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Production Company Raising Funds for Documentary on Shoshoni-Born Actress

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper-based film and TV production company is hosting a crowdfunding campaign to produce a documentary on a Shoshoni-born actress.

Wolf Gang of Wyoming is currently working on a documentary, “Forgotten Ingenue,” on Isabel Jewell, an actress from the “golden age” of movies who appeared in numerous films throughout the 1930s and 1940s, including “Gone With the Wind,” “Marked Woman” and “A Tale of Two Cities.”

Filmmaker Dennis Rollins is looking to raise $30,000 through an Indiegogo campaign to complete production of the documentary. Most of the money would pay for set pieces and costuming for the film, which is set before and up to the early 1970s. Jewell committed suicide in 1972.

“Although I have a stable of dedicated actors, they need to be compensated as much as possible,” Rollins said in the campaign description. “So far, we have one Hollywood actor committed to the project and are in discussions with two more. We will also be traveling to, and renting several locations.”

The campaign launched Monday and will run through the rest of the month. As of Tuesday morning, Rollins had raised $725.

As a thank you to supporters, Rollins and the production company are offering donor gifts for certain amounts given, including apparel, custom wine glasses, a private screening of the documentary and more.

If the goal isn’t reached, Rollins said the film will still be completed, but the production company will have to trim its budget.

“But with your support, hopefully we will not have to!” Rollins said.

Other Wolf Gang of Wyoming productions include the “Wyoming Portraits” series that aired for six season on Wyoming PBS, as well as the documentary “Dell Burke and the Yellow Hotel.”

“I don’t make films to get rich. I tell stories that I am passionate about,” Rollins said. “Having completed over 100 projects, that passion remains as strong as ever. But, following this dream takes money. Your support will help achieve our goal of creating an informative, entertaining product.”

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Dubois’ $100 Million National Military Museum To Open On August 7

in News/Coronavirus/arts and culture/Business
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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

The gigantic new National Museum of Military Vehicles will finally open on Aug. 7.

The museum, located just south of Dubois, originally planned to open in May but was postponed because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We are opening the museum Friday, Aug. 7, at 10 a.m.,” founder Dan Starks said. “Admission will be free for the first three days. After that normal admission of $15 will be charged, except for veterans, who will get in free.” Under 18 is $10 admission with under 8 years old getting in for free.

“Face masks and social distancing is required so we can keep all of our older veterans safe,” he said. “We will still be working on finishing some of the exhibits but we have gotten tired of turning everyone away who wants to come inside. We are staffing up and training for the opening.”

The $100 million self-funded project has been a dream of Starks, who bought his first Wyoming property in 2011.

Construction on the new museum started in May of 2017. It is a 140,000 square foot facility, which is designed to hold 200 military vehicles.

But it is much more than a display of vehicles.



Starks is not a veteran but said he has such a high degree of respect for those who served, he sees this project as his life work.

He worked 32 years at a medical equipment company in Minneapolis and was CEO before retiring in 2017. The company was doing $6 billion in revenue per year. He had 28,000 employees working on life-saving devices for the human body, specializing in heart catheters and other devices.

“At one time, we figured our devices were saving a life every three seconds around the world,” he says.

His company was acquired by Abbott Laboratories in 2017. Their web site shows Starks owns over $600 million in stock in the big international company and serves on its board.

The life dream of Dan and his wife Cynthia was to settle in Dubois and do some project to recognize the service of America’s veterans.  

And boy, is this ever some project.

Using Richardson Construction of Cheyenne as a general contractor, the project has hummed along on schedule.  And although the gigantic size of the facility, (you can almost put three football fields inside its walls), Starks now worries that it might be too small. 

They own more than 400 of the most pristine historical vehicles from World War II and other conflicts. He thinks he might only get 200 of them inside the walls. It is assumed to be the largest and best private collection in the world.  

The Starks’ daughter Alynne is the executive director of the facility. Admission will be $15 for adults and $10 for visitors under 18.  Veterans will be admitted for free. The museum will employ 20 people. 

Their plan for the museum has gone far beyond just a place to display vehicles. “We want to create displays that show the landing at Normandy, the surrenders in Germany and Japan, the Battle of the Bulge, and other great moments in our country’s military history,” he says. 

Dan sees the facility having three components:

  • To honor the service and sacrifice of millions of Americans.
  • Preserve the history of what happened during these wars.
  • Provide an educational experience. 

The vast array of vehicles goes beyond the killing machines of tanks, artillery, and flamethrowers.  It also includes dozens of the machines that made the wars winnable. 

Starks likes to discuss how the Red Ball Express helped secure the victories. This was the supply chain that seemed to provide endless amounts of food, ammo, and war machines as Allied troops marched toward victory.

He wants to show how America was able to convert its massive manufacturing expertise to enable the Allies to fight two different wars in different parts of the world and win both in just three and a half years.  

The new museum will show how the American ability to mass-produce cars and trucks was converted to produce tanks, jeeps, airplanes, and other war machines in record amounts that just wore down the enemy.  

“Germany built beautiful machines, but they did not understand mass production like Americans did. It was impossible for them to keep up when it came to replacing and resupplying their troops at key moments in World War II. We want to honor everyone who participated in this great victory. This museum will showcase that effort but showing the machines that were built and how they were utilized,” he said. 

Near the middle of the building’s interior is an amazing vault, unlike anything west of the Smithsonian. It will hold his $10 million collection of historical weapons, including a rifle fired at Custer’s Last Stand and a pistol used by General Pershing in World War I.

The collection includes 270 Winchester rifles. The vault has a safe door that would look just right at the national mint. 

The facility will have meeting rooms and members of the Wyoming legislature are convening there in October.

It also has the Chance Phelps Theatre, named for the brave Dubois Marine who died April 9, 2004 in Iraq.  The movie Taking Chance was about that soldier.

There will be large library with one of the world’s largest collections of manuals and other information about military vehicles.

There is even a Russian-built MiG 21 that was used in the Vietnam War against American soldiers. It is flyable.  

Besides the main museum facility, the Starks built a large building just off Main Street in Dubois to hold many of their vehicles and to be a shop to keep them running. 

Eight years ago, their first home in Dubois was an old homestead. More recently they have purchased a 250-head cattle ranch. Recently they bought a third ranch, which now has 64 bison grazing on it. 

“We love Dubois and we love Wyoming. This is our great adventure,” Starks concluded. 

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Chancey Williams To Perform Free Concert In Sturgis During Rally

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming-based country music band Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band will perform a free concert during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which will be held from Aug. 7-16.

Williams’ show will be at 8 p.m. on Aug. 8 at the Iron Horse Saloon in Sturgis, South Dakota. The group will be joined by Brandon Jones.

The concert will only be open to those 21 or older. Williams will perform songs from his new album “3rd Street,” which features the award-winning single “Wyoming Wind.”

This is Williams’ fifth consecutive year performing at the rally.

All of the rally concerts are free and include headliners such as Colt Ford, Night Ranger, Hairball and Quiet Riot.

Williams grew up on a ranch in Moorcroft and spent some time as a saddle bronc rider before pivoting to music full time. Williams and drummer Travis DeWitt started the Younger Brothers Band when they were in high school and it has since become one of the most popular groups to come out of Wyoming.

The Younger Brothers Band has performed alongside artists such as Dwight Yoakam, Miranda Lambert and Travis Tritt over the years.

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National Geographic Writer Mark Jenkins Joins Wyoming Humanities Council

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

National Geographic writer, author and photographer Mark Jenkins has joined the Wyoming Humanities Council as its inaugural resident scholar this month.

According to a news release from the organization, Jenkins has brought a humanities perspective to geopolitics. His work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Playboy and the Smithsonian Magazine.

Jenkins’ position is a part of Wyoming Humanities’ recently announced initiative, “Wyoming Crossroads,” which will help the state address the social and economic challenges posed by the downtown in Wyoming’s energy industry through the power and creativity of Wyoming’s humanities and cultural arts network.

“We need the public humanities in Wyoming now more than ever,” said Shannon Smith, CEO of Wyoming Humanities, in the news release.  “Mark will engage communities from one corner of the state to the other, continuing Wyoming Humanities’ dedication to leading the discussion on our state’s current geopolitical issues, diverse heritage and deep traditions.”

Jenkins is also a former writer-in-residence at the University of Wyoming and has written four books.

“I’ve had the great fortune of doing assignments around the world.  Wyoming has trained me well in how to handle extremes,” said Jenkins.  “I look forward to offering a global and scholarly perspective on Wyoming’s identity, sense of community, connection to land, persistence, and ability to manage change.” 

Jenkins will continue his global treks and national writing as the pandemic and his work with the humanities council allows.

Wyoming Humanities’ COO Shawn Reese said he thinks the cultural and creative sector is key to helping Wyoming bounce back after the economic impact of the downturn. 

“Wyoming’s wealth is more than the sum of its minerals and mineral trust fund.  The intellectual, human, social, political, and cultural wealth are critical to Wyoming’s well-being.  Mark will help us explore ideas through statewide engagement and the art of storytelling.  Whether Mark is telling a story about his conversations with the King of Bhutan about the Gross Happiness Index or making connections between Namibian rock art and Wyoming petroglyphs, he helps us understand ourselves through the lens of others.”

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Trespassers Cited At Kanye West’s Ranch

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In unrelated incidents, a pair of young men were caught trespassing on Kanye West’s Cody area ranch in recent weeks.

Park County authorities filed misdemeanor criminal trespassing charges against the two, though one of the cases — against a 22-year-old Denver man — is set to be dismissed because of concerns about the defendant’s competency.

Drew C. Togher, a 22-year-old delivery driver, reportedly traveled from his residence in Denver to West Lake Ranch this month.

“I was going to see if I could meet Kanye West,” Togher explained in court last week.

He passed multiple no trespassing signs before being stopped by security personnel early on the morning of Sunday, June 14. After spending roughly a half-hour trying to get Togher to leave, the security officers called the Park County Sheriff’s Office at around 6:15 a.m., charging documents say.

When Deputy Ethan Robinson arrived on scene, he found Togher acting “agitated and impatient.”

“I asked Drew if I let him go with a citation if he would come back, and he responded impatiently while looking around that he would not,” Robinson said. However, believing that Togher would “likely return to the property and create more issues,” the deputy arrested him.

When Togher appeared in Park County Circuit Court the following day, he seemed confused about the proceedings and asked for several of the advisements to be repeated multiple times and spoken more slowly.

When Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters asked Togher if he had a mental disability, the defendant said that “I hear stuff” and described it as being like a “pirate’s curse.”

Togher sought to plead guilty to the misdemeanor trespassing charge, but Judge Waters entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and appointed an attorney for him over concerns about his competency.

Deputy Park County Attorney Jack Hatfield recommended that Togher be released on a signature bond — citing in part a lack of any past criminal charges — with strict orders to stay away from West, his family and West Lake Ranch.

Judge Waters warned Togher that he could have no contact “in any way shape or form with Kanye West, or any member of his family, including extended family members.”

“So no contact directly or indirectly, no attempts to text him, email him, contact him through social media,” Judge Waters advised Togher. “There’s to be no contact with them in any way shape or form, any of them, do you understand me?”

“Same go for him?” asked Togher, referring to West.

“No, this applies to you,” Waters said. “You are not to have contact with him for any reason.”

Togher then asked what would happen if the musician and entrepreneur contacted or messaged him.

“Yeah, I think that’s a long shot; I don’t know,” the judge responded. However, “if he contacts you, you are not allowed to speak with him, talk to him, have anything to do with him. Do you understand that?”

Togher said he did, but he soon asked the judge to go over the bond conditions again.

