Breaking: Despite Cancellations, Cody Stampede Plans to go Ahead
Contrary to what Governor Mark Gordon and major Wyoming rodeo organizers announced earlier this week, the Cody Stampede is set to go ahead as usual amid the COVID-19 pandemic, its board announced Friday morning.
"The Rodeo Task Force that worked with the Governor made a decision as a group to cancel major rodeos this summer. However, our Board operates independently from that special task force, and their decisions are not reflective of our position," the board said in a written statement.
During an address to the state Wednesday, Gordon announced the first-ever cancellation of Cheyenne Frontier Days as well as five other major rodeos: the Cody Stampede, Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo, Sheridan WYO Rodeo, Laramie Jubilee Days and Thermopolis Cowboy Rendezvous PRCA. Gordon made the announcement flanked by rodeo organizers and said the decision had been theirs, not the state's.
In a subsequent statement Thursday, Gordon again clarified that the rodeos were not cancelled due to a state order.
"We [Gordon and rodeo organizers] discussed and considered at length how to manage the main gate, whether they needed to require masks and what attendance might be like. Would a beer garden be feasible? How do you manage crowds when the rodeo is over? How do you run a carnival in the current environment? In the end, the challenges and risks involved with implementing any approach were either too expensive, too complicated or simply not feasible," Gordon said.
But in Friday's statement, the Cody rodeo organizers claimed they were not a part of the broader decision.
"The Cody Stampede Board has never approved or even voted on any formal positions of the task force, nor has the Cody Stampede made any official Board decision to cancel any of our rodeos," the statement continues. "To the contrary, it remains our goal to host our Cody Nite Rodeo and the Cody Stampede in 2020."
The board also emphasized that it has not yet had its variance request approved by state officials. That part of the process is still being sorted out after a previous variance request was denied Wednesday.
"We are submitting another variance request, and we hope the Governor will stand by his word and approve it," the board said.
The organizers said their 2020 team includes "the best in the business" with stock contractor Frontier Rodeo, announcer Boyd Polhamus, bullfighter Dusty Tuckness and rodeo clown Justin Rumford.
"It remains our goal to host our Cody Nite Rodeo and Cody Stampede in 2020. We have been extremely excited to showcase another top-notch professional rodeo, the first Stampede that we are scheduled to host after being inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in August of 2019," the board said.
Governor Mark Gordon was not immediately available to comment.
This developing story will be updated.