Rodeo, music and family fun offered at Chris LeDoux Memorial Days
In Wyoming, and in western communities across the country, Chris LeDoux remains a legend. To honor his memory, the Kaycee, WY, community has organized an annual Chris LeDoux Days, where families gather for rodeos, live music, a live auction and general good time. This year marks the second annual event, which will be held June 16-17, with a separate golf tournament taking place July 6-7.
“This was Chris’s home where he raised his kids, and he was first and foremost a family man. He loved his music and was a great artist, and he was also a World Champion rodeo cowboy. There wasn’t a star the guy couldn’t reach, and we want kids to remember that. We’ve got some pretty sad icons in this day and age, and it’s important to remember the good ones like Chris. It gives kids someone to think about who did things honestly, humbly and through hard work,” explained Chris LeDoux Memorial Foundation Coordinator Pam Kinchen of the reason for starting such an event. She added that parents also enjoy reminiscing about LeDoux, keeping the stories alive for the next generation.
The weekend combines LeDoux’s loves of rodeo, music and family, kicking off with a rodeo at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, complete with Native American relay races. Immediately following the rodeo is free beer in downtown Kaycee, where the main street is blocked off. To help attendees reach downtown are horse-drawn wagons playing Chris LeDoux tunes.
“We’re also having a live auction, and have a lot of great items committed. Brian O’Leary will be bringing something great that will be a surprise to everyone – last year it was an autographed ball from Garth Brooks. We also have special, Second Annual Chris LeDoux Days men’s and women’s coats for sale, and other collector’s memorabilia,” explained Kinchen.
Following the auction the live music begins. Four bands are slated to play a free street dance on Kaycee’s main street that will keep feet tapping from mid-afternoon into the next morning. Pinedale, WY, native Jared Rogerson will start things off, followed by Earl Wear and Haywire. Chris’s former band, Western Underground, will then take the stage, and the night will be wrapped up sometime after 2:00 a.m. by Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band.
“Chris always believed in young kids getting a good start in music, and liked to help them. We have so many great up and coming bands in our area that we are very happy to include in our lineup. The street dance showcases some great acts and is a family favorite,” noted Kinchen.
At the heart of the festivities, and directly across from where the bands play, is a park dedicated to Chris LeDoux. It features a life-and-a-half size bronze of LeDoux during his world championship ride on the bronc Stormy Weather. The horse is perched on a replica of Chris’s favorite Guild guitar, and inscribed with LeDoux song lyrics. The piece was created by sculpture Mike Thomas of Buffalo, Wyoming, who aptly name it, “Good Ride Cowboy.”
Kinchen explained that the LeDoux family owned the city lots the park is currently located on, and following a flood that devastated downtown Kaycee in 2002 discussed the possibility of turning them into a park.
“When Chris passed away, everyone worked together to make it happen. Mike Thomas had already completed the bronze, and so many things came together to make it happen. Everyone in the community pitched in and donated time and materials to make the park what it is today,” she stated.
If folks aren’t worn out from dancing the night away in Kaycee, they can also sign up for the 2012 Chris LeDoux Memorial Spurs and Spikes Golf Tournament, to be held July 6-7 at the Powder Horn Golf Club in Sheridan, WY.
“This year we will be at the 100 percent give back stage with the golf tournament, and all proceeds will be going to the Make a Wish Foundation. There is also another live auction held in conjunction with the tournament, and it will feature some pretty hot items from numerous country music acts,” said Kinchen, listing an autographed Leanne Rimes record album as one item that will be up for purchase this year.
Future plans for the events include continuing to increase their size, and hopefully working into some main stream country music acts for the street dance in addition to the young artists and bands that play.
“It’s a wonderful, heartwarming event comprised of family and community, which Chris would have loved. Everyone takes a weekend to let their hair down, enjoy their families and our great community. You need to come and see it and enjoy it once, because then you will come back every year,” she concluded.