“I can’t think about the guy at all?” Togher asked at one point, also asking for the definition of “indirect” contact, followed by questions about, “What if I get, like, a signal?” and finally, “what if they’re [messing] with me?”

Judge Waters ultimately decided he would not be releasing Togher on a signature bond and instead set bond at $5,000 cash and ordered a mental evaluation.

“I am concerned for your mental wellbeing. … I have doubts about your ability to comply with bond conditions,” Judge Waters told the defendant.

Togher spent the rest of the week in jail, but was later released to his mother, who traveled from Pennsylvania to Cody to pick up her son and take him home, Hatfield said. The prosecutor said he plans to dismiss the case without prejudice, “and charge [Togher] again if he comes back to Mr. West’s place.”

“Hopefully,” Hatfield said, “he’ll just stay away.”

Meanwhile, the prosecutor is continuing to pursue a Powell man, 19-year-old Henry Waters, who was reportedly caught on West’s property back on May 19. In that instance, Henry Waters was stopped by security personnel, who reportedly noted that his pants were down.

“He admitted that he was masturbating there on Mr. West’s property,” Hatfield said during a Friday court hearing.

In a follow-up interview, Hatfield said that, according to the account given to the sheriff’s office, the defendant said he had simply been looking for a place to pull over.

“He [defendant Waters] stated he did not know he was on private property or who lived there, but they must be very important” given the security personnel, Deputy Robinson reportedly wrote. However, Hatfield said the defendant had passed a half-dozen no trespassing signs.

Defendant Waters pleaded not guilty to criminal trespassing on Friday and was released on a signature bond pending further proceedings.

Among other bond conditions, “do not have any contact in any way shape or form with one Kanye West or any member of the West family,” Judge Waters, no relation, advised the defendant, adding, “you are not to be on the property, on the driveway, on the entrance or within the boundaries of that property in any way shape or form.”

Defendant Waters said he understood.

A trial is tentatively set for Aug. 13.

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Longmire Days Cancels In-Person Activities; Craig Johnson Shares Update On Sheriff

in News/Coronavirus/arts and culture
Longmire Days
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

While the Buffalo celebration in his honor may be moving to a new online venue for 2020, Sheriff Walt Longmire continues to do exactly what he’s always done in the face of the pandemic.

Wyoming author Craig Johnson was asked to write a passage describing what his fictional sheriff, the inspiration for a popular television show, might be doing as Wyoming works its way through COVID-19. His response had the sheriff tackling his job the same as he’s always done.

“With only two cases of COVID-19 in Absaroka County, Wyoming, Sheriff Walt Longmire continues to do his sworn duties along with visits to the one case at the Durant Home For Assisted Living and the second, a musician who contracted the illness at a Cowboy Poetry Festival in Pocatello, Idaho,” the update on Johnson’s Facebook page read. “Everyone is hoping for the best concerning the octogenarian, but community sympathy for the musician is mixed in that he is an accordion player…”

The humorous narrative came as organizers of Buffalo’s Longmire Days announced that instead of postponing the annual celebration because of the coronavirus, they would cancel all in-person activities.

However, there will still be a Longmire Days, it will just take place in the virtual world. From Aug. 13-16, there will be watch parties of the “Longmire” TV series and other virtual events held in place of the in-person event.

Longmire Days is an annual event held in Buffalo every summer that celebrates the series of books featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire written by Wyoming author Craig Johnson. The books served as the inspiration for the television series “Longmire,” which is currently streaming on Netflix. There were six seasons and 63 episodes produced over the course of the series, all starring Australian actor Robert Taylor as the fictional Wyoming sheriff.

The decision was made to cancel the in-person Longmire Days events out of concern for the safety of attendees and the potential risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“The safety of everyone, as always, is foremost in our minds and we feel that the risk to the fans, actors, and our community is just too great,” the organizers wrote on the Longmire Days website.

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Wyoming State Fair On As Planned

in News/Coronavirus/arts and culture
Wyoming State Fair cattle show
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Although the coronavirus pandemic has caused most of Wyoming’s major rodeos to cancel, the Wyoming State Fair is going to go on as scheduled.

The fair, which is held in Douglas, will take place Aug. 11-15. According to organizers on the fair’s website, there will be an “extensive health safety plan” in place.

“We have long been a gathering point for generations of families, while providing a quality educational experience and entertainment for all who have attended,” organizers wrote on the website. “The Wyoming State Fair is a celebration of all things Wyoming and showcases our pride in our traditions, agriculture, innovation, industry, youth, entrepreneurs, artists, entertainment and so much more. This year will be no different.”

While several major rodeos in Wyoming have been canceled by the coronavirus, Gov. Mark Gordon said in May that state officials were doing all they could to make sure the state fair and county fairs continued in some fashion.

Organizers of many county fairs across the state are looking at curtailed schedules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, with several focusing only on 4-H and FFA events and canceling accompanying attractions such as carnivals and night shows.

However, state fair officials plan on a full slate of activities, including a concert by country group Reckless Kelly and singer Jeremy McComb, who will perform on Aug. 13. Tickets for the concert will go on sale July 3.

Other grandstand entertainment will include pig wrestling on Aug. 11, a PRCA rodeo on Aug. 14 and a demolition derby on Aug. 15.

More information about the fair and its new safeguards will be offered in the coming weeks. A current schedule of events can be found here.

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Garth Brooks To Appear At Cheyenne’s Terry Bison Ranch (Sort Of)

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Country music superstar Garth Brooks is going to appear at Cheyenne’s Terry Bison Ranch on June 27.

Well, he’ll appear there and at more than 300 other outdoor theaters across the country (and Canada) during a unique concert event. Brooks will perform a show in Nashville and broadcast it across the country.

“Summer is here! We’re so excited to invite you to an exclusive, first-of-its-kind concert,” the Terry Bison Ranch wrote in the Facebook post announcing the event.

Brooks told Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts that he was looking to do a show during the pandemic but none of the options seemed to work until he ran into someone pitching the drive-in idea.

“This one guy came to me and said they could put 300 – 400 drive-in theaters together if I would put a concert together solely for the drive-in,” Brooks said.  “We can have families jump in the car and come out on a Saturday night. It’s pretty cool.”

The country singer said the drive-in experience should be much better than it was when he was growing up.

“Remember that speaker you hung on the window?  Well now, you can tune the concert right in to your own car radio so you can blast it or blare it for as long as you want with the windows up or the windows down,” he said.

Tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. Friday at a cost of $100 per car or truck.

Brooks is listed as the best-selling solo albums artist in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

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Wyoming State Museum Reopens With Safety Measures In Place

in News/Coronavirus/arts and culture
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By Mari Heithoff, Cowboy State Daily

With the loosening of health rules designed to slow the spread of coronavirus in the Cowboy State, the Wyoming State Museum is welcoming visitors back. 

On June 9, the museum in Cheyenne reopened, with full measures in place to ensure the safety of its visitors. 

Museum Director Mark Brammer explained that the museum’s hours of operation will be somewhat limited to allow for extra cleaning and sanitation and added there are designated weekly hours for vulnerable populations, such as senior citizens to visit the museum. 

The number of visitors allowed inside the museum at one time was boosted to 50 recently with the relaxation of the state’s rules limiting atherings.

While some of the exhibits have been modified or temporarily removed, Brammer explained that the museum still has plenty to offer.

“I think the biggest change is that we’ve had to close the hands-on habitat room,” he said. “We look forward to reopening it once everything returns to normal. Other than that, we’ve removed some touchable displays and touch-screens just for the time being, until we feel it’s safe to bring them back.” 

“All of the information from touch-screen displays can now be accessed by a smartphone or computer, so it won’t hurt the museum experience,” he added.

Brammer said he hopes the museum will return to normal operations eventually and added officials will keep up with the latest health standards to ensure a safe experience for everyone. 

“We’re really working hard to keep the experience as normal as possible for everyone,” he said. “We look forward to seeing more and more local visitors and out-of-state tourists.”

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Casper’s Beartrap Summer Festival Canceled Due To Coronavirus

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Another 2020 Wyoming event bites the dust due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Beartrap Summer Festival organizers announced that they would cancel the 2020 event, but confirmed the festival would return Aug. 7-8, 2021.

The planned headliners for the Casper festival for this year were the Charlie Daniels Band and Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers. Although they won’t appear at the 2020 festival, they will headline next summer, with Hornsby headlining on Aug. 7 and Daniels closing out the Aug. 8 performance, organizers said in a statement.

“The [bands], along with us and everyone in the venue, live entertainment and concert industry are reeling from the current climate for gatherings of our size in the era of ‘social distancing,’ and deeply regret that this year’s festival is to be one of the many impacted by COVID-19,” the organizers wrote on the Beartrap website.

No tickets had gone on sale due to the coronavirus concerns, but if anyone happened to obtain tickets from donations or another way, they will be honored for the 2021 festival.

“It’s our hope that the light at the end of the tunnel will continue to shine brighter in the months ahead and lead the way into the eventual return of more musical merriment like ours – and we will dearly miss seeing you in the meadow this year,” the organizers wrote.

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C.J. Box Says “Big Sky” Series Still On Track For Fall ABC Debut

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The coronavirus pandemic has put a hold on a number of movies and TV shows, but C.J. Box’s “The Big Sky” isn’t one of them.

Box announced the development Friday on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, posting a link to a Deadline story that showed “The Big Sky” would get a full first season commitment, when it was originally commissioned just for a pilot episode.

“Still on track for this fall on ABC…,” Box wrote in his Facebook post.

The show is being created by legendary TV writer and producer David E. Kelley, who has also created shows such as “Big Little Lies,” “Boston Legal,” “Ally McBeal” and “Mr. Mercedes.” Kelley will write multiple episodes and serve as the showrunner for the first season.

The show will focus on private detectives Cassie Dewell and Cody Hoyt, who team up with Cody’s estranged wife, Jenny, to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote road in Montana. The detectives soon find out those aren’t the only girls who have disappeared, racing against time to stop the killer.

The cast will inculde Kylie Bunbury as Cassie Dewell, Katheryn Winnick as Jenny Hoyt and Ryan Phillippe as Cody Hoyt.

“(The television series will) be dark and scary,” Box said in an interview February. “A lot of people who have read it say it is one of the creepiest things they’ve ever read. The pilot I read scared me, even though I knew what was going to happen.”

Box will act as an executive producer on the series, as well.

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Golden Globes: Taking Our Licks From Hollywood

in Dave Simpson/Column/arts and culture
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By Dave Simpson

PEACOCKS: The annual award show season – always good for a horse laugh out here in Deepest Frozen-Tundra Flyover Country – kicked off last week with the Golden Globe Awards.

This is when preening, self-absorbed peacocks who I couldn’t name if you held a gun to my head, dress up like they’re going to the prom, and gather for a feed folks like us could never afford, and slobber all over each other over movies that Corn Belt types like myself have never seen, and will never see.

This is an exclusive gathering of rich people with big hair who like to whine and complain about how rotten the country that made them so rich and glamorous and superior really is.

They view it as an opportunity to make rubes like us aware of all kinds of problems.

The last movie I paid actual money to see was “Forrest Gump,” which was released 25 years ago. So, if you do the math, it has been a quarter of a century since I saw an actual movie, which no doubt excludes me from the award show target audience.

The only interesting part for me was waiting for the next obscenity-laced kick in the pants, as these vacuous Hollywood boobs took the opportunity to show us their great compassion and vast knowledge of politics and foreign affairs.

(I will say that if you’re only going to see one movie in a quarter century, “Forrest Gump” was a pretty good movie to see. It was swell. The star, Tom Hanks, reportedly shares the Hollywood belief that anyone who voted for Donald Trump is stupid and hopeless, but he’s smart enough to keep it under his hat. He has the brains not to lead the parade of Hollywood Trump haters.)

