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Have you ever wondered how Cody Yellowstone became synonymous with rodeo? Well, it all began with cowboys demonstrating their roping and wrangling skills behind Cody’s Irma Hotel, hoping to catch on with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Today, you might find musicians selling out concerts around the world, but back in the Wild West, Buffalo Bill Cody’s touring spectacle was the show to see. And while Bill was certainly no pop star, he was at one point considered the most famous man on Earth.  

Shortly after Buffalo Bill Cody’s death in 1917, town leaders looked for ways to commemorate the town founder while furthering his vision of Cody as a tourist town and gateway to Yellowstone National Park. With the park opening to automobiles at the time, rodeo was also viewed as a way to keep equine culture alive. The Cody Stampede was thus born, and today, it and the Nite Rodeo are part of the town’s fabric.

But that’s only the beginning. Here are ten fascinating facts about the Cody Rodeo

There are 92 Nights of Excitement 

The crowd at the Cody Nite Rodeo in Cody Yellowstone

It’s always a good time for some rodeo action in Cody Yellowstone. The Cody Nite Rodeo is held every night from June 1st to August 31st (except during the Cody Stampede) — that’s 92 nights of heart-stopping, pulse-pounding rodeo thrills! There’s no better place for rodeo enthusiasts and curious newcomers alike to take in the spectacle. 

A Rodeo Legend Was Born Here 

Dusty Tuckness pointing at the camera

Dusty Tuckness may be known for fighting bulls, but he’s actually The G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time). Born and raised here in Cody Yellowstone, Dusty has been named PRCA Bullfighter of the Year 10 times and has been selected to fight bulls at the National Finals Rodeo 15 years in a row. He got his start at the Cody Nite Rodeo, and a digital series documenting his journey, Heartbeat of the Rodeo, recently premiered at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Being Grand Marshal is a Big Deal

The July 4 Stampede Parade has attracted a long list of grand marshals, including the Duke – John Wayne. Others include actors Wilford Brimley, Steven Seagall, Yellowstone’s Cole Hause, pilot Chuck Yeager, skier Picabo Street, author Craig Johnson, and Dusty Tuckness. So, who’s going to Git-R-Done this year as Grand Marshal? Legendary comedian Larry the Cable Guy!

From Buffalo Bill’s Wild West to the Nite Rodeo: A Legacy Lives On

The Cody Nite Rodeo was not always the Cody Nite Rodeo. It was initially called the Pup Rodeo when it was started in 1938 by Carly Downing. This wasn’t Carly’s first rodeo. In fact, he had ridden in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show more than 20 years earlier. Over the years, the Cody Nite Rodeo has been an important training ground for cowboys, many of whom have gone on to compete in larger rodeos, including the Cody Stampede.

Each Cody Nite Rodeo features all PRCA Events 

Every Cody Nite Rodeo features a full slate of PRCA-sanctioned events, guaranteeing a non-stop adrenaline rush! Witness the power of saddle bronc and bareback riding, or feel the raw energy of bull riding and steer wrestling. For a touch of speed, cheer on the lightning-fast tie-down roping and team-roping competitions. Barrel racing showcases the incredible bond between horse and rider, while breakaway roping demands both precision and power. Junior events such as junior barrel racing, junior steer riding, and ranch bronc riding are also often included.

An Event Blast From the Past

The Cody Stampede wasn’t always about the traditional rodeo events we see today. Early events no longer included in the proceedings include a saddle horse race for women, a boy’s burro race, and a cowgirl’s race. Audiences were also treated to Roman standing races, wild horse races, and even a wild cow milking contest.

A Stampede Led by a Pioneering Woman: Caroline Lockhart

We can’t tell the story of the Cody Stampede without mentioning Caroline Lockhart. This remarkable woman, owner and editor of the Cody Enterprise, was the first president of the Cody Stampede Association. A true Western heroine, she was also a bestselling author, homesteader, and cattle queen. Her friendship with Buffalo Bill Cody and unwavering dedication to the town’s legacy cemented her place in Cody’s history.

High Stakes and Big Payouts

Heartbeat of the Rodeo Invite

The Cody Stampede ranks proudly among the top 15 rodeos in the world, attracting top talent with a purse exceeding $400,000. This prestigious event pushes cowboys to their limits, offering them a chance to compete for glory and a significant financial reward. Witness these fierce competitors battle it out for the coveted championship title.

Chief Plenty Coups and the Crow Tribe

The early years of the Cody Stampede saw enthusiastic participation from Chief Plenty Coups and the Crow Tribe. Members of the Crow Tribe not only competed in rodeo events and rode in the parade, but also shared their traditions through captivating dance performances. This spirit of inclusivity and respect for the region’s Indigenous peoples remains a hallmark of the Cody Stampede.

A Night To Howl

Until it burned down in 1940, Wolfville Hall was the heart of evening entertainment during the Stampede Rodeo, with dancing, gambling and other activities combining to create a “night to howl.” The evening was also one of the Stampede’s largest fundraisers.

Saddle Up For A Summer Adventure 

Rodeo is at the heart of so much we do in Cody Yellowstone, and we can’t wait to share it with you. Request your free Cody Yellowstone Vacation Guide today. It’s packed with information on the best times to visit, must-see attractions, and accommodation options to suit every style and budget.  Don’t miss the chance to experience Cody Yellowstone, the undisputed “Rodeo Capital of the World!”