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Beginning today, Casper will grow by around 1,000 people and maybe that many horses, cattle and goats.

It’s the start of an event that signals the beginning of summer and the best Casper has to offer as we welcome the participants in the College National Finals Rodeo.

We’d like to be among the first to say to those who are coming back, “We’re glad to see you.” For those coming to Casper for the first time, “Welcome. We hope you enjoy being in the heart of the West, and the last great wild place.”

This event has grown into a fixture in our community, and there couldn’t be a more appropriate event for the heart of cowboy country. This particular rodeo has so many things to like about it.

It’s not just any rodeo. It’s the culmination of an entire rodeo season. Many of these athletes don’t get the glory — or even the credit — that some collegiate athletes do. Nonetheless, they put in the same kind of practice, have the same kind of morning-noon-and-night dedication and become great ambassadors for the sport and their college or university. It’s not only fun to see them compete, it’s inspiring, knowing that they’ve had to work in the classroom and in the arena in order to get here.

We also wish them a safe ride. Rodeo, like any other sport, is dangerous. We also say a word of thanks for the medical staff and trainers who are on standby for the entire course of the event. They probably don’t get the credit they deserve.

For all the visitors, we hope you enjoy the time in Casper. The city has great places to see, good shopping and an expanding number of restaurants. We hope you have a great time here, and tell folks about coming to a place where boots, hats and trucks aren’t just the stuff of country music.

For Casper residents, this is another great opportunity to show just what it is that makes Wyoming special. We talk constantly about our way of life, our heritage and the cowboy code of ethics. Let’s show folks that the South doesn’t hold the franchise on hospitality.

It’s also important that folks in the area support the event, by attending some of the events. The hard work and athleticism are not only a great testament to these students, but rodeos are just darn fun. This rodeo has personal appeal, as the announcer gives the life stories of the student/competitors. It’s just more interesting when the bronc rider is also a junior majoring in elementary education. It’s important that we show our support of the riders and the rodeo. This is something we’re proud to have in Casper.

The CNFR should also serve as an important reminder to the community about the impact and value of tourism. Beyond having the bragging rights about having the CNFR, the weeklong event brings a lot of new faces to Wyoming. We have to believe many will continue to come back for the scenery, for the horses and maybe for the way of life. It’s not hard to put a figure on it, either. City officials have pegged the event at an $8.1 million value to the community. That’s a pretty hefty economic boost.

The rodeo proves that Casper has what it takes to be a tourist destination. It also underscores the importance of tourism and our ability to play host, as Casper gets ready to build its own conference center. Events like the CNFR should help Casper attract other events and conferences to town.

For those visiting this week: Wherever the road leads from Casper, happy trails and we hope you make it back here again.


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