So anyway, despite a warning from host Ricky Gervais that nobody is interested in their loopy political beliefs, the beautiful people nevertheless gave the rest of us the dickens for electing a president they loathe with theatrical gush and histrionics. One award recipient/foreign policy expert predicted that we are “on the brink of war” with Iran, thanks to the evil Trump. And they fretted, of course, over climate change, striking a major blow by eating a cow-emissions-free vegan dinner. (I wonder if they’ve heard that vegetables scream when you pick them.)

They were in fine form, using lots of filthy language – during family viewing hours, no less – that had to be bleeped out as they lamented the country many of the rest of us like just fine.

Who on earth would want to go see a movie put together by awful people like these?

I don’t know about you, but I’m good for another 25 years without seeing a movie.

THAT SAID: I’m not like the beautiful people above (duh) complaining about major aspects of life in America. But there are some minor irritants that come to mind. Stuff that we tend to notice more at this time of year when we’re stuck inside and can’t escape to the woods, and which wouldn’t take too much ding-dong effort to fix.

Some that come to mind:

People on TV who insist on all talking at the same time. The more interesting the subject is, the more frustrating it is when everyone talks at once.

Pundits/hosts who insist on asking long, detailed questions with multiple examples baked in, that go on so long that nobody can remember what the first part of the question was. (Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough are the absolute worst, and should be sentenced to diagram their sentences.)

Guys who walk around naked in the locker room at exercise, like they’ve got a blue-ribbon entry in the county fair.

Cell phone rings built into advertisements to get your attention. A pox upon them.

The “LIMU EMU” ads on TV. Lord, have mercy.

Selfish imbeciles who block traffic waiting for a great parking space at Walmart. I’ve mentioned this before, but they endure, like bed bugs. Get the tar and feathers.

Those white plastic sleeves that soda crackers come in, that fight you every inch of the way.

Telemarketers. Keel hauling is too good for them.

Tailgaters.

Hollywood award shows.

Dave Simpson began his journalism career at the Laramie Boomerang in
1973. He has worked as a reporter, editor, publisher and columnist at
newspapers in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska. He lives in
Cheyenne.

Historian publishes book about Nimitz visit to Cody

in Community/military/arts and culture
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A Cody historian has turned his attention to a visit to the area by a famous World War II naval officer.

Bob Richard’s newest book documents a visit to the Cody area by Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz and several other military leaders in 1946.

The book consists largely of photos taken by Richard’s father Jack Richard, a secretary to U.S. Sen. E.V. Robertson, who represented Wyoming at the time.

Nimitz played a major role in WWII, commanding the Pacific fleet and accepting the surrender of Japanese forces in 1945. 

Robertson invited Nimitz and others to Wyoming after the war and Richard accompanied the group as it traveled from Cheyenne to Jackson, Yellowstone National Park and Cody.

The resulting photographs, Jack Richard’s first color photos, are contained in the book “Fleet Admiral Nimitz and Naval War Heroes’ Historic Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park Visit.”

“They fished, they swam in (Yellowstone Lake), then they boarded an old yellow bus and they came to Cody, stopping at our ranch on Rattlesnake Creek,” Bob Richard said. “At the age of 9, Adm. Nimitz patted me on the back and said ‘I hope someday that you’re an officer like your dad and his brother Bob.’”

Richard has published a number of books focusing on the Cody and Yellowstone areas. His first, “Yellowstone Country,” also features the photography of his father.

Other books by Richard serve as visual guides of the Yellowstone area.

“Everybody continues to buy them and they give them to their guests,” he said. “When they want to get (the guests) out of the house for the day, they give them the book on the North Fork and say ‘Go find all the rock formations.’”

Richard is himself an accomplished photographer. One of his shots, showing two bears near a sign that reads “Leaving Yellowstone National Park,” is a picture traditionally given as a gift to Yellowstone employees as they retire.

Richard said he has sold more than 600 copies of the photograph, which he took decades ago.

Something different for the New Year — a mac&cheese festival

in Travel/arts and culture
Mac&Cheese Festival
The team from HQ Southern Barbecue in Casper serves up a sampling of macaroni and cheese as part of the 2018 “Noon Year’s Mac&Cheese Fest” in Casper. (Courtesy photo)
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By Cowboy State Daily

A New Year’s celebration for those who love macaroni and cheese and may not be able to stay awake until midnight is on tap in Casper on Dec. 31.

The “Noon Year’s Mac&Cheese Festival” will mark the arrival of the new year 12 hours early in events to run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31 at a civic auditorium known as “The Lyric” in downtown Casper.

The festival, in its third year, features macaroni and cheese samples from restaurants across Casper, said Julie Schmitt, marketing manager for Casper’s David Street Station, an outdoor events facility across the street from The Lyric.

“It kind of stemmed from the idea we are a family friendly facility,” she said. “We wanted to crate something fun for families to go to and we wanted to host a fun countdown event. And what draws people more than food?”

Kustom Koncepts in Casper created these trophies for the winners of the 2018 “Non Year’s Mac&Cheese Fest.” Trophies and bragging rights are on the line again on Dec. 31 as the annual celebration takes place in Casper. (Courtesy photo)
Kustom Koncepts in Casper created these trophies for the winners of the 2018 “Non Year’s Mac&Cheese Fest.” Trophies and bragging rights are on the line again on Dec. 31 as the annual celebration takes place in Casper. (Courtesy photo)

Free samples of the macaroni and cheese will be given away, with larger servings available for purchase.

The countdown to noon will begin at 11:59 a.m. and the winning “People’s Choice” and “Kids’ Choice” macaroni and cheese chefs will be announced at 12:45 p.m., Schmitt said.

The winners will earn a special trophy created by Kustom Koncepts, along with bragging rights.

“So the … winners will go home with a trophy and the glory of being the top mac and cheese people in town,” she said.

In the past, up to 1,000 people have attended the event, braving sometimes inclement weather to get to The Lyric, Schmitt said.

“Wyoming people are hearty people,” she said.

For more information, visit David Street Station’s website.

Merry Christmas, From Santa

in arts and culture
Merry Christmas
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Santa has made a list and checked it twice.

Cowboy State Daily caught up with the big man at JAX in Cheyenne as he visited with area children to find out who was naughty and nice.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Cowboy State Daily.

Wyoming on the silver screen: A film professor’s Top 5 list

in arts and culture
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By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

Not many movies are shot in Wyoming, but a handful of great films are set in the state.

Here’s a top five “Wyoming in movies” list compiled by Central Wyoming College Film Professor Jeremy Nielsen, who worked in film production for years before settling down with his wife and kids to teach cinema in Riverton.

The movies are listed in alphabetical order, because each stands equally on its own merit, Nielsen explained.

“Brokeback Mountain”

Set in 1963, “Brokeback Mountain” is the story of two ranch hands, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, who experience love while working as shepherds on a fictional mountain in Wyoming.  

“These characters are literal cowboys and spend a summer alone together on the mountain and tending the herd — literally living off the land,” Nielsen explained. “There’s a certain American machismo associated with that type of work and that icon. Exploring that in this story, which to most people is not macho, is an interesting dichotomy.”

The movie details a homosexual affair at a time when the world was less receptive to non-traditional lifestyles. Even though it debuted in 2005, audiences greeted it with mixed reactions, especially in traditionally conservative Wyoming. 

“Despite the differences you have with the characters, you can find a lot of similarities in their experiences — heartbreak and the sadness of love not working out,” Nielsen said.

“Hateful 8”

Directed by Quentin Tarantino, “Hateful 8” stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern as eight strangers who seek refuge from a blizzard at a Wyoming stagecoach stop.

True to its name, Nielsen said by the end of the movie, the viewer isn’t really compelled to like any one of the eight.

“That dislike of the main characters — it’s very post-modern in a way that’s very in style nowadays,” he said. “You find yourself laughing at things that are very horrible. That’s also very in style, right now.”

Like many Tarantino films, the movie highlights racism, violence and apathy in a brash motif of humanity’s worst traits. Shot mostly in Colorado, the movie’s biggest tie to Wyoming might be the fur coat worn by Kurt Russel’s character, Nielsen said. The coat was made by Merlin’s Hide Out in Thermopolis.

“It’s unique in that Tarantino is trying to keep the Western genre alive with a couple films so far,” Nielsen said. “It’s decisively a Western film, but clearly repackaged in a whole new light like (Tarantino) does.”

“Red Rock West”

“Red Rock West” is a neo-noir film set in a small Wyoming town, starring Nicholas Cage and Dennis Hopper.

“Noir films were famous for generally four things: stories about society’s underbelly, a narrator, high-contrast lighting and featuring a femme fatale,” Nielsen said. “’Red Rock West’ has all of those.”

Nicholas Cage is mistaken for hit man as he passes through the town of Red Rock, and though Cage takes the money for an assignment, he has a change of heart when it comes time to pull the trigger.

“When (Cage) rolls into the town, the film features these gigantic, panoramic shots reminiscent of old Westerns,” Nielsen said. “Also, I find it interesting that most noir films are set in cities — areas full of people where the society’s dark side can be easily exposed. But, here you see it in a rural setting, which I think sets this film apart.”

“Shane” 

Starring Alan Ladd as a gunslinger looking for a quiet place to settle down, “Shane” paints Wyoming in all the Technicolor beauty 1953 had to offer.

“It’s the prototypical Western story of a hard-on-their-luck family in the Rocky Mountains being terrorized by a band of ne’er-do-wells,” Nielsen said. “It’s got the famous ending of the hero has saved everyone, but he’s been injured, and he knows he has to leave.”

The movie was shot in Wyoming near the Grand Tetons and is listed third in the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Western movies of all time.

“To me, it’s this kind of clash between the wild and civilization,” Nielsen said. “That’s kind of the story of Wyoming.”

“Unforgiven”

Diving in the opposite direction of the prototypical Western, “Unforgiven” stars Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman as gunslingers reluctantly taking one last job to get vengeance for a group of prostitutes.

“It’s another example of the post-modernist Western and exemplifies the anti-hero,” Nielsen said.

Filmed in 1992, the movie took the cinema world by storm and won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It ranks fourth on AFI’s Top Top 10 Western movies of all time and was shot mostly in Canada.

“Wyoming on paper is oftentimes dismissed, but like the Western genre, it can defy those odds and still be successful,” Nielsen said, explaining “Unforgiven” was originally overlooked for being made long after Westerns were considered dead. “If a movie is this good, it doesn’t matter genre it falls into.”

Cody man produces, hosts nightly NFR television show

in Community/arts and culture
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A Wyoming resident is helping rodeo fans all over the country keep track of what is happening at the National Finals Rodeo this week in Las Vegas.

Cody resident Dan Miller is the master of ceremonies for “National Finals Tonight,” a nightly recap television show on each day’s rodeo action that is broadcast on RFD Television, along with its sister channel, the Cowboy Channel.

Miller also produces the show, which is broadcast from the Orleans Hotel, and appears nightly with his co-hosts, rodeo champions Donnie Gay and Joe Beaver.

Miller, a professional musician who performs nightly in Cody every summer, caught the attention of rodeo fans with his Mesquite Rodeo series on the Nashville Network and ESPN.

The NFR television show helps keep rodeo fans informed about the action at each day’s performance and gives them a chance to hear from the competitors themselves, Miller said.

“This show is a perfect show for a rodeo fan,” he said. “I compare it to going to the Super Bowl and then afterwards going into a bar and the players come in and tell you about the game and what happened. It has that kind of intimacy for us.”

As producer, Miller is in charge of a substantial crew on the show.

