CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Cheyenne Frontier Days lost $3.34 million in revenue last year after the coronavirus pandemic forced the event's first cancellation in its 124-year history in Wyoming, a report said.
The cancellation, which was announced last May, leaves the rodeo with little financial wiggle room in the coming years, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported Thursday.
"It certainly was devastating to our organization," CEO Tom Hirsig said in response to the cancellation. "It pretty much depletes our savings account to get to show this year."
Frontier Days is an outdoor rodeo and western festival in July that draws about 200,000 attendees each year. Its website calls it the world's largest outdoor rodeo which features competing professionals, behind-the-chutes tours, trick riding, a wild-horse race and other activities.
Hirsig said he and other organizers have already started to meet with state health officials to discuss safety protocols that may be necessary this summer.
"Let me put it this way: If we don't have a show this year, Cheyenne Frontier Days will probably have to reorganize everything it does," Hirsig said. "(But) things are looking good in our county right now - people are getting vaccinated, everything's moving the right way - so I think we'll have a show."
He said there is still a small amount of savings leading the organization into this year but it is depleting because of ongoing maintenance costs at Frontier Park and staff pay.
Recent impact studies suggest the event generates about $27 million in local economic activity every year. Organizers held smaller events throughout the year to offset the cancellation of Frontier Days, and even tried to increase community engagement by hosting several high school graduation ceremonies.
"Obviously, it's not the same. You're not going to have the hundreds of thousands of people that we get here in the community (for CFD)," Visit Cheyenne CEO Domenic Bravo said.
Cheyenne Frontier Days General Chairman Jimmy Dean Siler said his hope is that this year's event will bring back of sense of community again.
"We would love to be a part of bringing us back to the Cheyenne that we've all known and loved," Siler said.