With the Fourth of July right around the corner, Cody prepares for its annual festivities and celebrations. This patriotic holiday is always accompanied by barbecues, firework displays, the rodeo, and the parade. In fact, it has been said that the Stampede is the largest Fourth of July parade west of the Mississippi River. No wonder hundreds of people travel to Cody each year to join in on the fun.
Many visitors may wonder why a town so small has such a big Fourth of July celebration.
Well, one could argue Buffalo Bill was the man that sparked the years of tradition.
The town of Cody is recognized as the Rodeo Capital of the World, and it all started roughly 100 years ago with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. Although Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was never formally performed in Cody, tryouts did take place behind the Irma Hotel in the area that is now the parking lot. The show featured skilled star performers that dazzled the crowds with their sharpshooting, riding, and roping abilities.
Finally, after years of being in the spotlight, Buffalo Bill finally closed his famous Wild West extravaganza in 1913; however, he hosted one last parade and rodeo in Cody for the Prince of Monaco. Soon after, in 1917, Buffalo Bill passed away, and a man named Clarence Williams established a rodeo in honor of Buffalo Bill and his many contributions to the West. The year after Williams established the rodeo, the Cody Stampede was moved to the Fourth of July, sparking the beginning of many town traditions.
Additionally, during this same point in time, the East Gate to Yellowstone National Park opened, which encouraged travelers from all around to country to visit Cody before kicking off their sight-seeing adventures.
Every year, after the rodeo and parade on the Fourth of July, a celebration was held at the Cody Auditorium—formerly known as Wolfville Hall—complete with dancing and gambling.
Years later, Carley Downing,—a former Wild West performer—established the Cody Nite Rodeo. The Nite Rodeo quickly became an important staple in the Cody community. Cowboys traveled from all over the country in order to compete and experience a taste of the rugged West.
As a result of these critical events that have taken place throughout the years, parades and rodeos have been a part of Cody’s Fourth of July celebrations since the turn of the century.
So this Fourth of July—if you have the chance to spend it in Cody—don’t miss out on the opportunity to sit back, relax, and maybe even take part in the tradition that made this town the perfect place to celebrate.