“This show takes a lot of work and we have a great team assembled that makes that happen,” he said. “We’re shooting four cameras, I have two editors in the back room that work with me. We have instant replay guys. It is a huge production staff. (Orleans Hotel owner) Boyd Gaming pulls out all the stops, really, to make this show happen.”

Miller said he particularly enjoys the opportunity to showcase Wyoming cowboys and the state’s “Team Wyoming” rodeo team.

“I produce the show and so I can kind of lean toward Wyoming,” he said. “This is the perfect marriage for Wyoming cowboys and rodeo fans.”

Hillsdale’s Brody Cress in it to win it at NFR, but always supporting Wyoming

in arts and culture
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Brody Cress of Hillsdale, Wyoming is in it to win it at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas this week.

The Team Wyoming Saddle Bronc rider currently leads the aggregate standings. But the big stage doesn’t stop him from supporting Wyoming kids.

On Sunday he was part of a contingent of NFR cowboys and cowgirls that had lunch at Southpoint Hotel sharing activities with more than 20 kids battling cancer as well as other life-threatening illnesses.

The ‘Golden Circle of Champions’ group attended the fourth-round performance Sunday night in Las Vegas and Cress tied a gold scarf to his vest showing support for the children he’d spent time with earlier in the day.

The Hillsdale, Wyoming saddle bronc rider is having a great finals with more than $50,000 banked, placing in every round, but he says meeting the golden circle children put into perspective what really matters in life

Wyoming Suffrage to be commemorated through music

in arts and culture
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has commissioned an original work from rising American composer Stephanie Ann Boyd to celebrate the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming and the 100th anniversary of suffrage in the United States.

One hundred fifty years ago, Wyoming led the nation in women’s suffrage by giving women the right to vote with the passage of the Wyoming Suffrage Act of 1869.

WSO Executive Director Rachel Bailey led the search for just the right composer to capture the essence of the historic event. It was at the suggestion of Music Director Christopher Dragon that the WSO reached out to Boyd. 

“Her music is very poetic and she also deals with women’s themes, which really fit into what we were doing,” said Bailey. “The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra will debut this commissioned pieceon April 18. It will be a very exciting day for us and Wyoming as a whole as they celebrate thisreally historic anniversary.”

Visiting Wyoming for the first time Dec. 6-9, Boyd gathered inspiration for her forthcoming musical composition to celebrate the moment in the Cowboy State’s history. 

“Wyoming, of course, put through women’s suffrage about 50 years before everybody else, and so we’re taking the inspiration of that, and the stories of the women that were instrumental in that, and writing a piece about them, but also writing essentially a 25-minute minute love letter to Wyoming.” Boyd said.

A first draft of the composition should be ready by the end of this year. 

“I usually compose pretty fast, so usually I work about a month on a piece like this, but again that’s like a seven-hour a day sort of thing,” Boyd said. “I call myself a melodist because melody is the most important thing to me, but audiences will find that my work is very emotional and very exciting to listen to.”

Boyd expressed her gratitude at being a part of the commemoration of suffrage through performing arts.

“It’s an incredible honor,” she said. “I know that Christopher Dragon has admired my music for some time but being able to write for an orchestra, and an orchestra like this, is really a special and beautiful opportunity for me and I’m pleased that I get to help tell this story of Wyoming.”

The performance will be in Casper’s John F. Welsh Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now, and those interested in attending are advised to buy tickets early, since a sellout is expected.

Tickets can be purchased at the WSO website.

Casper photographer named PRCA Photographer of the Year

in News/Agriculture/arts and culture
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By Mike McCrimmon

A Casper photographer has been named the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association photographer of the year for a third time.

Dan Hubbell, owner of Hubbell Rodeo Photos, was named the winner of the award during ceremonies at the PRCA Awards Banquet in Las Vegas on Dec. 4.

Hubbell first won the award in 2000, its inaugural year, and again in 2018.

Hubbell’s rodeo photos today are known throughout the world, but he admitted that in his early days, he had a lot to learn.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “A guy (would be) riding a bucking horse and I’d just pull the trigger. I didn’t have any idea about timing or anything.”

Other rodeo photos provided the inspiration that led him to sharpen his skills, he said.

“Going into it after looking at images that you thought had impressed you, you kind of had an idea of what they liked,” he said. “For instance, of the calf roper roping a calf and then he’s stepping off, hanging in that stirrup and that horse is in the ground. You knew a bronc had to be stretched out. It was easier said than done sometimes.”

Helping Hubbell figure out what photos cowboys might like to see is Hubbell’s wife Linda, who runs the photography business.

“I enjoy meeting the contestants, talking to contestants, seeing what they like,” Linda said. “They tell me what kind of pictures they like, what they don’t like and I pass it on to him.”

The Hubbells are now taking pictures of rodeo cowboys whose parents were photographed competing in rodeos in past years, Linda said.

“You see the guys who he took pictures of and you start to see the kids come along,” she said. “And they think that’s pretty neat. They’re like ‘My dad had Hubbell photos on the wall and now I finally get a Hubbell photo.”

Hubbell’s photos are also popular with rodeo competitors who like to see shots of their past performances, she added.

“You have world champions who never bought a picture, they went to the (National Finals Rodeo” five or six times and never bought a picture,” she said. “Now all of a sudden, they’re at the end of their career and those pictures mean something.”

“You’ll have a buckle or a trophy here and there and a saddle, but the images, you can say ‘That’s the way I rode right there,’” Dan said.

Hubbell believes his interest in photography might have stemmed from his mother.

“Mom took pictures, a lot of them,” he said. “So that might be where it really started.”

West brings opera rehearsal to Cody High School

in arts and culture
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Music students at Cody High School got a glimpse into the world of professional music in November when Kanye West brought the cast of his new opera to Cody for rehearsal.

West’s opera, “Nebuchadnezzar,” was performed Nov. 24 at the Hollywood Bowl after rehearsals by dancers and musicians at Cody High School on Nov. 21.

“They had about 50-plus dancers in there, plus over 100 in the choir and then they had the soloists,” said Wade French, Cody High School’s band teacher. “They were just writing the opera as they were performing it, as they were rehearsing it.”

West, who this year bought a ranch near Cody and has moved the headquarters for his clothing and shoe business to the city, contacted the high school when he needed rehearsal space, French said.

One of French’s students who got the chance to play saxophone with West’s group said the experience has convinced her to pursue music in her future.

“They know what it’s all about,” said senior Kate Beardall. “They know what the music industry is about. And they really just opened my eyes to what I want to do.”

The opera, according to a news release, tells the story of an ancient Babylonian king and his “transition from wicked, imperious, self-declared ruler to a true believer who finds salvation in his faith.”

French said the experience of watching professional musicians practice and put their own spin on the material was interesting.

“It was the music that was very impressive,” he said. “We got to see that first-hand. We got to see those artists and those musicians creating it and really just tweaking it. Making it their own.”

Wandering Weavers works to keep weaving alive

in arts and culture
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A group of women in northwestern Wyoming are working to keep the art of weaving alive.

Members of The Wandering Weavers work with hand-operated looms to create beautiful works of textile art.

Recently, the group took part in a workshop led by Carolyn Wostenberg, a master weaver from Worland.

Wostenberg said she began weaving after growing tired of other forms of fabric art such as knitting, quilting and sewing.

“And so once I got started in weaving, it was just something that there’s always new things to learn,” she said.

Wostenberg said she enjoys teaching weaving because it is constantly evolving.

“With the technology that’s there, it’s just amazing how much they’ve incorporated that,” she said. “It isn’t just an ancient craft.”

The workshop was held at Cody’s By Western Hands, a non-profit  organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of western design.

Kristin Fong, director of By Western Hands, said it made sense for the group to host the workshop because of its dedication to preserving traditional crafts.

“Part of that includes weaving, but it also includes furniture design, saddle making, beadwork,” she said. “I think a wider net can be cast to include a wider variety of craft.”

“Wyoming through The Lens” Facebook group displays Wyoming’s glory

in Community/arts and culture
Wyoming Through the Lens
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Ever since Lorri Lang came to northeast Wyoming more than 30 years ago, she’s been in awe of the state’s natural beauty. 

There are the obvious choices to check out beautiful scenery, like heading to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park or trekking to Devil’s Tower. While Lang loves those sites, she also wanted people to understand how absolutely gorgeous other areas of the state are. 

“My family lives here up near the Big Horns, so we travel a lot in that area,” Lang said. “But I haven’t been able to travel the rest of the state as much. So this group was a chance for me and other people to get a different glimpse of Wyoming.” 

Around five years ago, Lang was inspired by a Facebook page she followed, “Nebraska through the Lens,” to create a similar page. As a Nebraska native, she loved seeing photographers from all over the state, whether amateur or professional, take images that captured what life was like in her home state. 

She thought a similar page focusing on Wyoming would provide a great chance to show current and former Wyoming residents, people who had come through the state to vacation and people who love gorgeous photography, a chance to see a unique side of the state. 

She didn’t think it would be a big group. Maybe some friends would join it. They could even possibly get some of their friends added to it. 

Quickly, Lang saw that she had more member requests than she could have ever expected. More and more people wanted to check out “Wyoming through The Lens.” 

Since its inception, the group has garnered more than 111,000 members, trailing not too far behind the Nebraska page that inspired it, which boasts around 188,000 users. 

“I think people have this idea of Wyoming that’s centered around coal and oil,” Lang said. “But there is so much more to it than that. I love Wyoming and I think this page is important because they can see what it’s really like.”

The group is technically private, requiring a Facebook user to answer a few questions (such as why they want to join) to gain entry. Being a Wyoming resident (either current or former) isn’t a requirement, because Lang hopes people all over the country will come to the group to see the glory of Wyoming. 

The cover photo of “Wyoming through The Lens” features a herd of bison lightly covered in snow. It has generated around 1,000 likes or reactions, three dozen comments and more than 60 shares. All of the comments praise the image for how perfectly it defines Wyoming, with some people even inquiring on how to purchase the photo. 

The next post a member will see when scrolling through the page is arguably its most important: the rules. These include staying drama-free, telling members to not use the page to sell photography equipment, letting members know that all photos submitted should be taken in Wyoming and a number of other restrictions. Mainly, Lang reiterates that people in the group should be kind to each other and that political or religious intolerance won’t be tolerated. 

Since the group’s inception, Lang discovered that running a popular Facebook page will show people not getting along. The political posts and comments have become more and more frequent, causing some stress for Lang and even other members. She’s not alone in running the page anymore, though, bringing on another administrator and a few moderators a couple years into the page’s life. 

“At first, there weren’t a lot of political posts,” she said. “But in the last few years, they really gained traction. I don’t like when name-calling occurs, and it definitely has happened.” 

She cited examples such as photos of the Trump family plane landing in Cheyenne and images of dead animals from hunting expeditions as pictures that brought in numerous political comments. But sometimes, people just bring up politics when a photo has nothing to do with anything in the political realm. 

Sometimes comments on posts get turned off if members break the rules, such as a man who posted an image of his living room, trying to subtly show off his custom-made log furniture. One of the moderators called him out, saying “You can’t advertise your business here, even though you gave it a shot of disguising it.” 

Mostly though, people show off just glimpses of their lives. From a woman showing that she was sweeping snow off of her porch in a pair of shorts to a man taking a picture of his Christmas light display. And these are the people who keep Lang running the page. 

Even if the political comments can be a headache, Lang will run “Wyoming through The Lens” as long as people keep wanting to see Wyoming photography. 

“I just want people to get along and not nitpick each other,” she said. “This page is totally worth it to me because I love Wyoming and so many other people do too.”

Wyoming rodeo stock company named PRCA’s top stock contractor

in Community/Agriculture/arts and culture
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A rodeo stock company based near Riverton has been recognized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for providing consistently high quality bucking stock.

