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When one of the biggest rodeos in the world throws down in your own backyard, we say it’s the perfect excuse to skip town and play cowboy for a few days. Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD), the “Daddy of ’em All” (July 23–August 1, 2021), as they say, turns 125 this year and we’re here for the party. So dust off your hat, don your chaps, and take our advice for what to eat and do at the baddest rodeo in the West.
Fruity Pebble Shrimp Po’Boy
Sounds crazy, but hear us out. This classic shrimp po’boy is battered and topped with the nostalgic cereal, resulting in a colorful, crunchy, and novel creation we’re on board with. Nathan Janousek, the creator of the sandwich and founder of Fun Biz, the food and beverage supplier for CFD says that the combination just works. “It’s colorful, it’s crunchy, and it has the flavor profile we were looking for—along the lines of say coconut shrimp,” Janousek says. “It’s really delicious.” The po’boy comes with a spicy dressing made of Sriracha, ranch, and crushed Fruity Pebbles—and for the bun-averse, you can also sample the same dish as Fruity Pebble–encrusted shrimp on a stick. $12; find at the “Get Fried” stand.
For an upscale take on fair food, try the elote dog—an all-beef hot dog on a toasted bun topped with fresh corn, pico de gallo, shredded Oaxaca cheese, and jalapeños and drizzled with spicy mayo, lime, and Mexican crema. Customers expect more from their food now, Janousek says, even craving elevated fare on the midway. “It has really specific, noticeable layers of flavor that all work together,” he says. “The savory, the spicy, the sweet, the crunchy, the snap of the hot dog, the beefiness, the juiciness of it, the freshness of the corn, the fire-roasted flavors—it all has to be there or it isn’t right.” $10; find at the “Texas Steak Out” stand.
This seasoned, waffle hash brown is piled high with pulled pork, elote, Oaxaca cheese, fresh slaw, French fried onion crisps, jalapeños, and finished with a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. The best part? Nothing’s frozen. “All of our ingredients are fresh,” Janousek says. “We’re smoking the meats, trimming, marinating, and doing everything on-site.” Bonus: The ingredients are supplied locally from Wyoming providers. $12; find at the “Spud Ranch” stand.
The Buckle Club
This sit-down restaurant in the heart of the rodeo serves Wyoming beef, bison, and chicken, and serves up live music and craft cocktails—so it’s the perfect place to kick up your boots after a long day of rodeo. Pro tip: Brunch is served on both Sundays of the rodeo if you need a bloody to shake off Saturday night’s festivities. Entrée prices vary.
Enjoy a free (yes, free) pancake breakfast on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, courtesy of the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club. In 2021, the crew expects to flip nearly 100,000 flapjacks and serve 25,000 rodeo-goers (always attempting to beat the 1996 record of 39,112). Free. July 26; July 28; July 30, 7–9 a.m.
Rodeos (Of Course)
If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s your primer: Cheyenne Frontier Days is the largest outdoor rodeo in the world, attracting over 260,000 attendees in 2019. Over the course of nine days, 1,500 rodeo contestants (and over 2,000 animal athletes) will compete for cash prizes expected to reach $1 million, one of the largest purses in rodeo. From bull riding to barrel racing, the arena will roar with thunder daily. New to rodeo? Browse CFD’s Rodeo 101 page to learn the … ropes. Tickets start at $21. July 24–August 1, 1–4 p.m.
Last Cowboy Standing
This is the big one—where the most rugged cowboys face off against the baddest bulls in a rodeo showdown to the gods. Top stars of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) world compete for the title of “Last Cowboy Standing.” Those who can stay on their bull for a full eight seconds continue to the next round, competing until only one remains. Tickets start at $25. July 26–27, 7:45 p.m.
Frontier Nights Concerts
The star-studded lineup at CFD is the stuff country dreams are made of. If music is your thing, plan your trip around a show—Maren Morris, Eric Church, Thomas Rhett, and more are on deck. Garth and Blake may be sold out, but catching any act at the CFD grandstand is a big check off the bucket list. Ticket prices vary. July 23–25, 8 p.m.; July 28–31, 8 p.m.
Behind the Chutes Tour
Follow the path of the rodeo stars themselves—the bulls, broncs, cowboys, and cowgirls who compete—with a behind-the-scenes tour of the chutes. You’ll dust up your boots exploring the belly of the rodeo and even end the tour with a walk across the arena. Free; meet in front of the CFD Old West Museum to join. July 24 and July 30–31, 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.; July 25–29, 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.; August 1, 10 a.m.
You can’t celebrate the spirit of the West without celebrating its Indigenous peoples. Since 1898, Cheyenne Frontier Days has invited Native Americans to participate in the show, and established a permanent area in the ’60s that now hosts Native exhibits, booths, and food vendors, as well as dancing, music, and storytelling. Free. Open daily.