CHEYENNE – As the 122nd annual “Daddy of ‘em All” comes to a close, volunteers and executive staff members are already gearing up for next year’s celebration.

Planning for the world’s largest outdoor rodeo requires the collaboration of hundreds of entities throughout the county, from booking agents to secure entertainment for Frontier Nights to contractors making improvements to park infrastructure.

Booking contract acts for the night shows often requires planning more than 14 months in advance.

“We have already been talking with our entertainment promoter and started negotiating with several big name country acts to bring for next year,” CFD General Chairman Bill Berg said.

In order to secure acts such as Eric Church, Nickel-back and Florida Georgia Line for this year, CFD staff worked with agents to discuss availability, ticket cost, venue specifications and other details before solidifying an agreement.

“The majority of what we are doing looking ahead to 2019 is the contract acts and night shows,” CFD CEO Tom Hirsig said. “The artists are booking earlier and earlier all the time, so that is our major focus.”

In 2018, some changes were made in traffic regulations for the Frontier Park area, and similar arrangements may be made in subsequent years to guarantee efficiency, Hirsig said.

Next, organizers are testing various new products using research and focus groups in an effort to continuously update the event. This can include new attractions or vendors.

“We have product testing that we have done for five or six years,” Hirsig said. “We have a whole list of products that have tested very positively in research groups. What we will do is pick two or three of those and look at how they would look in our show. As soon as we are done with the show, we will probably narrow it down to one or two new products.”

New multi-purpose building

CFD officials also will begin construction on a new multi-purpose building this summer.

The building will house space for the general committee, headquarters staff and volunteers. It will also contain a rentable conference center.

“A year-round, rentable conference facility provides space to increase opportunities for sponsor and community hospitality that will yield a revenue stream to offset future projects,” Hirsig said in a news release.

In 2015, CFD conducted a Master Land Use Plan study that mapped future construction plans and space allocation on Frontier Park to maximize available space.

The organization then released its Trail Guide to the Future, which identified ways to improve volunteer satisfaction, community partnerships and park infrastructure.

The guide was a six-month project undertaken by CFD to develop a long-term vision for the rodeo. The project was designed to assist with product development, infrastructure upgrades and organization planning tools to help keep it relevant in the modern world.

Foundation remains the same

A commitment to Western culture and the cowboy aesthetic will remain CFD’s foundation, though.

Officials anticipate technological advancements in entertainment and competitive sports, and the committee may incorporate emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality to enhance visitor experience.

It will also consider including participatory experiences with future CFD events.

“We need to increase opportunities for guests to safely interact with animals, and dress the part through live-action role-playing and costume contests,” Hirsig said in a previous interview.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds also held their last show near Laramie County Community College this year. The development of the Sweetgrass subdivision in the pasture south of the college will push the show elsewhere next year, according to the college’s website. Organizers are not yet sure where future shows will be.

In coming years, CFD will also continue to prioritize animal safety and transparency in discussing participant and animal injuries.

“The world is becoming more concerned about animal welfare and, in order to maintain a high-profile rodeo, we need to address that,” CFD volunteer Justin Wills said. “By 2019, we need to be ready to update our image.”

Chrissy Suttles is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s business and health reporter. She can be reached at or 307-633-3183. Follow her on Twitter at @chrissysuttles.

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