Powder River Rodeo recently won the PRCA’s Polaris Ranger Remuda Awards.

“It’s our ninth time for being nominated for stock contractor of the year,” said Lori Franzen, who founded the business with her husband Hank 35 years ago. “Which to me is one of the nicest honors you can get because you’re going against about 90 other contractors across the nation and to have the people vote you as one of the top five contractors is a huge honor.”

Powder River Rodeo has grown into a family operation from a two-person company.

“It was just us working from the beginning,” Franzen said. “We’d go out and round up pastures and haul in the cattle and the horses and the livestock to the rodeo (with) me timing and helping secretary and Hank running all ends of it. It’s just come to a culmination of now it is a huge family operation. We’re very proud of the fact that after 35 years, we have what we have.”

Powder River Rodeo is taking nine bucking horses and five bulls to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in December.

Buffalo Bill Center exhibition celebrates Wyoming women

in Community/arts and culture
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An exhibition designed to celebrate the women in Wyoming and the barriers they break will be on display at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West for the several months.

The “Women in Wyoming” exhibit, timed to coincide with the anniversary of women winning the right to vote in both Wyoming and the United States, features photographs by exhibit creator Lindsay Linton Buk, a noted portrait photographer.

The exhibit features the photographs of Buk, originally a Powell resident who now has a studio in Jackson and worked for a time in New York.

The exhibit is a little different from traditional displays, said Rebecca West, head of the Plains Indian Museum and director of curatorial education and museum services at the Buffalo Bill Center.

“When we think of arts, photography exhibitions, a lot of time it provides an escape,” West said. “this one is somewhere between an escape and a challenge. When you look at all the women in here, what they’re doing is they’re taking on these challenges and trying to fix things, trying to find solutions.”

Women visiting the exhibition will also have an opportunity to tell their own stories through special “leave a message” telephones at the exhibit or by visiting Buk’s website, West said.

The exhibition opened this year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in Wyoming and will remain up into 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage nationally, said Karen McWhorter, the Scarlett curator of Western art for the Whitney Museum of Western Art.

“So it was critical that we had a longer tenure of this exhibition,” said McWhorter, who worked with West and Buk to design the display.

The exhibit may change how people view Wyoming, West said.

“We’re the Cowboy State and this exhibition shows we’re a lot deeper than just being known as the Cowboy State,” she said.

Midwest rancher recognized for years of rodeo

in Community/Agriculture/arts and culture
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A Midwest rancher and longtime rodeo cowboy has been inducted into the Rodeo Historical Society’s Hall of Fame.

Frank Shepperson, who capped his years in the rodeo with a world championship steer wrestling title in 1975, was inducted in ceremonies held Nov. 8 and 9 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Shepperson said he got involved in the rodeo while working on his family’s ranch.

“When you live on a ranch and you break horses for a living and you’re trying to get a little extra money, it just is natural,” he said. “My father also rodeoed.”

In his school years, Shepperson claimed the national high school title for bronc riding and went on to be a member of the University of Wyoming rodeo team in 1961, when the team won the national college championship.

Shepperson said it was his mother who encouraged him to compete in as many rodeo events as possible.

“When I was a freshman in high school, I filled out my (rodeo) entry form and showed it to my mother,” he said. “The high school rodeo was in Gillette, 90 miles away. She said ‘If we’re driving 90 miles for a damn rodeo, you better get in the bullriding, too.’ That’s the only thing I hadn’t entered.”

Shepperson said he was flattered to have been selected for induction into the Hall of Fame.

“I’m humbled and honored to join a lot of my friends and family and heroes that are already in this,” he said.

Art important to the world, says NEA chair

in News/Community/arts and culture
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Making art a part of people’s daily lives is very important to the future, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts said during a visit to Cheyenne.

Mary Anne Carter visited Cheyenne on Friday for the Wyoming Arts Summit, hosted by the Wyoming Arts Council.

During her appearance, Carter said the arts unite people by bringing members of different cultures and political beliefs together.

“What we’re finding more and more is arts are a big part of healing and health and well being,” she said. “So for the future of the nation and the world, making sure arts are integrated into our everyday lives is really important.”

Art is also a good tool for economic development, said Brian Harrington, an artist and member of Laramie’s city council.

Harrington pointed as an example to Laramie’s Mural Project, a space where artists can join forces to create large-scale murals.

“When you see these things start to build community spaces, you see them strengthen communities and provide a space where we can all get together and sort of move on from there,” he said. “We can gather and collaborate and do things we weren’t necessarily anticipating doing before.”

Carter said the arts played a major role in the women’s suffrage movement in Wyoming. To commemorate that fact, the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has commissioned a female composer to write a piece in honor of the 150th anniversary of Wyoming giving women the right to vote.

“I think that just goes to show how critical women are to Wyoming, economic development, the arts, just in general and making sure they are well represented is very important,” said Ryan McConnaughey, president of the orchestra’s executive committee.

Dia de los Muertos at the Wyoming State Museum

in Community/arts and culture
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In Cheyenne, at the Wyoming State Museum families came to celebrate Dia de los Muertos this weekend. There was sugar skull cookie decorating, dancers, music and preparations for the all important ofrenda.

Many parents expressed the importance of connecting their children to the traditions of Mexico and exposing kids to the rich customs of other cultures.

Our Mike McCrimmon was there to capture the sights and sounds of the day. Step inside the event with his video report.

Giant bronze horses created in Cowboy State, headed for Sicily

in Column/arts and culture/Bill Sniffin
Bronze horses
Eagle Bronze Foundry workers are dwarfed by the size of these bronze horses created in Lander by the Italian-American artist Arturo Di Modica. They were recently shipped to Sicily. (Photo credit: Bill Sniffin)
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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

In a state where the cowboy culture of horses is almost a religion, it was fitting that two of the largest horses in the world were created here.

Artist Arturo Di Modica, one of the world’s greatest living sculptors, has been using the Eagle Bronze Foundry in Lander for many of his gigantic works.

The first efforts on this project started 13 years ago. In terms of all the projects undertaken by Eagle Bronze, this one might have set the record for its long time in their shop.

But first a person is impressed by the gigantic size of these horses. They are 26 feet tall. They dwarf the workmen who have been putting the finishing touches to the huge bronze work of art.

It is not certain how the horses will be placed in Di Modica’s native Sicily, but they will sure create a stir when installed.

Monte and Bev Paddleford founded Eagle Bronze in 1985 when Bev wanted to return to her hometown to sculpt and to create a small foundry to cast bronzes made by her late father, artist Bud Boller.

Bev Paddleford, one of the owners and founders of Eagle Bronze, shows the relative size of the horses by standing next to a hoof.
Bev Paddleford, one of the owners and founders of Eagle Bronze, shows the relative size of the horses by standing next to a hoof. (Photo credit: Bill Sniffin)

They formed the business with the vision of being a Christian company. In the next decades it exploded into the largest bronze foundry in the country specializing in huge bronze monuments.

Work from the foundry can be found all over the world. Some of the more famous include the huge black panthers at the Carolina Panthers football stadium in Charlotte, N. C.

The largest bronze monument in Texas was created in Lander – it shows a bronze cattle drive through Pioneer Park in downtown Dallas. It features 40 cows and three cowboys.

The Paddlefords worked with a local committee in Lander to use three of those steers plus a cowboy to create what is called The Bronze Roundup – which might be the largest bronze monument in all of Wyoming. It was the millennium project for the Lander community.

For years, Lander has been known as the City of Bronze because of all the bronze monuments that line the town’s Main Street. Most of this effort was spearheaded by the Paddlefords. The first bronze sculpture on Main Street was by Bev’s father, Bud Boller, sponsored by the local Ambassador’s Club in the 1980s.

In recent years, both Casper and Sheridan have placed tremendous numbers of beautiful bronze statues in their cities. But no small Wyoming town has put as many statues on public display as Lander, although Buffalo and Thermopolis have lots of bronzes, too.

Monte tells their story on their web page: “We decided to move back to our hometown so that we could start a small foundry and for me to pastor a Vineyard Church. I guess the Lord had slightly other plans. Having redesigned the way we build and engineer monuments, we have been told that we are the largest producer of monuments in the world, and can do them quicker than most, keeping the integrity that the artist had originally produced.

“Beverly also started sculpting along the way and is a very gifted and talented artist. Her ability to create softness and life in everything she sculpts is truly a gift from the Lord. Her work has kept our vision of ministry going. I may not be the pastor I thought I was called to be, but I have been able to see the impact Bev’s art has had and been able to use this as a tool to minister to people along the way. God was calling me to ministry, just not how I had seen it!

“Along the way, we added some additional help to our facility. In 1999, our oldest daughter Heather and her husband Matt decided to help run our business. Heather studied accounting in college and is now our Controller. Matt, having studied Structural and Mechanical Engineering in college, is now our Vice President. With the addition of these two, we now have the ability to expand our operations and move in directions we never would have if they were not present.

“We have rebranded Eagle Bronze to move in a direction that has made us more than just a fine art foundry. We have become an art marketing group that can take conception to completion, help our artists find and place projects, and much more. We have become a facility that can do more than just recreate and manufacture art.

“Above all, it has always been about the relationships we have made over the years. It is about our everlasting friendships we have built and hope to continue to build.”

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

Cody, Wyoming Has Plenty of Ghost Stories

in Community/arts and culture
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s no surprise that Cody, with its history rooted deeply in the Wild West, might have some ghost stories.

Several can be found at the historic Irma Hotel, according to hotel co-owner Mike Darby.

“I’ve heard stories that housekeeping (staff members) actually saw the bottom half of a soldier walking through the room and all they saw were his faded blue pants with a gold stripe and a saber,” said Darby, whose family has owned the hotel built by western showman “Buffalo Bill” Cody for 30 years. “And he just journeyed across the room and went out (into the hallway) through the door, which was closed.”

Some ghosts, apparently not satisfied with being seen, make their presence known in other ways, Darby said. He recounted the story of two travel writers who were staying at the hotel and had gone to bed for the night.

“And pretty soon the sink starts going off and on, three or four times, and they’re really worried, so they turn the lights on,” he said. “Somehow they go back to sleep, they wake up in the morning and here their clothes are piled up in a pyramid at the foot of the bed.”

Darby said he regularly hears ghost stories from guests at the Irma.

“I’ll hear about them say, once a week, once every 10 days,” he said. “Somebody will see something, somebody will come in and all their cell phones will go dead, their computer will go dead. And as soon as they walk out the door, everything comes back to life.

Jeannie Cook, a retired Park County historian, also knows plenty of stories about hauntings, such as the one reported at a business inside what was once the furniture store of J.H. Vogel.

“I talked to some of the ladies who worked there and they told me there was a young boy that would appear from time to time,” she said. “Come to find out, (Vogel) had a furniture store and was also the undertaker. They had the coffins. So apparently, this little boy must somehow be connected to that.”

Cook, whose grandfather settled in Cody in the early 1900s, said spirits are also often seen in the yard of what used to be Cody’s Lane-Bradbury Hospital and have been reported in what was once a cemetery for the community.

The bodies from the cemetery were moved to another location in the 1960s, but some may have been missed.

“They probably didn’t get all the bodies because in the early days, when they buried somebody, they may have only had a wooden cross or something and it just went away,” she said.

Interest in such paranormal sightings appears to be growing as people hear more stories about them, Cook said.

“I think in modern times, people are beginning to recognize there really is something with paranormal activity,” she said. “And I think there’s really been a lot of it in this town.”

Darby agreed.

“Different things have happened that weren’t explainable,” he said. “People have passed away and in their rooms I’d find things, I’d hear things. It’s not that I believe, I was shown.”

