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Virginian Hotel owner says good spirits reside at the Medicine Bow landmark

in arts and culture/Community
2279

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.

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

in arts and culture/Community
2204

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 arts and culture/Community/News
2162

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 arts and culture/Community/News/Tourism
2127

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 arts and culture/News
2098

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 arts and culture/Tourism/Travel
2019 Singer-Songwriter Laramie Qualifying Round at the Alibi. (courtesy: Wyoming Singer-Songwriter Competition)
2048

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 arts and culture/Community
2050

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 arts and culture/Community
1863

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.

“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.”

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

in arts and culture/Community/Food and Beverage
1844

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 arts and culture/Travel
Lander Arts Center RiverFest
Courtesy Lander Arts Center.
1770

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.

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