No job has ever been too big for Cheyenne Frontier Days announcer
Five days before the opening performance of the 2021 Cheyenne (Wyoming) Frontier Days Rodeo, Garrett Yerigan took an inspiring walk around Frontier Park.
He paid particular attention to the details, the angles, the lines … the history of America’s most recognized rodeo. He eventually found himself on the announcer’s platform, overlooking the storied arena from the place that would be his home for all nine performances of the 125th year of Cheyenne’s rodeo.
“I wholeheartedly believe this is what God put me on Earth to do,” Yerigan said of his announcing career. “When He gives you opportunities, like Cheyenne Frontier Days, for example, it removes any doubt in your mind. I’m 26 years old, and I just did ‘The Daddy of ’Em All.’ ”
His maturity supersedes his youth, but that’s always been the case for Yerigan, the son of two rodeo contestants who grew up in the game. His father, Dale, is an 11-time steer wrestling world champion in the International Professional Rodeo Association and is now the association’s general manager.
His mother, Kathy, qualified numerous times for the International Finals Rodeo, the IPRA’s annual championship; she also is the office manager for the physical therapy department for Hillcrest Hospital in Pryor, Oklahoma, the family’s hometown.
Garrett Yerigan cut his teeth in the business at the same time that he was cutting his own teeth. He was just 2 weeks old when made his first rodeo; both his parents were in the competition. He was about 6 or 7 years old when he started announcing slack. He was doing jackpots – both bulldogging and barrel racing – that his family was already going to.
“It just snowballed from there,” he said.
By age 12, he was announcing a once-a-month barrel racing, and within short time, he was announcing the Oklahoma High School Finals Rodeo and handling the sound for the 101 Wild West Rodeo in Ponca City, Oklahoma; that was before sound directors had PRCA cards, and since he wasn’t 18 yet, it worked out fine
By the time he turned 18 and purchased his announcer’s card, he was bidding rodeos and developing his future. His parents may have hoped they’d bred a contestant, but they raised a true hand when it comes to calling the action.
“I tried a little bit of everything,” he said. “I tried sliding the steer saver at home. I tried roping steers at home. I tried riding steers at home. Nothing grabbed me. In going to all these rodeos and playing around with announcing slack, it became more of the announcer’s stand as the cool place to be. It was a safter occupation and an automatic paycheck, and you’re still involved with rodeo.
“I almost feel bad for the contestants, because they’re in town and out of town so fast that they don’t get to enjoy it. I get to enjoy the town and work the rodeo. Every place I go, it feels like a family reunion every year.”
That’s the nice part of his job, whether it’s in Sonora, Texas, or Cheyenne. Oh, and then there was this little thing called the National Finals Rodeo. Yerigan was part of the crew that worked the inaugural National Finals Breakaway Roping, which took place over three mornings in conjunction with the NFR last December in its one-time home of Arlington, Texas.
“I’m very thankful I got up on the path as early as I did,” he said. “Even at my age, I’ve spent time in four Canadian provinces, two Australian states and 20-plus states in the U.S. When I look back at it like that, there are so many things to be thankful for.
“The buckle I put on every day is from the National Finals Breakaway Roping. It was those contestants’ NFR. If it never happens again, Randy Corley, Brad Narducci and I can say we were at the first one. This says more that this is what my calling was in rodeo, and I’m proud to bring it to audiences all over the world.”
He’s busy at it, too. For 2021, he was projected to work 161 performances and will be gone from his home for better than 250 days.
Of course, those two weeks in Cheyenne stand on their own as a particularly interesting opportunity. Most of the biggest names in the game were expected to be there. It was televised daily on The Cowboy Channel, and he – along with announcing partner Kyle Shobe – was one of the faces and voices of the 125th Frontier Days celebration.
The downfall: his friend and fellow Cinch endorsee, Andy Stewart, was losing the job that Yerigan had just gained. The two talked on the phone, and Stewart provided Yerigan the motivation to push ahead and make it happen. Stewart also called before the rodeo’s start to offer insights and advice for the young protégé.
“At the time, I was more worried about my friend losing a rodeo than I was about getting the Cheyenne Frontier Days,” Yerigan said.
That’s a testament to who he is and what he’s about. It’s also a good sign for the future of professional rodeo, and it’s the lessons he gained from Dale and Kathy Yerigan that continue to percolate today.
“I would say I learned a great deal from my parents, both in and out of the arena,” he said. “Dad won 11 world championships in the steer wrestling in the IPRA, so he was obviously doing something right. He taught me the fundamentals even though I didn’t pursue it. I can take you through a run, but it doesn’t mean I want to do it and jump off a horse.”
He laughed a little at the thought. His father had done so thousands of times, but it just wasn’t in the cards. He knows what is.
“As an announcer or as a fan, you have to be a student of the game, but it all stems from the things that Mom and Dad taught me,” Yerigan said. “They taught me a lot about treating people. If you treat people poorly, you’re not going to last long in this business. That’s one of the most valuable things they taught me.”
As the evolution of Yerigan continues, he considers no rodeo nor task unimportant. They can all be tools used later on, whether it’s driving a bulldozer through a swampy parking lot in Claremore, Oklahoma, to pull rodeo rigs out of a muddy mess or feeding livestock or sorting animals at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
“I’ve done a little bit of everything in the trenches,” he said.
It’s led to his new title, which, in essence, is the event’s producer, working alongside all other contract personnel to make each performance be as flawless as possible. He’s a man of many talents and many accolades, and he’s a few years from turning 30. It’s an attribute to his life and his lifestyle for 26 years.
“When I was growing up, I was in a trailer full of steer wrestlers,” Yerigan said. “I didn’t grow up around kids my age. I went to public school for all 13 years, but as far as the summers, I was around adults. When you’re in a trailer with big, hairy-legged bulldoggers, you have to learn to hold your own.”
Garrett Yerigan is still holding his own, and audiences all across the world have heard it.