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Virginian Hotel Owner Says Hotel is Haunted But By Friendly Ghosts

in Community/arts and culture
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By Mike McCrimmon, Cowboy State Daily

The historic Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow probably is probably visited by ghosts, according to its owner.

Vernon Scott, who has been involved with the Virginian throughout his life, said although he has never seen a spirit in the hotel, he is pretty sure they do exist.

“I think there’s spirits, honestly, here,” he said. “It’s good spirits, though.”

Since the hotel was built in 1911, it has hosted a number of famous visitors, including Teddy Roosevelt, Western artist Charlie Russell, football legend John Madden and author Owen Wister. The hotel took its name from Wister’s novel “The Virginian.”

It has also seen several tragedies, such as the death of a woman who jumped from the window of one of the hotel’s upper floors, as well as the death of a county sheriff, Scott said.

Scott said people who believe they hear spectral noises may just be hearing the sounds of an old building.

“I think what people hear are the steam pipes rattling the winter time,” he said.

However, he said many people have told stories of seeing strange things in the old hotel.

“My wife has a picture on her telephone,” he said. “At the bar, there’s an orb sitting there on a barstool. Strangest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Then there is the bed in one room that shows signs of being used just minutes after it is made.

“You can make it right now and right after that, butt cheeks (imprints will appear) in there like somebody sat down,” he said.

Another guest reported that when she stayed in the suite named after Wister, she often would see a woman dressed in a white gown.

“There’s just different things like that,” Scott said.

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Meet the master: Leatherworker James Jackson wins nations highest honor in his craft

in Community/arts and culture
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By Cowboy State Daily

Enjoy this amazing conversation with master leatherworker and National Endowment for the Arts 2019 National Heritage Fellowship awardee James Jackson.

This year Jackson won the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts after being nominated by Josh Chrysler, folklorist for the Wyoming Arts Council.

“Jim being awarded a National Heritage Fellowship is truly a testament to the caliber of his work. The NEA only gives these fellowships to the best of the best, and Jim belongs in that group,” said Chrysler of Jackson’s work. “It’s difficult to understate both how prestigious an award this is, and how strongly Jackson deserves it,  for his excellence in an art form that is in many ways, highly representative of Wyoming and our western, ranching culture.”

Today, James Jackson works and demonstrates his craft from his studio at the Bradford Brinton Museum in Sheridan.

Jackson is deeply rooted in the leather carving tradition, having grown up primarily in Sheridan, which is known worldwide for its distinctive ‘Sheridan Style’ of leather tooling.

“A lot of the way I lay out patterns and so forth is quite a bit different from a lot of people in my trade that are carvers,” Jackson said of his unique style. “This carving has influenced a whole industry in Japan. You can go to Kyoto or Tokyo or any of those towns and you can see women carrying western style purses.” 

Jackson learned the art form from his father, the saddlemaker Edward Jackson, and other Sheridan leather carvers including Don King, Bill Gardner, and Ernie Ernst. Consistent with Sheridan Style, Jackson carves a tight pattern, with a lot of small flowers wrapped in nesting circles of swirling leaves. At the same time, Jackson develops his own patterns, and also experiments with form, combining his painting and leatherwork. 

“People from all around the country will look at my work and say, ‘that’s Sheridan-style carving'”, Jackson said. “That influence that I’ve had comes through me and then it gets out there.”

Jackson, a formally trained artist with an MFA from the University of Wyoming, is the fourth Wyoming artist to win the prestigious NEA award.

Jackson joins friend and mentor Don King, Western saddlemaker, 1991; along with Eva McAdams, Shoshone crafts and beadwork, 1996; and Martin Goicoechea, Basque bertsolari poetry, 2003. 

Jackson, along with eight other recipients from across the nation, was honored in Washington, DC in September.

Refurbished movie theater first step to building arts community

in News/Community/arts and culture
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Refurbishing a movie theater in Cheyenne so it can serve as a venue to world-class concerts is a first step in building a thriving arts community in Wyoming, according to a Cheyenne couple.

Jon and Renee Jelinek founded the “The Alternative Arts Project”, a non-profit organization, which acquired the Lincoln Theatre in Cheyenne several years ago with the intention of making it into a music venue.

Renee Jelinek said once the theater is operating again as a music venue, it will help spur development of a larger arts community in Wyoming.

“Having a real music venue here that can be that ground zero for arts and building the arts in Wyoming is going to be a real catalyst for changing that here,” she said.

The Jelineks are holding an “Arts for Arts” auction fundraiser on Oct. 12 to help raise money for work on the Lincoln, which is expected to be open for performances next year.

Jon Jelinek said the arts for auction, donated by local artists, will be displayed in an “immersive” way.

“It’s going to be a fully immersive art auction,” he said. “Meaning that we’re going to have several pieces paired with a spirit, paired with music so that people can get a full experience of the art that they’re looking at.”

Once in operation, the Lincoln will provide a setting for the kind concert experience that crosses all human boundaries, Jon Jelinek said.

“You think about music and going to concerts,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what walk of life you come from, your status, your political party, your race. Everybody’s there to enjoy the same experience and gets to have the same experience. And even for that couple of hours, everybody gets along and has a great experience.”

Bringing back Wyoming’s grand Cowboy Carousel

in News/Community/Tourism/arts and culture
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Arnette Tiller of Buffalo, Wyoming is leading the charge to restore the world’s only cowboy and indian carousel and return it to operation in downtown Buffalo.

The Buffalo Carousel Project is working to repaint, restore and reopen the carousel for visitors and the community members alike.

Dubbed the Cowboy Carousel, all its horses were crafted and painted by local artists. The carousel itself originally ran in Ocean City, New Jersey starting in the 1920s at Gillian’s Play Park.

Kanye holds ‘Sunday Service’ in Cody

in News/arts and culture
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One of Cody’s newest residents introduced himself to the community on Sunday with a “Sunday Service” attended by thousands.

Kanye West, who reportedly purchased the Monster Lake Ranch just south of Cody earlier this month, staged his “Sunday Service” at the Powwow Garden at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

For the service, West flew 80 gospel singers to Cody, where they sang Christian praise songs and gospel hymns.

West has held his the “Sunday Service” events around the country, but they are generally not open to the public. 

However, the public could attend Sunday’s event. It was announced Friday on social media and people began lining up for the service on Saturday night.

Brian Kekauoha and two of his fellow students from Brigham Young University drove for eight hours from Provo, Utah, for the event, arriving in Cody at 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

Hannah Brooks of Thermopolis did not have to travel as far, but made sure she was up early for the service in any case.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I saw it on the Internet (Saturday) night and I’m like ‘I’m going to bed early so I can get up early and drive to Cody.’”

The size of Sunday’s crowd for the event was estimated at 3,500.

Top singer-songwriters to compete in Ten Sleep

in Travel/Tourism/arts and culture
2019 Singer-Songwriter Laramie Qualifying Round at the Alibi. (courtesy: Wyoming Singer-Songwriter Competition)
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Fans of Wyoming music will want to be in Ten Sleep this weekend for the state’s second annual Singer-Songwriter Competition.

The contest will see some of the state’s top singer-songwriters, as selected in competitions in 10 communities around Wyoming, compete for a chance to have one of their songs professionally recorded.

“Top to bottom, it will be great music,” said Jon Gardzelewski, founder of Wyoming Singer-Songwriters and an organizer of the competition. “It’s a great opportunity to hear and meet new people. Some of the best people writing and recording songs will be there from every corner of the state.”

Wyoming Singer-Songwriters for five years sponsored a Laramie competition before opening it up for artists from around the state in 2018.

The first year’s competition saw 75 musicians from around the state take part. This year, the number grew to 85, 37 of whom advanced from the preliminary rounds to the semi-finals.

“The first year, I twisted the arms of everybody I knew and that helped,” Gardzelewski said. “This year, I didn’t do that. I had my hands full with new venues — Rock Springs, Ten Sleep, Gillette — and each of those places had a wealth of new people who were not aware of the competition last year.”

The field of competitors at the weekend’s event will represent a broad mix of musicians, Garzelewski said.

“We’ve got a good mix of old and young, guys and girls, just a good diversity,” he said. “What people will find is they will hear somebody they just fall in love with and that person may not even make it to the finals, there’s so much good music.”

Judging in the preliminary rounds was handled by the musicians themselves. At this weekend’s contest, musicians performing at the Ten Sleep Brewing Co. will be joined as judges by panels of music professionals.

After four semi-final rounds beginning at 4 p.m. Friday and running through Saturday, eight musicians will advance to the grand finale, to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The champion as determined in voting by the musicians and the judges will receive $500, a headline performing spot at the Beartooth Music Festival in Cody, a performing spot at next year’s What Fest and a chance to record their song in a professional studio.

An additional event at this year’s contest will be a Traditional Song Challenge, where participating musicians will offer their versions of folk or traditional songs.

Tickets for the event cost $15 per day or $30 for the full competition. Those buying the full-access tickets will also receive a four-disk compilation of songs from the 2018 competition.

For more information, visit the Wyoming Singer-Songwriters website at WyomingSinger-Songwriters.com or check out their Facebook page.

Crowds gather for Cheyenne’s second Chey-Fy Comic Expo

in Community/arts and culture
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Several hundred people gathered at Cheyenne’s historic Plains Hotel last weekend to take part in the city’s second “Chey-Fy Comic Expo.”

The event celebrating all things related to pop culture was sponsored by Cheyenne’s Small Business Hub, a group of business owners who meet to share their experience and expertise with others.

Jon Puls, the SBH vice president of events, said the Comic Expo is the group’s main event of the year and is used as a fundraiser.

“We’ve got comics, cosplay, stars, video games, sculptures, artists,” he said. “We’re doing all this with the hopes to create small business grants for the community.

Many people attending last weekend’s event wore their “Cosplay” costumes. People who take part in cosplay dress up as their favorite superhero, video game character, cartoon character or character from literature.

Vendors, meanwhile, filled many of the meeting rooms of the Plains with goods ranging from original artwork and graphic novels to craft items.This year’s Chey-Fy Comic Expo welcomed guests including Jon St. John, the voice behind many popular video game characters, most notably, “Duke Nukem.”

Fans stopping by his table were treated to St. John reciting lines from the game such as “Hail to the king baby!” 

Also making an appearance was veteran voice actor Dameon Clark, of the animated series “Dragon Ball Z.” Clark has also acted in the television shows Castle, Supernatural and Prison Break.

Several authors were also on hand, including Ron Fortier, writer for “Green Hornet,” and the series “Terminator: Burning Earth.” Along with the cosplay and guests, admission to the expo included discussion panels, a lunch with the guests, as well as anime movie screening and a midnight ghost hunt at the nearby Masonic Lodge. 

Catching Up: Michael DeGreve from Cheyenne’s Hitching Post

in Community/arts and culture
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

For 30 years, singer-songwriter Michael DeGreve was a fixture at Cheyenne’s old Hitching Post Inn.

Although the self-described “Hippie from Hollywood Hills” may not have seemed like a logical fit for Cheyenne, Wyoming, the entertainer played to packed houses twice a day, six nights a week, from 1977 through 2007.

DeGreve moved on from the Hitching Post a year after the well-regarded owner of the hotel — Paul Smith — died in 2006. After a two-year stint at a resort in the northern woods of Wisconsin, the singer has made Las Vegas, Nevada, his home for the past seven years. His pace has slowed down a bit (now performing only four to five nights a week), but his love of entertaining has never waned.

“I’ve been blessed to play music every day of my life for the past 50 years,” DeGreve said. “It’s what I love to do.”

Now singing at the Mt. Charleston Lodge in Las Vegas and Jack’s Place in Boulder City, Nevada, DeGreve spoke highly of his time in Cheyenne during a recent performance and reflected on his relationship with Wyoming audiences.

