Did you know that Cheyenne, Wyoming is home to the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and western celebration? In this episode of Wynot?, we’re going to learn all about Cheyenne’s Frontier Days and everything this event has to offer. My good friend and realtor Austin Coward will interview Mike Kassel, the Old West Museum’s curator, to get the inside scoop on everything Cheyenne.
Meet Mike Kassel
Mike Kassal is the curator of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. With 21 years at the museum, he's got a pretty good finger on the pulse of what's going on in Cheyenne. He’s seen a lot of things happen and change at the museum and is excited about where it’s going.
When Mike first got to the museum, it was doing very well. However, it was still transitioning from being a small museum to a larger one. The museum has been collecting like crazy over the last 10 years, adding so many new things into the collection that Mike can hardly put any of them out on display.
The museum is getting ready to do a major expansion, Mike says, which will almost double its size. This will give people a whole new way of experiencing Cheyenne’s frontier.
When it comes to rotating exhibits, the Old West Museum has an interesting and very busy schedule. The first exhibit change happens in March, which kicks off their entire year. There’s also the Western Spirit Art Show and Sale, where the museum invites all kinds of novice and new artists to show their art in their galleries. The show runs throughout March and into April.
After April, this exhibit is taken down in preparation for the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days. After Frontier Days and between shows, all the parade vehicles and the colorful, horse-drawn carriages are put on display. A lot of people recognize them from the parades, offering them a chance for people to get up close and really enjoy them.
While the carriages are inside the museum building, Mike also changes out all of the exhibits. A large number of the many items they have in their collection are brought out. However, Mike notes that at any one given time, they only have about 1% of what they own out on display. This gives them a large opportunity to keep rotating galleries, which they do every year.
Cheyenne Frontier Days
A huge draw of people to Cheyenne is the annual Frontier Days. Everybody who comes to CFD can enjoy the Old West Museum, with an average attendance of about 46,000 to 52,000 people a year. The number of visitors is always increasing, and they’re anticipating a trajectory that keeps climbing as people continue to be interested in Cheyenne’s way of life and the sport of rodeo.
For those who want to give back to the community and get involved, the CFD is a great way to start. People volunteer to help with CFD, build exhibits, work with the collections, and increase the many people from around the world who come to Cheyenne Frontier Days. They also do a lot of programming, kids’ activities, and more.
Preserving Cheyenne’s History
The Old West Museum was founded in 1978, just after the Bicentennial of the United States. People were starting to become interested in their local history. Because of that, the volunteers here at Cheyenne Frontier Days thought a museum was needed to talk about this wonderful event.
Cheyenne Frontier Days is the first of its kind in the world, setting up the entire sport of the modern rodeo. The museum talks about that entire legacy as well as the history and heritage of the community—which was the inspiration for Cheyenne Frontier Days.
The museum walks visitors through Cheyenne’s earliest days—founded by the Union Pacific Railroad—and into the Hell on Wheels days when it was a very wild place. It also shows how the city developed and changed to become one of the most remarkable communities in the American West.
Bringing The Community Together
In galleries and through exhibits, the museum offers programs that take people outside of the building to tour the local ranching community. This allows people to see and enjoy the ranching heritage that has made Wyoming such an incredible place to live. Through art shows and educational programs, the museum invites children to experience the West and have a good time.
For the Old West Museum to be able to do what they do, sponsors are vital. Their programming is incredibly expensive, the lights need to be kept on, and the staff has to be paid. More importantly, they have to be able to provide for the community. The various programs and functions presented throughout the year take an incredible amount of resources and time.
Sponsors are one of the most wonderful ways that the museum can provide top-notch world-class art shows and programming to engage with the community. Without their sponsors, they couldn’t do what they do—and they’re very grateful for all the help. As one of the sponsors, REMAX is excited to be part of the community and help preserve the Western heritage we all know and love here.
Visit The Old West Museum
As you can tell, the Old West Museum is a must-visit if you live in or are visiting Cheyenne. You’ll have tons of fun experiencing some of Cheyenne Frontier Days’ history and heritage at the museum. To learn more about the museum, visit their website to find out everything you need. You can also see how you can get involved and become a sponsor.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about the museum firsthand from curator Mike Kassel. If you’d like to find out more about Frontier Days and Cheyenne living, feel free to reach out to me and I’ll be happy to help. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel so you never miss an episode of Wynot?, my show all about living in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Stay tuned to see what I feature next!