By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily
And by the way, the Pokes won last Saturday! But there was so much more going on besides a football game.
A real old-fashioned football weekend at Laramie had not occurred for over two years. But this weekend was just so much fun – the tail-gating, the banquets, the pomp, the huge crowds, and it even culminated with a nail-biter of a football game victory.
I was there for most of it. This column and these photos tell some of the stories that were occurring all over Laramie and Cheyenne during this festive weekend.
Fall weather in the mid-70s and just a slight breeze contributed to about as good an environment as in all of UW history.
We talked with tailgaters from Cheyenne, Yoder, Lander, Wheatland, and Laramie. As you walked around the huge War Memorial Stadium, the smells of burgers, pizza, barbecue, burrito’s, and just about every other tasty item were in the air. My favorite was a breakfast burrito from the folks in Wheatland.
The bright gold color favored by Coach Craig Bohl was all over the place as folks dressed up in their golden best. And yet, at the game, the fans sat in an organized manner so the crowd was striped, with sections alternately gold and brown.
Our weekend started Friday night with a gala event at the Governor’s Residence in Cheyenne where First Lady Jennie Gordon saluted individuals and organizations that had taken her Wyoming Hunger Initiative and made it a huge success.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield has become a major sponsor on the project. When BC/BS also became the primary sponsor the UW’s game Saturday, it only made sense to incorporate the “Tackle Hunger” campaign into their game sponsorship, too.
A big crew of volunteers wearing “Tackle Hunger” tee shirts worked hard raising awareness of hunger issues in Wyoming, especially among young people.
The Cheyenne event Friday night was outside under a nice tent and included a spectacular meal. And then the sky opened up and it rained like crazy for about 20 minutes. The tent held up but those of us sitting on the edge got pretty soaked. Gov. Mark Gordon was in a good mood and announced: “Here in Wyoming, we never, never complain about the rain!”
We sat with Chuck and Katie Brown of Wheatland, Susan and Doug Samuelson of Cheyenne, and Kim and Mary Kay Love of Sheridan.
Author CJ Box was there and said the new TV series called Joe Pickett about his successful books is progressing nicely. More on that later. Very exciting news.
Some other folks there included Katie Legerski, Jonathan Downing, Diane and Jeff Gore and a slew of people from all around the state. I apologize for forgetting all their names. It was a who’s -who of generous Wyoming folks.
Later that evening, we attended the induction ceremony at UW of some fantastic former Cowboy athletes. They were also recognized during halftime of the game. My personal favorite was “The Greybull Rifle,” Tom Wilkinson, who went on to fame in the Canadian Professional Football League.
Special note: the UW band was outstanding. They even performed a song from the rock group Queen. Not an easy play for a marching band, I would assume.
There was a huge amount of tailgating events being held inside the football team’s practice facility.
As for Covid, we saw probably 10 people masked up during the whole time outside. Yet there was a nurse named Terri Garner roaming around with a mask on and holding a sign asking people to get vaccinated. She predicted this game would be a super spreader event for the state.
That truly was the only discouraging word I heard during the entire weekend.
It was a huge crowd, probably over 27,000. Montana State brought a large group of fans, but the overwhelming fan base was pro-Cowboy “gold or brown.” And yes, with less than one minute remaining, the Cowboys snatched Victory from the Jaws of Defeat, with a 19-16 victory.
We spent the second half in the Wildcatter Suites. What a nice facility. Ran into Dave Crum of Casper, Judy and Don Legerski of Lander, and my old pal Gus Fleischli of Cheyenne. Gus just turned 95 and is a World War II vet.
Keener Fry was all over the place. He was truly everywhere from their tailgater stand, to the Hall of Fame banquet, to leading the folks at the Wildcatter Suites in cheering on the Pokes in the final minutes. He is in charge of UW Alumni Association.
It is easy to love being in SE Wyoming on a game day in September. Life just does not get any better than this. It was a wonderful time full of fantastic Cowboy fans.