“It was very warm right from the beginning,” DeGreve said. “I didn’t know I was going to perform at The Hitch for 30 years but as time went on and I realized the depth of what this place was and how wonderful the people were, I didn’t want to leave. It was my life.”

He discusses that life often during his show at Mt. Charleston. One weekend night, the singer regaled the crowd with many Cheyenne stories — many elicited much laughter. One story, however, silenced the crowd: the flood of 1985.

“August 1, 1985,” he began. “I had been there for eight years. We had a terrible flood. Once in a 100 year flood.

“I was doing my show. A friend of mine sitting right over there,” he continued, motioning to the right. “It had been a dry summer. It started a little bit after 6 p.m. He said ‘We could sure use this water.’

“By 9 p.m., 12 people were dead. The city was trashed. We had 6 1/2 inches of rain and hail in two hours. Trashed the city.”

The singer paused to wipe a tear from his eye. And paused again. The audience didn’t say a word.

A few moments later, DeGreve transitioned, as all of Cheyenne had to do back then, and told of how then-Gov. Ed Herschler called him two days after the flood and asked him for his help.

DeGreve has some powerful friends in the music industry. His first album had members of The Eagles and Crosby, Stills, and Nash singing background vocals. His ex-wife had married Graham Nash. One friend made time for DeGreve despite a booked touring season.

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“I called my friend Neil Young,” he said. “We re-routed Neil’s tour and he and I did a show four weeks later on a blue moon night at the (Cheyenne Frontier Days) fairgrounds for 10,000 people. It was called the Silver Lining Benefit Concert. Everybody showed up. We raised a lot of money and we raised a lot of spirits.

“Everybody takes care of each other there,” he said of Cheyenne. “It is a very magical place.”

For DeGreve, that magic started and ended at The Hitching Post — a place he thought would be resurrected after the fire that ultimately doomed the establishment in 2010.

“The Hitching Post was such a huge part of my life. For the first two years I was here (in Las Vegas) I thought somebody was going to resurrect it on those grounds.”

DeGreve has been back to Cheyenne one time since the fire to attend a book signing event commemorating the Hitching Post.

“It was pretty emotional. Pretty nostalgic. Got to see a lot of friends. Signed books for hours and did a show,” he said.

What affected him the most, however, was seeing the remains of the hotel he called home for 30 years.

“But to see it physically burned down. Sheesh,” he said. “My mind raced and I just thought of the 10,000 nights playing music and telling stories to my friends in Cheyenne. It broke my heart.”

DeGreve said he would like to come back to Cheyenne and if the right circumstances unfolded, he would consider returning.
Although nothing has presented itself yet, DeGreve did say he expected to be back in Cheyenne soon.

“I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag,” he said grinning. “But I think we’re going to do something back in town soon and I can’t wait.”

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Cheyenne’s Edge Fest Scores Hot Acts, Cool Vibes for Fifth Annual Event

in Community/Food and Beverage/arts and culture
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Cheyenne residents and visitors from all over the region are in for stellar performances, great food and a happening party this Saturday, August 24 as Edge Fest takes over the new Civic Commons Park and Amphitheater on Cheyenne’s West Edge.

Genre-bending/blending singer K.Flay and rock and roller Billy Raffoul take the stage in Cheyenne for what promises to be the biggest show in Edge Fest’s five year history.

Edge Fest essential details:

Who: K. Flay and Billy Raffoul + epic cross-section of food trucks and vendors

When: Saturday, August 24 | Doors open: 5:00pm | Party Ends: 10:00pm

Where: Civic Commons Park located in Cheyenne’s West Edge

What: Edge Fest is a free, all-ages event. No tickets are required.

It’s all about art at Lander’s Riverfest

in Travel/arts and culture
Lander Arts Center RiverFest
Courtesy Lander Arts Center.
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A plethora of art forms, from music to poetry and theater, will be on display in Lander this weekend when the Lander Art Center hosts its annual Riverfest Art and Music Festival.

To be held Saturday in Lander City Park, the event will feature a full day of art exhibits and demonstrations before things wrap up with a performance by Wyoming bluegrass band Ten Cent Stranger.

Sam Rastatter, an official at the Art Center, said the event was started by the center shortly after it was opened.

“The early directors started it after the Art Center got on its feet,” she said. “It’’s grown a lot. It used to be held in the Noble Hotel and it was fairly small compared to what it looks like now. Now, we take over the city park for the day and we typically get around 1,200 people coming through.”

Events at the 11th annual festival begin at 7 a.m. with the “Color Me River Run,” a 5k run sponsored by Child Development Services in which participants will be pelted with colored powder along the route.

At 11 a.m., children attending a theater camp offered the group Communal Pancake will perform a series of sketches and at 2 p.m., a series of spoken word performances, including poetry and prose readings, will begin.

The spoken word pieces will all focus on the Popo Agie watershed, Rastatter said.

“The performers are all from Fremont County and all are very familiar with the Popo Agie,” she said.

Ten Cent Stranger will wrap up the day with a performance beginning at 4 p.m.Throughout the day, some 40 art vendors will show off their original works in vendors’ tents. Demonstrations on arts including glassblowing, pottery and flint knapping — shaping a stone by striking it with another — are also scheduled throughout the day.

Tents offering children’s activities such as art projects will also be open, sponsored by organizations including the Lander Children’s Museum, the Fremont County Library and the Art Center itself.

For more information, visit the Art Center’s website at LanderArtCenter.com.

Brokaw praises patriotism, grit of Heart Mountain internees

in News/Community/arts and culture
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The more than 14,000 people held at the Heart Mountain Internment Camp near Cody showed an amazing ability to support their country despite the fact it imprisoned them, newscaster Tom Brokaw said at the camp last weekend.

Brokaw, the featured guest at the annual Heart Mountain Pilgrimage, praised those incarcerated for their patriotism while held at the camp.

“You were abused and went on with your lives and make continuing contributions to this country,” he said. “You’re here because you know you’re Americans and we all learn from you. And so I say God bless.”

The Heart Mountain camp was one of 10 established across the country to house Americans of Japanese descent during World War II because of concerns they might hold allegiance to their original homeland and pose a threat to the United States.

While in operation from June 1942 to November of 1945, the camp was the third largest city in the state. During the camp’s operation, many friendships were formed, including one between former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson and Norm Mineta, former secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation.Appearing with Simpson during the pilgrimage, Mineta recalled the sadness he felt when his government imprisoned an entire race of people.

“These placards went up,” he said. “Instructions to all those of Japanese ancestry. Aliens and non-aliens. And I was a 10-yar-old kid and I saw that placard. And I said to my brother who was nine years older, I said ‘Al, what’s a non-alien?’ He said ‘That’s you.’ And I said ‘I’m not a non-alien, I’m a citizen!”

For the past eight years, the Heart Mountain Foundation has organized the pilgrimage to the camp as a commemoration to those held there.

Shirley Ann Higuchi, the foundation’s chair, said Wyoming communities have been very supportive of the foundation’s efforts to preserve the memory of the injustice done to the families held at the camp.

“They have come around to really support us and really make us the best that we can be,” she said. “So it’s just an overwhelmingly emotional, touching, in many ways a heartbreaking experience when we try to think back historically on how many people had actually suffered here.”

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Watch artists create their works live at the Brinton Museum’s “Bighorn Rendezvous”

in Travel/arts and culture
Big Horn Rendezvous
1725

Art lovers interested in seeing noted artists at work should head for Big Horn’s Brinton Museum on Saturday for the annual Bighorn Rendezvous.

Fifteen artists will set up outside of the museum for the Rendezvous annual “Quick Draw,” where they will complete paintings or sculptures in front of members of the public over a three-hour period.

“People can come out and watch them work and ask them questions and then wander around the property and see work by different artists,” said Tod Windsor, the museum’s marketing director.

The Quick Draw will run from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The finished works will be offered for sale that afternoon, with part of the money raised going to the artists and part being donated to the museum.

Windsor said about 300 people usually attend the event to watch the artists, who largely come from Wyoming, Montana and Colorado.

Some of the artists involved are Sonja Caywood, Gary Huger, Julie Iris and Randy Stout.

“These are artists we invited to come here,” Windsor said.

The celebration on Saturday will also include the museum’s commemoration of American Indian Heritage Day, featuring dance performances and a prayer celebration by members of the Wyoming’s Arapaho tribe, along with dancers from Montana’s Crow and Cheyenne reservations.

For more information on the Bighorn Rendezvous, visit the Brinton Museum’s website.

Friends, admirers remember Frost on 30th anniversary of his death

in Community/arts and culture
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Friends and admirers of the late bull rider Lane Frost shared their memories this week of Frost’s death in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo arena 30 years ago.

Frost was 25 years old when he died from injuries he suffered in the Frontier Days championship go-round of 1989. 

Dr. Skip Ross, a Cheyenne physician, said physicians and medics on hand at the rodeo could not understand why Frost did not stand up when he fell after dismounting the bull named “Takin’ Care of Business.” The bull had hit him in the back.

“It was an exciting finals day and Lane made a great ride,” he said. “We couldn’t figure out why he didn’t get up right away. The bull was standing on his chaps and kind of had him trapped. And he had one shot at him and hit him the left ribs.”

Ross said the ribs collapsed, tearing an aorta.

“I went in with the ambulance and worked on him for about an hour and a-half,” he said. 

“We really needed a chest cutter to open his chest and we didn’t have that. And you’d have to do that in the first five to 10 minutes to save him. But we’ve made some great changes since then.”

Tuff Hedeman, a longtime rodeo cowboy who frequently partnered with Frost, said he remembered the day of Frost’s death vividly.

“We went a lot of places together and did a lot of things together,” he said. “He was just a magical guy who was gone too soon. This is the 30thy year and it’s still just as fresh today as it was then. I remember every detail of that day. It was the roughest day of my life.”

River Mossberg, preparing to enter high school in Cheyenne this fall, is already a nationally recognized bullrider, having competed in the Junior National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. He said Frost is the bullrider who inspires him the most.

“It’s my dream to have my poster on some little kid’s wall just like I have his on mine,” he said.

Cheyenne Frontier Days: Behind the Chutes

in Community/Tourism/arts and culture
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By Seneca Flowers, special for Cowboy State Daily

You can tell it’s Cheyenne Frontier Days because the heat has finally kicked up to the 90s in Cheyenne. When the July heat starts cooking, Cheyenne Frontier Days gets into gear. Part of the magic can be witnessed by locals and tourists who can step in the arena mud and dirt as part of the Behind the Chutes tour.

The tour features a variety of history and facts narrated by guides as it passes from the Old West Museum through to the animal holding area and emptying out in to the arena near the bucking chutes and chute nine.

Public Relations Committee Volunteer Jessica Crowder is a tour guide for Behind the Chutes and has been so for nearly a decade. She said over the years, she has enjoyed meeting people from around the world.

“We have had people from Europe, South America,” she said. “I can’t think of place we haven’t seen someone from.”

One family took the tour as part of a vacation from their hometown of Bloomfield, Ind. The Holtsclaw family visited Cheyenne as part of a Wyoming and South Dakota sightseeing trip. As a child, Jarrod Holtsclaw would often visit a Labor Day rodeo in Palestine, Ill., near his hometown with his parents and grandparents. The rodeo was not as large as Cheyenne Frontier Days. He said he was impressed by the size of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.

His son, Boone, enjoyed being up close to the livestock.

“My favorite part was looking at the bulls they had,” Boone Holtsclaw said.

Although the tour took people along the path for 45 minutes, it was a much tighter tour than it was in the past, according to Crowder. The tour used to be just one to two tour guides who had to know every detail. But nowadays, newer volunteers get to shadow the veterans and take part in guiding the tourists. This allows them to help out without having to know every part of the script.

