By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Buffalo’s sleepy downtown is a treasure to locals. But a major television network has stirred some debate with its claim that the small town nestled at the foot of the Bighorn mountains needs a “kick start.”
HGTV is spending several weeks in this northeast Wyoming town focusing on three refurbishment projects – a commercial business, a private home and a public space – in an effort to give the small town a boost.
“To save this town, we need to make it, like, a destination,” Jasmine Roth, of the television show “Help! I Wrecked My House” said in the promo video for the Buffalo episode of “Home Town Kickstart Presented By PEOPLE,” titled “A Boost for Buffalo.”
But reactions among patrons of the town’s signature diner, the Busy Bee Cafe, were mixed as to whether the town needs the help of HGTV and hosts Roth and Ty Pennington, stars of “Extreme Home Makeover.”
“Personally, no,” said Skip Hancock, former mayor and city councilman for the town of Buffalo, when asked if Buffalo needs this type of boost.
“But we’ve got to grow. We got to improve,” he continued. “We’ve got to invite people in, it’s just called business.”
According to Kelly Rivezzi of the Discovery Channel, the parent company for HGTV, the project is intended to revitalize the town’s economy by encouraging people to stay longer in the area by making it more inviting to visitors.
“Buffalo was selected from the thousands of submissions HGTV originally received for the hit series ‘Home Town Takeover,’” she told Cowboy State Daily.
One of the projects in Buffalo will involve the re-opening of the community’s only movie theater, which has been closed for the last two years.
Jerry Tift, who has lived in Buffalo for over 70 years and was one of Hancock’s fellow coffee-drinkers at the Busy Bee Saturday morning, felt that the producer’s focus on private businesses and private homes isn’t much help to the town at large.
“The only thing I think Buffalo could use some help on is a swimming pool,” he said. “I don’t think they should be giving (help) to private business.”
The idea that Buffalo needs help being “more inviting to visitors,” as the promo suggests, is in contradiction to what Robert Herzog, who joined Hancock and Tift on Saturday morning, has observed.
“We used to have three grocery stores downtown,” said Herzog. “And all we’ve got now is antique shops.”
Penny Duvall, a waitress at the Busy Bee Cafe — the breakfast haunt of author Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire — watched the trailer for the HGTV show. She agreed with the show’s producers that Buffalo’s economy could use a boost.
“They don’t expand,” she said of the small town. “You know, they stay the same size. So maybe more people coming into town, maybe it’d be a good thing? I mean, probably for revenue and for businesses, too – they’ve got to eat, right?”
Duvall has only been in town for ten years, literally arriving on a bus in the middle of the night to meet her husband here, who had moved to Buffalo a few months earlier to set up their home.
But her experience in Buffalo has been positive and she told Cowboy State Daily the small town feel is what keeps the town charming.
“You can make it here,” Duvall said.
Buffalo is one of six towns around the country chosen by HGTV for this limited series. Other towns which will be in the spotlight are Winslow, Arizona; Cornwall, New York; LaGrange, Kentucky; Thomaston, Georgia; and Minden, Louisiana.
The episode featuring Buffalo will air on HGTV at 8 p.m. April 24.