand promise" is CFD and Western culture, you make my point for me. Cheyenne should not be CFD and, oh, by the way, we have these other things. That still sells this is a backward looking community that is unattractive to young people -- or at least the dozens I have talked to. Living the Legend also harkens backward to a legend that really is a myth. Yes, I've said this before, but not to the blog audience, and I will say it again in many other ways. You continue to serve the wrong master, and by doing so you hold this community back. In the end, we all will pay the price for that.

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  34. 5.74 Billion? For Cheyenne? That must be quite the breakdown. And I assume that is over a time span of a year, not 2 weeks. To be fair you would have to either divide the other inputs by 26 or multiply CFDs by 26 for an equal comparison.

    Maybe what y'all are also missing is the first word of the acronym of CFD; Cheyenne. It's not just Frontier Days as other cities such as Prescott, Arizona have the same thing, it is Cheyenne Frontier Days and has been for far longer than any of us have been alive.

    Just curious, if you took Cheyenne out of CFD, what would Cheyenne even be famous for? A lot of historical references are made to Cheyenne but those today are few and far between if they do not involve CFD.

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