“That adaptation really made it a lot of fun,” Crowder said.

Although she has done the tour for nearly a decade, she said she enjoys hearing about the tourists’ experiences and watching them have fun while interacting during the tour.

Thunderbirds appear in the sky over Cheyenne for 66th time

in Community/military/arts and culture
1697

The U.S. Air Force precision flying team the Thunderbirds took to the skies over Cheyenne for the 66th time on Wednesday for its annual demonstration of high-speed formation flying.

The Thunderbirds have appeared at every Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo since 1953, with pilots flying their F-16 Fighting Falcons only feet from each other as they put the aircraft through various aerobatic maneuvers such as loops.

Viewers pack F.E. Warren Air Force Base to watch the show and line up on either side of Interstate 25 near the base to get a good look at the performance.

The Air Force describes the Thunderbird team as combining years of training and experience with an “attitude of excellence.”

Today’s Cowboy Vocabulary word is: Reride

in Community/arts and culture
CSD Cowboy Vocabulary Reride
1694

A cowboy is given a second chance to ride a bull or horse, called a reride, on a new animal if his first ride was affected by equipment failure or if the livestock did not buck sufficiently. 

Used in a sentence: “Cody DeMoss only scored a 53 in his first bullride, but he was given a reride because the bull did not buck well.”

Today’s Cowboy Vocabulary word is: Pickup Men

in Community/arts and culture
1682

Pickup men are two cowboys on horseback who help roughstock riders dismount after their ride and then escort the bull or horse to the exit gate.

Used in a sentence: “The pickup men rode alongside Will’s bull to help him dismount after his 8-second ride.”

Today’s Cowboy Vocabulary word is: Roughstock

in arts and culture
CFD Rodeo vocabulary lesson rough stock
1674

Roughstock is the term used to refer to the events in which cowboys ride bulls or horses (saddle bronc riding or bareback bronc riding). Points are awarded for both the performance of the cowboy and the bull or horse he is riding. Rides last 8 seconds and during that time, the cowboy can hold on with only one hand — if he touches the animal with his other hand, he is disqualified.

Used in a sentence: “I only like to watch the roughstock events at a rodeo.”

Today’s Cowboy Vocabulary word is: Go-Round

in Community/arts and culture
Cowboy Vocabulary Go-Round
1668

A Go-Round is essentially what it sounds like: A round of competition at a rodeo.

Cheyenne Frontier Days features three go-rounds: Two preliminary rounds lasting four days each and one championship round, also called a “short go” because it lasts only one day.

Competitors earn money in preliminary rounds with good performances. The cowboys with the highest earnings for the preliminary go-rounds advance to the championship. The cowboy with the highest earnings for all three go-rounds in his events wins the championship.

Used in a sentence: “Tom did well in the first go-round, but didn’t finish his ride in the second go-round, so he missed out on the short go.”

Fort Carson cavalry keeps bandits on the run at CFD

in Community/arts and culture
1663

The Fort Carson Mounted Colorguard – stationed just outside Colorado Springs, Colorado – is at Cheyenne Frontier Days this week performing reenactments of stage coach robberies and showcasing the important role of the cavalry in the establishment of the American West. 

The active duty Army soldiers represent the 10th Cavalry Division which was the divison of the famed Buffalo Soldiers. Buffalo Soldiers was a name given to the all-African American cavalry regiment by Native American tribes who fought in the Indian Wars.

You can see the Fort Carson Mounted Color Guard all week at the Daddy of ‘Em All.

Hat man: Tips on how to wear a cowboy hat

in Community/arts and culture
1653

For the thousands of visitors expected to hit Cheyenne this week and next for the Frontier Days Rodeo, there may be no worse fashion faux pas than wearing a cowboy hat wrong. It just makes a person look … well, bad.

Fortunately, Cowboy State Daily’s Jim Angell — who confesses he looks like an idiot in a cowboy hat — visited the experts at The Wrangler in Cheyenne the other day to get some tips on how to look good in this unique bit of headgear.

To sum up: Pick a hat that looks good to you (whether it be decorated with the American flag, lights up or is equipped with a bottle opener), get it in the right size and wear it level across the head (too far forward, you look like an outlaw, too far back, you look like Howdy Doody).

For detailed instructions, take a look at Jim’s visit to The Wrangler.

Today’s Cowboy Vocabulary word is: Slack

in Community/arts and culture
Cowboy Vocabulary Slack
1672

Slack refers to rodeo events scheduled at times other than the main rodeo because there is not enough time to squeeze everything into the main rodeo schedule. Often, these are the timed events, such as steer wrestling, team roping, tie-down roping and steer roping.

Used in a sentence:“The stands were nearly empty during Wednesday’s slack events but the steer wrestler turned in the best time of the go-round.”

Daddy of ‘Em All is BIG for local business

in Economic development/News/Food and Beverage/arts and culture
1644

Tourism officials in Cheyenne are predicting that the city’s annual Frontier Days celebration will bring at least as many people to Cheyenne as showed up for the 2018 event.

Darren Rudloff, president and CEO of Visit Cheyenne, said he understands that ticket sales for the 10-day rodeo are at levels about where they were last year, when about 105,000 people visited the city and reports indicate most hotels rooms in the city are full for the event.

“So far, rodeo tickets are on par with where they were last year, concert tickets are up about 10 percent from what I hear and the weather is going to be great as well,” he said. “So it’s looking like it’s going to be a great Frontier Days.”

Jim Osterfoss, owner of the Warren Nagle Mansion Bed and Breakfast, said his facility is booked to near capacity for the rodeo.

The annual boost for business provided by the extra visitors is always welcomed by businessmen such as George Kallas, who owns the Albany Restaurant in downtown Cheyenne with is brother Gus.

“It’s our Christmas,” he said.

Kallas noted that anyone in Cheyenne during the celebration would be challenged to be bored.

“People come in (to the Albany), they buy package (liquor), they buy food, they buy drink, they go to the (Depot) Plaza, there’s some nice bands on Friday and Saturday night, they go shopping and then they go out to the rodeo,” he said. “And then they go to the night show. And they enjoy all of that. If you can’t find something to do (during) Frontier Days in Cheyenne, there’s something wrong with you.”

Volunteers lead cattle along I-25 for Frontier Days Rodeo

in News/Agriculture/arts and culture
1636

It’s one thing to manage the herds of tourists that descend on Cheyenne for Frontier Days, but quite another to manage the herds of cattle that are the stars of the world’s largest outdoor rodeo.

On Sunday, dozens of volunteers did just that, escorting more than 500 Corriente steers from a pasture north of Cheyenne to the Frontier Days Park in the rodeo’s annual cattle drive.

The volunteers on horseback, including Gov. Mark Gordon, ran the cattle along Interstate 25 and some Cheyenne streets to the pens at the arena in preparation for the rodeo that begins Saturday.

The doctors are in: Meet the Cheyenne Frontier Days wagon doctors

in Community/arts and culture
1626

The dozens of wagons that travel the Cheyenne Frontier Days parade route every year are on the road thanks largely to the work of a dedicated handful of mechanics, painters, carpenters and other volunteers known collectively as the “Wagon Doctors.”

The group not only checks and maintains the wagons that are a fixture at the annual rodeo parade, but handles any repair work necessary on the vintage vehicles.

“We repair and restore old wagons,” said team member Ed Galavotti. “Anything that goes wrong with them or they need painting.”

Tom Watson said a number of volunteers with a wide variety of talents take part in the work.

“The guys we have, they do it as a hobby,” he said. “They do it year-round. We have machinists, we have carpenters, we have painters. We have one guy who does upholstery. So we pretty much can cover anything.”

Materials used to repair and refurbish the wagons, many of them more than 100 years old, are often not readily available, Galavotti said.

“We use specific lumber, we use carriage bolts that you don’t find,” he said. “But there’s places around that supply us.”

The repair work is almost constant, Watson said.

“You never run into something that you’re just going to bring in and fix real quick,” he said. “Because it always leads to something else that you find out wrong.”

Even wagons that do not need repairs get attention from the “doctors,” Watson said.

“All the wagons that are in the parade every year, we grease the axles, we give them a good look-over and tighten bolts,” he said.

The collection of wagons used for the parade is all them more impressive because they are actually used, he added.

“We used to say this was one of the biggest (wagon collections) in the United States,” he said. “There’s none bigger that uses them more.”

‘The Price is Right’ coming to Cheyenne

in Community/arts and culture
1615

If you’ve always wanted to hear your name followed by the phrase, “Come on down!” then you’re in luck: “The Price is Right” is coming to Cheyenne in December.

“The Price is Right Live,” a traveling version of the decades-long fixture of daytime television, will be in the Capital city on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

David Soules, booking and programming manager for the City of Cheyenne, says the touring game show is a close replica of what you see on TV.

“It’s the same people who put on the TV game show so you’ll see the same games, the prizes are similar – like cash, large appliances, and someone will have a chance of winning a car,” Soules said.

Soules said tickets to attend the show went on sale on Friday, July 12 and he expects them to sell quickly.

“I expect this to be a big hit,” he said. “It’s getting a lot of traction on social media. People are saying this is a ‘bucket list’ event.”

Attendees will likely be encouraged to show up in team shirts and “wacky costumes,” he said — similar to what is seen in other cities that host the production.

Those wishing to register as contestants for the show will be able to do so three hours before it begins. Those registering will not be required to purchase a ticket for the show and the purchase of a ticket will not guarantee that a person will be chosen as a contestant.

Cheyenne braces for CFD as new headquarters building opens

in Community/arts and culture
Cheyenne Frontier Days new headquarters
1618

Cheyenne residents are bracing for the start of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo next week and the influx of more than 100,000 visitors.

Frontier Days officially launches on Friday, July 19, and a study of the impact of the 2018 event shows that some 105,000 people from outside Laramie County traveled to the Capitol for the event, where they spent $27.1 million on lodging, food, entertainment and other purchases.

The study prepared by Dean Runyan Associates showed that once the “multiplier effect” is factored in, Frontier Days resulted in about $35 million of business activity in Cheyenne.

All told, the 2018 rodeo saw a total of more than 247,000 tickets sold for rodeo events and nightly concerts.

The 2019 Frontier Days celebration begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 19, with the Opening Day Celebration, followed by the opening of attractions such as the Indian Village, the carnival midway and the Buckin’ A Saloon.

The rodeo itself, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, will begin Saturday.

Just in time for the rodeo’s opening, a new Cheyenne Frontier Days headquarters opened on the grounds, equipped with an area for the rodeo’s sponsor’s to watch the rodeo.

“This building has been a dream of Cheyenne Frontier Days for many years,” said Tom Hirsig, president and CEO of Frontier Days. “Sponsors expect to have nice areas, air conditioned areas, places where they can get out of the weather here at Frontier Park.”

The new building also houses CFD’s corporate offices and offers event space that can be rented by groups, he said.

“We’re excited about this.” he said. “There’s really a need for a year-round facility that will generate income and make this facility live throughout the year. This really puts us in a year-round venue that we’ve never been in before.”

The building’s construction is a needed step as Frontier Days moves into the future, Hirsig added.

“I believe we’re moving in the right direction with this building,” he said. “We’ve been in existence for 123 years and we need at least 123 more. With that comes change. Sometimes change is difficult, but I really do believe we’re on the right path.”

Cody Firearms Museum reopens with a bang

in Community/arts and culture
1605

The Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is one of the largest collections of firearms in the world. Now that collection – with interactive exhibits highlighting the role of firearms in our culture – is back on public display in all its metallic glory.

Wendy Corr attended the grand reopening of the museum and sends us this report.

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