Quality of College National Finals Rodeo event recognized nationallyWritten by Christy Hemken
The rodeo claimed the title of “Best Collegiate Multi-Sport or Multi-Discipline Event” from SportsTravel magazine. Events were nominated and voted upon by readers of the magazine, which is the sports world’s event publication.
Six finalists in each category were announced in August. The CNFR was ultimately chosen ahead of the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa; the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Johnson City, Tenn.; the NCAA Division II Winter National Championships Festival in Houston, Texas; the NJCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. and the STIHL TimberSports Collegiate Challenge in Columbus, Ga.
“It’s a family event, and appealing to a lot of people and this award shows the community support the CNFR has gotten from Casper,” says CNFR Ticket Chairman John Phillips.
Criteria for the award included superior organization of and attendance at the event, a superior experience for competitors and/or spectators and the event’s host city or venue serving to enhance the event.
Other events that won awards were the 2009 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Detroit, Mich. as the Best Collegiate Sports Event Series or Circuit and the 2008 Texas vs. Oklahoma football game in Dallas, Texas as the Best Collegiate Single-Sport Event.
Of the CNFR’s success in Casper, Phillips says, “They like what we have going on here, and the CNFR leadership has told us they’re not looking to move elsewhere.”
He adds that kids and parents enjoy traveling to Casper. “All the feedback we get is positive. There’s been some competition from other cities with more money, but the leadership likes what Casper does.”
Casper Area Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Aaron McCreight says a lot of people come from all over the country to participate in or watch the rodeo. “Natrona County and the CNFR committee put on a great show,” he says. “It’s a great event, with nationwide participation.”
Phillips says Casper is geographically perfect, located in the center of the West, and the weather is mild in June when the rodeo’s held. “A lot of people come from hot weather and humidity, and it’s a real treat for them to come here to compete,” he says, adding that there’s also tourism and other locations to visit and make the trip bigger than the rodeo itself.
The 2009 CNFR marked the 11th year for the event in Casper. This year’s CNFR welcomed 363 participants from 87 colleges and universities, representing 33 states and four Canadian provinces. The 2009 event recorded a 15 percent jump in ticket sales from the previous year as nearly 19,000 fans flocked to the Casper Events Center for the competition.
“This national award was the total package of city, county, state, and college rodeo working together to produce a highly successful event that is recognized throughout the United States,” says National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Commissioner Roger Walters. “This monumental achievement of the College National Finals
Rodeo Committee and College Rodeo just goes to prove that together, with one purpose, great things are achievable.”
Looking to the 2010 CNFR, McCreight says a celebration of the award will certainly be included. Although the nightly performances haven’t yet been laid out, he assures the event will be bigger and better than last year.
“We’re hopeful that people will follow a winner,” says McCreight. “We hope people who haven’t been for a few years or have never taken part will see they’ve missed out on a big deal, and hopefully they’ll come out and support or sponsor the event.”
Of the award, McCreight says it’s amazing that an event held in the city of Casper would beat out the other nominees. “Some of those other places have subdivisions the size of Casper, but we still garnered attention and praise on the nationwide level. That’s a testament to every single person involved in the CNFR, including fans, sponsors, participants, coaches and everybody. It’s all hands on deck, and everybody has a piece of this award.”