Last year was tough for the organizers of the Cody Stampede.
Crowd sizes were capped due to COVID-19 restrictions and many spectators stayed away. Still, the Stampede was one of the few big rodeos to be held last year after many others canceled.
WATCH HERE: http://mediaplay.link/rodeo/
This year, with no restrictions and in the midst of a busy tourist season, could be historic for both the Stampede and the Cody Nite Rodeo.
“The Cody Nite Rodeo has taken off huge this year, probably our biggest numbers in June ever,” Cody Stampede President Chad Ball said last week. “We definitely see the town is full for sure. Fourth of July is sold out, bulls are getting close.”
Cody’s signature summer week is chock full of events, headlined by Xtreme Bulls on Wednesday, and followed by four days of the Cody Stampede.
As the largest-paying, one-header rodeo during “Cowboy Christmas,” the Stampede attracts rodeo’s best, Ball said.
“Contestants are excited to be here and we always get the top guys,” he said. “This is the best of the best that are coming here, from barrel man to bullfighters, to stock contractor, they’re all No. 1. It’s basically like going to a mini NFR.”
Ball said even the schedule is cooperating better than usual. The July 1-2 rodeos generally have smaller audience than the other days, but this year that’ll be Thursday and Friday night as opposed to midweek so he expects higher numbers.
And they’ll once again kick off the events in dramatic fashion with Xtreme Bulls and Bullfighters Only on Wednesday night, an event canceled last year.
That afternoon, at the W Arena, singer Austin Wahlert will headline the new Extreme Kickoff event 1-3 p.m. Cost of the event is $10. Ball said Wahlert, who has a show on the Cowboy Network, is well known by many of the bull riders, who he expects to show up.
“That will be really exciting for the kickoff,” he said.
Then at 8 p.m. the top bull riders will compete in Xtreme Bulls, followed by the top bullfighters, including local legend Dusty Tuckness, in Bullfighter’s Only.
“That’s a big draw for the crowds,” Ball said. “It should be a huge night – that’s what spectators really enjoy.”
For the next four days of rodeo at 8 p.m. July 1-3 and 5 p.m. July 4, barrel man Troy “The Wild Child” Lerwill will be squeezing out the laughs. Born and raised and currently living in Payson, Utah, he will perform his signature skits that involve big motorcycle jumps.
Outside the arena there will be the usual attractions, from Mongo the Bull to a rotating performer on the Plaza each night at 7 p.m., and 4 p.m. for the July Fourth rodeo.
“If you come an hour early, eat there and have a good time,” Ball said.
Inside the arena Boyd Polhamus will again be handling the announcing duties on horseback and bullfighters Tuckness, Nate Jestes and Cory Webster will be keeping the cowboys safe during events.
Ball expects big crowds to be watching the top cowboys each night, with competitors coming and going as each hopes one night of performances will be enough to secure a win.
“The contestants are just as excited as we are about everything opening up,” Ball said. “Everybody wants to come to Cody and they are. This year we’re glad to be back to normal, hopefully above normal.”