CNFR: Steer Wrestler

Rooster Yazzie of Western Texas College loses his hat as he competes in steer wrestling during the College National Finals Rodeo on June 11, 2019 at the Casper Events Center.

CASPER, Wyo. — The College National Finals Rodeo is back.

After being canceled in 2020, CNFR is set to return to Casper from June 13-19 at the Ford Wyoming Center.

The event brings together more than 400 of the top college rodeo athletes in the nation, where they compete in saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping and goat tying.

Season tickets will go on sale at fordwyomingcenter.com on Friday, and individual tickets will be available on May 7.

“Last year was tough for so many, including the rodeo community, and we were devastated to cancel CNFR,” Roger Walters, commissioner for the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA), said in a release Tuesday. “This year CNFR — and our student athletes, coaches, parents, fans and supporters — is returning and we cannot wait to see this event back in Casper.”

The Ford Wyoming Center — formerly the Casper Events Center — has hosted CNFR since 2001. This year, heightened cleaning standards and continuous sanitization make the event possible amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“CNFR and Casper go hand-in-hand,” Brook Kaufman, CEO of Visit Casper, said in Tuesday’s release. “It really is the best of the best in college rodeo and we’re so thrilled to have this event and all of its competitors return to Casper this June.”

Kaufman previously estimated that the 2020 event being canceled cost the city close to $2 million.

According to Sarah Neely, the director of public relations and administration for the NIRA, the governing body of college rodeo, the past year has been "crazy," but the NIRA has worked closely with officials from each of the sport's 11 regions to ensure there would be a CNFR this summer.

"Getting the spring and fall schedules figured out just so we could get these kids qualified for the CNFR was the biggest thing we had to deal with," Neely said in a phone interview Tuesday morning. "That was certainly an adventure because we have 11 regions and every one of them was different and had their own unique situations with travel mandates and COVID protocol.

"We’re just really happy to be back. These kids definitely want to compete and we’re happy to give them a chance to do so."

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