After presiding over 100 years of bucking broncos and bucking bulls, a bucking bus was not going to interfere with the Cody Stampede Board of Directors.
Although the bus rented to transport the supervisors of the Cody Stampede Rodeo from Wyoming to Colorado Springs broke down in Thermopolis, the group made it all the way safely and in plenty of time for its Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame induction last weekend.
The gang lassoed two other buses to complete the 560-mile drive, then basked in the glow of accolades and attention welcoming 14 of the 15 current board members.
“It was just an honor and a privilege,” co-president Marc Thompson said. “I was very proud to represent the Cody Stampede.”
The actual induction event, surrounded by activities such as a dinner, golf tournament and a dance, took place Saturday.
Thompson and co-president Mike Darby addressed the audience and joined 11 other inductees in the class of 2019 as the Hall itself celebrated its 40th anniversary.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Darby said. “We are so appreciative and so humbled. It would bring tears to your eyes. It was an emotional experience. You want to pinch yourselves that it’s really happening.”
Darby and Thompson said the honor belongs to all of the Stampede committees of the last century and to the Cody community, as well.
The Buffalo Bill Cody Stampede Rodeo began in 1919 and was created as an homage to founding citizen William F. Cody to commemorate his legacy as a great western figure.
Last month’s July 4 week represented a 100th year celebration of the debut rodeo.
Meeting some of the greats of rodeo and being feted virtually non-stop in various ways for parts of three days was almost overwhelming.
“It was fantastic,” said board member Ed Phillips. “It was above and beyond that. Being involved in such an honor, it’s just beyond anything I expected. I’m still in shock. To be inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame is just beyond anything I would imagine.”
Board members were photographed and gave interviews and hailed as stars of the show, along with other cowboys, stock contractors and contributors to the sport.
“That was spectacular,” said board member Brad Thyng of the program. “It was fun to be around so many pioneers of the industry. They treated us like royalty.”
Among the other headliners was bareback rider Larry Peabody of Montana, a star of the 1980s who is also in the Stampede’s Ring of Honor, barrel racer Jimmie Gibbs Munroe, bull rider Doug “Droopy” Brown, and steer wrestler Dean Gorsuch.
The Stampede Committee learned it had been selected in April. Twice previously, in 1998 and 1999, the Stampede was named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year.
“It is a once-in-a-lifetime honor,” said Larry Johnson of the Hall of Fame ceremonies. “It was worth being on the board for 25 years for that. It started in 1919 and everyone had a contribution.”
Board members Johnson, Tony Scheiber and Jim Facinelli, met with a Hall of Fame curator to record an oral history of the Stampede for the archives.
Facinelli, who turned 80 Monday, laughed when it was suggested the entire event was staged as a birthday present for him. As a board member for 49 years he has served in an official capacity for more than half the rodeos and reveled in the Colorado Springs experience.
“It was completely amazing,” Facinelli said. “It’s something we can all be proud of, the town, Park County, Wyoming. It’s a great thing that happened. I’m just a small part of it.”
The worry that none of the Stampede board members would be part of any of it was short-lived. The original bus, belonging to the Yellowstone Quake junior hockey team, departed Cody on Aug. 1 and broke down 80 miles into the journey. Darby said the cause might have been the radiator. Board member Justin Lundvall said a friend called him when he noticed the colorful hockey team bus being towed past him.
Serendipity struck. Within five minutes a public bus arrived at the same truck stop and all riders and luggage transferred.
Headed to Cheyenne, the bus made stops and added passengers in Shoshone and Casper.
“It was comical,” Thompson said. “Everyone just rolled with it.”
Lundvall, who said he was “honored and privileged” to be part of the recognition, said the bus twist just made everything more memorable.
Then the team caught another bus to Colorado Springs. Once in Colorado, Thompson said, Stampede sponsor Coors rode to the rescue with transportation. There were no repeat incidents on the return trip.
Board members raved about being part of the big show, about the spotlight on the Stampede and how they will remember their involvement forever.
“It was just a great honor to be in that situation with those people,” said Larry Allshouse. “This is the whole world of rodeo, one big family.”