Earlier this year, some individuals involved in agriculture from the Douglas area and those involved in rodeo at the Wyoming State Fair (WSF) started discussing the opportunity to bring back the ranch rodeo at WSF.
The good news is, at their latest board meeting, WSF agreed to partner with this local group and host the ranch rodeo on Aug. 15 at WSF.
I applaud both the local group and WSF for making this happen. It is really good news.
The local group had raised enough money for a stock contractor and prizes to put on the rodeo and calcutta when they first met with the WSF board and rodeo staff. At subsequent meetings, negotiations decided what each party could provide.
The goal of both groups was to determine how the partnership could put on a ranch rodeo this summer and in to the future.
The ranch rodeo was always a popular event at WSF, as the stands were usually full of spectators. It is a fitting event for the state of Wyoming, and it gave winning competitors the opportunity to qualify for regional and national ranch rodeos.
It made us realize there are some excellent ranch rodeo teams from Wyoming, and we are proud of them.
In 2022, there wasn’t a ranch rodeo at WSF. The board discontinued it because it didn’t make any money the year prior. I sure hope this partnership can make it work for the future.
During the April 11 meeting, it was troubling for me to hear WSF express their goal of increasing revenue for the state. This goal, which is a statutory responsibility of WSF, really puts the WSF board and staff in a tight position. Sure we all like to make money, but I don’t think WSF should be a revenue maker for the state.
There is a good staff and board managing WSF, and they are trying to keep the fair afloat for the future, while providing a great fair experience for all who attend.
State fairs should be held to showcase agriculture and our Western way of life. It is a time to showcase 4-H and FFA youth and the hard work that goes in to their projects.
But, in order to provide these opportunities, there has to be entertainment, such as a demolition derby, on top of the cost of admission to bring in revenue.
There are two states in the nation that don’t have a state fair anymore, and I suppose it’s because of lack of resources. We need to recognize a successful state fair needs to be subsidized by the state, and it will need a strong sponsorship from businesses. This is sometimes hard for states like Wyoming with its boom and bust history.
A successful state fair needs strong support from local area communities. Instead of asking what a state fair will do for us, we need to ask what we can do to support our state fair.
And most importantly, we all need to stop complaining, myself included. A state fair is an easy target, but it’s also easy to support.
WSF has a long list of supporters who have worked tirelessly throughout its history, and we can honor them by following their example. We also need to visit with our legislators and explain the good things WSF does for our state.
Dennis Sun is the publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, a weekly agriculture newspaper available online and in print. To subscribe, visit wylr.net or call 800-967-1647.