It might feel a little different this go around, but the Cody Nite Rodeo is getting back on the horse for its 82nd year.
The chutes will open this Saturday night for a limited crowd. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the rodeo from opening as usual at the beginning of June, but bucked the gathering limits to start the show again.
The grandstands will be limited to 300 people per stand, and spectators “will kind of patrol themselves,” said Cody Stampede secretary Taylor Bednarz. Bednarz also said that masks and hand sanitizer will be available for the spectators.
Maury Tate, longtime Nite Rodeo stock contractor, has a bit of work to do to get ready for opening night. Monday morning, Tate was still on the road from Oklahoma bringing the stock to Stampede Park. He arrived with an escort through town Tuesday afternoon.
“We usually have a couple of weeks of prep time,” he said. His company will be putting together everything in three days, but he said that spectators have nothing to worry about.
“We’ve got a lot of experience with this,” Tate said. “People in town, they’ll never know we weren’t there for two weeks.”
Nevertheless, the CNR will see some changes due to the pandemic. In years past, there has been a strong contingent of contestants from around the world, most notably Australia. This year, Tate said he doesn’t have any international contestants.
“We had a bullfighter from Australia who can’t make it this year,” he said, but added that there was still a strong showing from the continental United States, including from as far as Oregon, Wisconsin and Louisiana.
New to the CNR this year is Ty Rhodes. Rhodes, 20, is coming from Arkansas to get in the booth and call the event. He’s been involved in rodeo since he was a kid, and has been calling them since he was 16.
“The reason people come to a rodeo is to forget about everything that’s going on,” Rhodes said. “If I can take someone in the grandstands who didn’t want to be there tonight and (get them to) have a good time, that makes me feel very accomplished.”
Despite the weirdness of the year and the new restrictions, Tate thinks that this will still be a show worth seeing.
“[The CNR] gives the people coming to Cody a place to go, some entertainment,” he said, “as well as for the people who live in Cody.”
Even without the international contestants, there will be plenty of participants for the shows.
“We have a bunch of young kids that are hungry and want to be good,” Tate said. “People will get to see a bunch of kids who are gritty and tough and work their (butts) off.”
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If you go
What: Cody Nite Rodeo
When: This Saturday and every night until Sept. 10. Gates open at 7 p.m., Rodeo begins at 8 p.m.
Where: Stampede Park
Cost: Adults are $23, youth 7-12 $11.50, ages 6 and younger free.