Evanston, Wyoming, Benefits From Utah Fireworks Bootleggers

While the Utah fire marshal is warning residents there to not cross into Wyoming to bring back illegal fireworks, business at Evanston fireworks stands is booming.

John Thompson

July 03, 20233 min read

Phantom Fireworks in Evanston, Wyoming, sees thousands of customers a year from Utah, where most fireworks are illegal.
Phantom Fireworks in Evanston, Wyoming, sees thousands of customers a year from Utah, where most fireworks are illegal. (Courtesy Phantom Fireworks)

Thousands of Utah residents are lining up to buy fireworks just across the border in Evanston, Wyoming.

They're unlikely to get caught bootlegging illegal fireworks across the border, but could face a $680 fine if they do, according to Utah law.

Zachary Peterson, manager of Phantom Fireworks in Evanston, said stuff that goes boom is flying off the shelves. He’s seeing thousands of customers per day as opposed to only a few on most days throughout the year, and people from Utah in particular seem to have an affinity for stuff that explodes.

"It's mostly Utah people that we see this time of the year,” he said. “In fact, it's mostly Utah people that we see throughout the year. We get a few other people traveling through. Locals really only come in on July 3rd and 4th. We're happy to do business with anyone who stops here."

Cakes Are OK

Utah State Fire Marshal Ted Black told Cowboy State Daily that Utahns need to make their fireworks purchases inside Utah.

Black said about ten years ago Utah began allowing "cakes," a multi-shot device that travels higher than 15 feet but no higher than 150 feet.

"Cakes were a big step and it's worked out pretty well," Black said with regard to fire protection. "No single-shot mortars, roman candles, bottle rockets or firecrackers are legal in Utah."

Utah also regulates where fireworks can be launched and when fireworks can be touched off to two days before, the day of and one day after New Years, Independence Day and Utah's Utah State holiday, Pioneer Day, on July 24.

Peterson said the 500 gram and larger single-shot mortars are some of his top sellers, and they normally see a second surge in business right before Utah's Pioneer Day.

"People seem to love the huge mortars," Peterson said. "The 5- and 6-inch shells are the biggest sellers these days. Some of them travel over 250 feet in the air."

Just before Independence Day 2020, Phantom Fireworks was completely sold out, Peterson said.

"We're hoping that doesn't happen again this year," he said.

Just Don’t Get Caught

Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Brian Peterson said extra troopers will be on the road this weekend, but there is no special focus on bootleggers running illegal fireworks.

"If we come upon illegal fireworks during our encounters we will take action," Peterson said in a text message to Cowboy State Daily. "But we don't have firework shifts like we do for DUI's and other things."

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John Thompson

Features Reporter