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Behind The Scenes At The CNFR

Heidi Foy, Townsquare Media

Since being on the “production” end of rodeo I have learned a lot about the other side of the roping box. Typically a side that most contestants never have an interest in or never get the opportunity to be involved with. Even though I had helped put on our high school rodeo and had even watched my dad put on the WRA Finals in the Event Center for years, I never realized what exactly went into creating a good quality event. One that actually had to have a production staff. Especially one of this caliber. This event is going to be televised on ESPN U. That is a lot of pressure for everyone. Keep your arms off the fence, we don’t want to see them sticking out during the televised cast. You don’t think about that every day. We hear it every night at our pre-rodeo production meeting.

In the pre-rodeo production meeting we typically talk about what time the lights will go out- this is good for Kirsten Vold to know so she can have her stock already in place prior to the “house going black.” If there are any needs for the opening; such as to carry props into place, have people come into the arena to be in place, all of that is discussed at this meeting. It is important that everyone be on the same page so if and when something happens to go wrong, we can quickly make adjustments so that the audience never knows that isn’t how we planned it. Other things we talk about is, for example, how do we get the American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle out quickly, quietly and fast enough so there is no gap in time to get the sponsor flags and up to 60 contestants on horses in- without someone getting hurt. I think that is the key point in all of this. There is so much going on, so many student athletes involved and so much action- how do we get it all accomplished safely. Usually no one in the room has a lot to say with the exception of Jim Dewey Brown, the Arena Director, myself, the Openings Production Manager, David Glodt, our TV guru, and Boyd Polhamus, the rodeo announcer. If anyone has any questions about the logistics of what we have said we talk about it then. When do I open the gate for the sponsor flags to come out? So, you are going to bring the ERV in and then wait to take it out until when? Questions like these seem kind of silly, but without them and the staff to follow through, the openings wouldn’t work and, I can’t say the rodeo wouldn’t go on, but the precision that we strive for wouldn’t be there.

We also have a post-production rodeo. We shoot to have the last bull buck and the rodeo be over by 9 p.m. That is 2 hours full on non-stop excitement from when the house goes dark till the announcer says good evening to you. We all know there are circumstances that cannot be controlled- sometimes a bulldoggin’ steer just feels like sitting down or a bronc doesn’t feel like performing tonight either. They have bad days, too. We understand that but we try to do our best to keep the conditions at their best. If there are areas where we can tighten up, then we will discuss that. This week, we have been running over, but it has been a week of congratulations as they have been smooth performances with no major glitches.

With only 3 more evening performances, year 5 for me, seems to be going very fast and quite smoothly. Even though I had intended on this being my final year, I am already creating new ideas for next year. Even more ways to continue to connect my hometown of Casper, WY to my extended rodeo family/community. I hope to see you all at one of the three remaining perfs. “On my cue, all house lights go to black. 3…2…1… GO!”

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