CODY, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - One of the highlights for tourists coming to Cody is the opportunity to see a professional rodeo, every night. But this year's Cody Nite Rodeo has been delayed, and altered, by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Mike Darby is the co-president of the Cody Stampede Board, which governs all activity at the rodeo grounds, including the nightly rodeo that usually runs from the first of June through the end of August. But this year, Darby says they’re looking at a much different picture - including pushing back the opening date by two weeks.
“The Park has just recently opened, so everything’s delayed at least two to three weeks," he points out. "And we thought it’d be best that we delay the start of the rodeo til the 15th of June.”
Darby says that in order to open, they’re making application for an exception to the public health regulations that prohibit social gatherings.
“We can seat roughly 5,000 people. Our anticipated audience is going to be 750," he explains. "At this time, no coach traffic through Yellowstone is permitted, so we’re not anticipating anybody from coaches to be in our audience. That's going to cut down our audience, which will enhance our ability to social distance at the rodeo grounds.”
Darby says that after his consultation with the Park County Public Health Officer, he feels that their request has a good chance of being approved.
“Because we are outdoors, there is a breeze, we have plenty of room to social distance," he observes. "We’re working out the ticketing, the concessions, and also the workers for the rodeo and the contestants.”
What’s heartbreaking, according to Darby, is that this hit comes less than a year after the Cody Stampede celebrated its one hundredth year of rodeo - and that annual festivity is in jeopardy this year.
“You know, you go from the ultimate high to the ultimate struggle. We’re trying to figure out how to get this done. And we haven’t given up, we’re still working on it. And we’re hopeful. We truly are.”