Yee-Haw! A Rodeo Party at Brucemore

From the Archives: Frontier Days

July 4th, 2018

A proclamation issued by Cedar Rapids Mayor J.F. Rall appeared in the Cedar Rapids Republican in June 1925, and made an interesting appeal. “…it is the earnest request…that as far as possible all residents of Cedar Rapids wear the typical ‘ten gallon hat’ during the week of July 8th-11th.” Cedar Rapids was about to host its first Frontier Days, a Western themed festival complete with a rodeo. Local stores advertised ten-gallon hats for sale and reported that they were flying off the shelves.


Cedar Rapids Frontier Days were billed as “the greatest ever held anywhere – not excepting Cheyenne (Wyoming).” The concept of Frontier Days had originated in Cheyenne in 1897, and had become a nationally known event that drew thousands of cowboys, cowgirls, and spectators from around the country.

The Cedar Rapids Amusement Committee decided to sponsor a similar event for the city, and even planned to outdo Cheyenne’s festival. They purchased 118 acres of land outside of Cedar Rapids proper to build “Frontier Park,” which later became Hawkeye Downs.

Cedar Rapids Frontier Days drew in many of the star rodeo performers from around the country to compete for the large cash prizes offered to winners. The Amusement Committee even sent letters to Will Rogers and the Secretary of the Navy requesting the presence of the U.S.S. Shenandoah, the first Navy blimp.

The Douglas family was swept up with rodeo excitement with the rest of Cedar Rapids. Ellen and Barbara hosted a rodeo party on the Fourth of July, and invited 200 guests. The Evening Gazette reported that a platform had been built on the lawn in the shape of a corral with Moon-shaped lights and colored lanterns. The festivities for the evening included an “old fashioned Western bar” where Howard served soft-drinks and a hot dog stand. Other activities included dancing, fireworks, and Western costume contests.

Overall, the Douglas family spent $2,052.27 on donations to the Cedar Rapids Amusement Committee and on their own rodeo party. Adjusted for inflation, it is roughly $28,800 in modern currency.


Image 1: Proclamation from Mayor Rall, June 1, 1925, Cedar Rapids Republican.

Image 2: Selections from Irene Douglas’s check register, July, 1925.


Do I need to pay to enter the estate and walk on the grounds?

No. Visiting the Brucemore estate during grounds hours is free. Tickets are only required for scheduled tours and events, and they can be purchased in advance online.

Is a reservation needed to visit Brucemore?

You do not need a reservation to visit the grounds on your own. You do need a ticket to go inside the mansion. We recommend advance reservations for any of our mansion tours or other scheduled special themed tours due to limited capacity. Please visit our calendar to see upcoming opportunities and to purchase your tickets.

Touring the Mansion

Can I take pictures inside the mansion?

Yes. Photography is allowed during tours for personal, non-professional use. Tripods, selfie-sticks, or other photography equipment will not be permitted. Photographs should not distract from others’ enjoyment.

How large is the mansion?

Brucemore is approximately 15,000 square feet.

How many fireplaces, rooms, and floors does Brucemore have?

There are 21 “main” rooms, 14 fireplaces and four floors plus an attic.

Is all of the furniture original to the house and families?

Much of the furniture you will see on display belonged to the second or third families to live at Brucemore; however, some pieces had to be replaced with replicas or similar antiques.

Is the mansion handicap accessible?

The Brucemore mansion includes multiple floors and several staircases. Because of the historic architecture, some spaces are not accessible. Due to preservation work, the wheelchair lift that offers accessibility to the first floor is not available at this time. An elevator is not available from the first floor to the other floors at any time. Learn more about accessibility at Brucemore.

Group and School Tours

Is there an age requirement for students visiting Brucemore?

You do not have to be a certain age to visit or attend a program at Brucemore. Different programs are best suited for different ages. Tours of the mansion are recommended for 4th grade and older due to the concepts and historic collection.

Where do we park?

Parking is available on site a short walk from the mansion or carriage house. Buses must follow special instructions. Large events may not be able to accommodate on-site parking; please see the event calendar information for exceptions.

Is bus parking available?

Yes. Bus parking is available near the carriage house. Buses must arrive via special directions as they are unable to fit in our historic gates.

Is there a lunch area at Brucemore?

There is not a designated area indoors or outdoors to eat; however, you are welcome to bring your own blanket or chair to picnic on the grounds. Please carry out any trash to help our small staff keep the grounds beautiful.

Does my group have to arrive together?

Please let group members or chaperones know where they can meet the group.

What is your payment policy?

Brucemore admission is to be paid prior to the visit and a deposit may be required. Payment can be made by cash, check, or credit card and should be paid in one sum.

Do I need to make an appointment to tour the mansion?

You must have a ticket to a tour or program inside the mansion. Many tours do sell out in advance; purchase online or by calling 319-362-7375 in advance of your visit to guarantee your spot. See the schedule here.

Is the mansion wheelchair accessible?

The mansion is not currently accessible to wheelchairs due to preservation work. The mansion includes multiple flights of stairs. Most of the outdoor areas of the site are accessible. See our full accessibility information and contact us with additional questions regarding your visit.

Can I walk on the property?

Yes, the grounds and gardens are open daily most of the year. Several self-guided interpretive panels and tours via QR codes are available. See hours here.

What is Brucemore’s ticket policy?

Tickets are non-refundable, but may be rescheduled for comparable programs as space allows. Learn more.

I’m attending a large event at Brucemore. Where do I park?

Large events may require you to park offsite. Please read the event details on the calendar for specific information for each event.

Are weapons allowed at Brucemore?

We prohibit weapons on the property and at programs to ensure the safety and security of all employees and people visiting Brucemore.