Old Frontier Town is a place where visitors can go back in time to the Old West. Here you can bargain with local craftsmen and merchants who sell cowboy boots, hats, clothing, saddles, spurs, bridles, bows and arrows, leather goods, utensils for cooking on a fire, cowboy’s artwork and other things which make you feel like a real cowboy or cowgirl. Visitors can get behind the bars in a local jail or choose a freshly made wooden coffin. There is a chance to try a chuck wagon meal, cooked on an open fire, such as bean stew, bread, and cookies.
We asked directions from a tall man with a mustache, dressed in cowboy boots and a broad brimmed black hat. He carried a colt on his hip and a shot gun on his shoulder. The man walked leisurely along the street of the Old Frontier town and his spurs clinked in rhythm with his steps. He answered with dignity and with a typical cowboy’s drawl. Only a few minutes later we realized that we met Buffalo Bill. They said Wyatt Earp and Lillie Langtry were hanging around there as well.
Indian Village is a colorful place where visitors can enjoy the Native American culture hands on. There are indigenous performers, dressed in colorful tribal costumes, whose dances are accompanied by the beat of drums and the chants of the singers. There are also storytellers and flute players. For curiosity sake, visitors can look inside the tepees, take part in a ritual Indian dance, buy Indian jewelry, and try Indian food. Tacos, wrapped in freshly baked Indian bread are delicious! There is also a Pow Wow at sunset on Wednesday performed by the Little Sun Drum and Dance Group. The members of this group come from different tribes, such as Arapaho, Eastern Shoshone, Oglala, and Hunkpapa Lakota.
Native Americans have been coming to Cheyenne Frontier Days since 1898 to celebrate, to share their culture, and to compete in rodeo events. After the first Cheyenne Frontier Day celebration in 1897 Colonel E. A. Slack noted in his newspaper: “We have no doubts that some noble red men may be secured for 1898.” His advice did not come unnoticed and a group of Shoshone Indians from Wind River came to participate in the celebration the next year.
Additionally Buffalo Bill, with his Wild West show, arrived the same year with his band of Sioux. The Lakota chief and holy man Sitting Bull also performed in Wild West show. Sitting Bull was known for his fight and resistance to prevent the U.S. government from stealing his tribe’s land. After his defeat, Sitting Bull saw his performance as a way of preserving and revealing the culture of the Native Americans. Buffalo Bill staged a spectacular parade and Sioux were a part of it. In the end a stage coach filled with pioneers and the Frontier Committee speeded by, with Shoshones on horseback in pursuit. Later in the day, there was a re-enactment staged in which a train full of emigrants was attacked by Indians and rescued by cowboys.
In 1910, when former President Roosevelt attended Cheyenne Frontier Days Sioux, Shoshones, and Arapaho were invited. They staged a fierce battle that made all of the spectators, including the honored guest, jump from their seats and cheer the warriors.
During the early Cheyenne Frontier Days there were such events as a Squaw Race and Wolf Roping for the Indians to compete in. However the prizes for the Native American winners were significantly lower in value than those for the cowboys. This is not the case nowadays. Since the early Cheyenne Frontier Days, the organizers established close and friendly relationships with Native Americans. A permanent Indian Village was established in 1980. It’s behind a stockade, where smoke comes from the top of tepees.
The Carnival Midway offers all kind of breathtaking rides, games and entertainment for kids of all ages. There are jewelry, clothing, artwork and other merchandise for sale. Numerous cafes offer cuisine from all over the world. A mechanical bull is there for the rookie cowboys and cowgirls to prove themselves.
Frontier Nights are the concerts, which take place every evening during Cheyenne Frontier Days. The best musicians perform on the stage, such as “Kiss,” Jake Owen, Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington, Sam Hart, and “Fall out Boy.”
Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum is open all year round. It displays an intriguing history of Cheyenne Frontier Days through authentic artifacts and interactive displays. The museum has one of the largest collections of carriages, which were the primary means of transportation for early settlers of the West. There are more than 250 works of art created by cowboy artists. These include paintings and bronze, wood and alabaster sculptures. Legendary cowboys, cowgirls, contractors, and volunteers who devoted their lives to the extreme sport of rodeo come alive because the history of Cheyenne Frontier Days is displayed. Wild bucking broncs and bulls, which were the stars of the shows, are not forgotten. From 1897 to the present the most notable contestants, contractors, entertainers, volunteers, and livestock have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
To be continued.
Wyoming Tales and Trails featuring Photographs and History of Old Wyoming by G.B Dobson: http://www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com/frontierdays.html.