C.J. Box To Attend Joe Pickett Trivia Contest In Saratoga Later This Month

Wyoming author C.J. Box will be on hand for the 9th annual "Sleuthing With Joe Pickett" trivia contest at the Saratoga Museum later this month.

August 09, 20226 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Fans of the fictional Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett will have their chance later this month to win prizes, earn bragging rights, and meet the man who created the character, New York Times best-selling author C.J. Box.

The Saratoga Museum will be hosting its 9th annual Joe Pickett Trivia Contest on August 26 in Saratoga. This year’s event is called “Sleuthing with Joe Pickett” and trivia questions will be asked specifically from his books “Long Range”, “Dark Sky” and “Shadows Reel”.

The event, started in 2013 as a fundraiser for the museum, quizzes fans of the Joe Pickett series on their knowledge of the books. Each year, a handful of books are selected from the 22-book series. “Shadows Reel” is the newest offering.

Even Stumps Box

Box told Cowboy State Daily some of the questions about his books have even stumped him.

“There have been lots of questions I couldn’t answer,” Box said. “The folks who put the questions together really dive deep into the books and in some cases they’re referencing plots from up to 22 years ago. If I competed in the Joe Pickett Trivia Contest, I sincerely doubt I’d win.”

Win or lose, Box believes it’s important to support events like the trivia contest, which is one of the museum’s biggest fundraisers.

“It’s an honor, especially when it takes place in my hometown,” he said. “The support locals give to the books warms my heart.”

Dana Davis, the executive director of the Saratoga Museum, said it means a lot to the community that Box would attend the event in light of his worldwide celebrity.

“He’s getting more and more famous, so it really means a lot that he takes time to support a local event like this,” Davis said.

It’s not just locals who come to the event, though.

“I’ve been amazed to meet people from all over the country who now show up for it,” said Box. “And it’s fun to meet local ‘experts’ who show up for the event.”

Small Screen Celebrity

This year’s trivia contest comes as Joe Pickett made his way from the pages of Box’s books to television. “Joe Pickett” recently completed its first season as a Spectrum Original and is now available on Paramount+.

Another television series, “Big Sky”, is getting ready to shoot its third season. “Big Sky” is based on another series of Box’s, which follows Cassie Dewell. Box, who was born and raised in Wyoming, is excited to have not just one but two book series adapted for the small screen.

“It’s a remarkable feeling,” Box said. “For years I loved the idea of seeing my books made into either movies or television series, although I always preferred the idea of TV because it can be done in long-form, like a novel. It took a long time, several detours, and plenty of false starts for it all to come together.”

Box said he’s never written his books with actors in mind but he is pleased with the TV shows’ casting.

Kylie Bunbury was cast as Cassie Dewell in the ABC series Big Sky. The network recently announced the addition of Reba McEntire and Rosanna Arquette to the cast.

The Joe Pickett series cast Michael Dorman as the main character and Julianna Guill as Joe’s wife, Marybeth. Mustafa Speaks was cast as Nate Romanowski, Joe’s investigative partner who often works outside the boundaries of the law.

“It’s kind of annoying when some readers complain that the actor hired for Joe Pickett (or Cassie Dewell) they had in mind wasn’t cast and some blame me for it,” Box said. “There are so many variables that go into casting that it’s crazy. My ‘dream’ actor might not be interested, available or in rehab. Overall, though, I’m unbelievably pleased, especially with the casting in Joe Pickett.”

Both shows have led to a dramatic increase in book sales for Box. In some cases, sales have doubled or tripled from the year before, he said.

“If you think of a television show as one-hour commercials for your books, it’s a terrific boost for an author in terms of sales, readership and exposure,” said Box.

Stepping into Saddlestring

While Box has visited the sets of both shows based on his books, he told Cowboy State Daily he tries not to spend too much time there. Waiting on reshoots of the same scene is one reason, but “it’s also kind of boring.”

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting the actors and crew, though, and I get a thrill out of seeing the sets that have been built,” said Box. “In Joe Pickett, for example, they re-created the Pickett home, Wyoming Game and Fish headquarters, and the fictional town of Saddlestring in and around Calgary, Alberta. It was amazing to see how the set designers created locations and rooms that had been in my head for over 20 years.”

One Regret

Box said he only has one regret when it comes to both series.

“My only regret is that neither series is being filmed in Wyoming and that the millions spent on production are going elsewhere,” said Box. “For that, we can thank the Wyoming Legislature for killing the film incentive program a few years back.”

When the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources Committee meets in Thermopolis on August 30 and 31, they will be discussing the film incentive program.

“My hope is that they’ll pass a new program this year and I know Gov. Gordon supports it,” said Box.

Fans can sign up by visiting www.saratogamuseumwy.com.

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