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“The Laramie Project” Tackles Hard Issues in a Conservative Community

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

“The Laramie Project” is a theatrical production that unpacks the impact of a heinous crime on that southeast Wyoming community in October, 1998.

The Studio Theatre at the Cody Center for Performing Arts presented “The Laramie Project Cycle” in July. On alternating nights, for eight total performances, eight cast members presented “The Laramie Project” and “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.”

But in a community as conservative as Cody, putting on a show that highlights controversial social issues was a challenge, according to director Bethany Sandvik.

The Laramie Project

Tackling topics like LGBTQ+ attitudes, hate crimes, apathy and the re-writing of a community’s history, the play was first staged in Denver in 2000, followed by a New York City production two years later. A companion piece, titled “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later,” debuted in 2009, re-visiting the community’s response to the death of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, at the hands of two young men who grew up in Laramie.

The play was written based on hundreds of interviews with those directly involved in the case, conducted by members of New York City’s Tectonic Theatre Project. The producers traveled to Laramie to capture the reaction of the community to the fatal incident, which brought to the surface underlying prejudices and passionate responses to the life – and death – of the openly gay young man.

The play was written as “verbatim theatre,” in which the script is written word-for-word from interviews with the people who actually lived the experience surrounding Matthew Shepard’s death – from the young men who were found guilty of the crime, to friends and acquaintances of Shepard, to the law enforcement officers who investigated the case. 



A Difficult Show For the Cast

“It was a hard show to cast,” Sandvik told Cowboy State Daily. “It’s not a play for everybody. And it’s not a play for every actor, because each actor has to play eight to 10 different characters.”

But Sandvik said not only did she need actors who were versatile, they would also have to put aside any personal feelings about the subject matter.

“If you have an actor who is fantastic, but they are in any way afraid to play a gay person or something like that, this is not the right show for them,” she said.

Sandvik said that both she and the cast members learned much more about the events than what they knew.

“I had heard that a couple of the actors believed that the Matthew Shepard murder was a robbery gone wrong,” she said. “I don’t think that that is the case after them doing this play. Even I kind of questioned it a couple times as I was going through it, because I didn’t know the story as well as I thought I did, until I really delved into both plays.”

Revisiting the Past

Heather Green attended a performance of “The Laramie Project” at CCPA with her 14-year-old daughter. 

Green, who was a college student at the University of Wyoming in the fall of 1998, recalls that the community was shocked by the murder.

“I know that there was a general feeling of shock and just sadness and dismay on campus,” Green told Cowboy State Daily. “Everybody was pretty overwhelmed and just kind of gobsmacked by the incident. There was a lot of quiet and emotional reaction.”

Green said she didn’t know Shepard personally, but attended a vigil at the University immediately after Shepard was attacked, before he died a few days later.

“We all met at Prexy’s Pasture (on campus) and it was well attended,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of talking. I think everybody was just kind of overwhelmed and pretty emotional about it.”

After taking performances of both “The Laramie Project” and “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later,” Green said the play fairly accurately captured the sense of shock and disbelief felt in the community at the time.

“I think people accepted that it happened, but I feel like there was just a pretty huge, resounding shock when it did happen,” said Green. “We didn’t know how to process it. We didn’t know how to put words to it, because it was just so out of left field. It didn’t feel representative of the times, I guess.”

But, she said, times have changed.

“There’s a lot more hostility in present day America towards lots of different groups, so it would not shock me today nearly as much as it did then,” Green said. “Then it felt like things were just a little bit more innocent and peaceful. That might be really naive on my part, but that’s what it seemed like.”

Drew Murray, who was involved in the production behind the scenes, explained that the “10 Years Later” play highlights the changing narrative that occurred in Laramie in the years after Shepard’s death, from the initial hate crime charges, to the story that the murder was a result of a drug deal gone wrong.

“I heard the ‘10 Years Later’ narrative a lot just being there,” said Murray, who was a University of Wyoming student from 2013-2017. “You know, people talking about a drug deal. I heard that all the time. So I never really knew what the reality was, all of those narratives combined.”

Changing Perspectives

Murray has a unique perspective on the play’s subject matter, both at the time it was originally released and present day. Growing up in Cody, attending the University of Wyoming, and now on staff at Cody High School, Murray’s experiences with the LGBTQ+ community have varied widely. 

As the drama coach, Murray mentors several students who aren’t afraid to share their experiences with her. 

“Maybe it’s a generational difference, but I remember those kinds of things being profoundly private,” she said. “Our students are deeply unabashed to talk about anything sexual or anything body wise in front of us, whereas we would have never talked about that kind of stuff, especially not with a coach or a teacher. And now, oh, my gosh, the things that they say in front of us. They share everything, right down to the details that we never, ever wanted to know.” 

But growing up in Cody herself, Murray said those types of conversations didn’t happen, even among peers.

“I didn’t have any sort of exposure (to LGBTQ+ issues) before going to college,” Murray continued. “And we got kind of this weird insider education in college from friends who were political majors or human resource majors, which I think was really helpful.”  

In her position as the high school drama coach, Murray said she sees the program as a “safe space.”

“In theater, (LGBTQ+) is not our focus, and yet it’s still a safe space,” she said. “You’re not going there to be political, or going there to be an ally. You’re just going there to be a human, and you’re going to just be the human that you want, without any agenda.”

“Talk-Back”

Murray said that in planning for the production of “The Laramie Project,” she experienced difficulties in securing “Talk-Back” discussion panelists from the community – individuals who could shed light on the topics surrounding LGBTQ+ issues, from school support, to personal and family experiences, to hate crime legislation.

“With the Talk-Back, the audience gets an opportunity to talk to experts in the subject of the play,” Murray explained. “I got pretty good reactions for the family ‘coming-out’ stories, but I got a surprising amount of reluctance around the (topic of) school policies.”

Murray said the uncertainties surrounding school policies on LGBTQ+ issues were behind much of the reluctance for current employees to participate, although she did get a former teacher, who founded Cody High School’s GSA chapter, to speak on the matter.

“We ended up getting Amy Gerber, who’s retired,” Murray said, “and Jessica Case from the school board also came and talked. She was really informative, but beforehand, she was like, ‘I have to do some research.’” 

Murray said the process was educational for her, because as a school employee herself, she wasn’t entirely sure what the policies were. 

“The school really doesn’t have a lot of policies in place,” she said. “So when questions arose, I skipped down to my boss’s office and very casually asked, ‘By the way, what do we do about this?’ And they were like, ‘I have no idea, I’ve never even heard of that.’ They were super helpful and we figured things out, and we just kind of do it on a case by case basis.” 

Murray said she also hit a wall when she sought out legislative representatives to speak on the issue of anti-discrimination laws.

“We were never able to find any local or state representatives that were willing to talk on the hate crime laws,” she said. “We had one representative from Jackson who had agreed, and then ended up having a time conflict. But most of the representatives, I couldn’t even get an email back.”

Community Reception

Sandvik said she was disappointed in the small numbers that attended each performance.

“My theater serves about 150 people in this town, consistently, and they believe in what I do, and they believe in my mission,” she said. “But there’s a lot of people who would not come to this that are part of my mailing list and my regular (audience).” 

Green said her daughter, who is a member of the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) at Cody High School, appreciated the opportunity to attend a play that tackled these controversial issues. And she applauded CCPA’s decision to put on the play in Cody, despite a highly conservative population and mainstream opposition to the subject matter.

“Kudos to them for having the guts to do it,” she said. “And kudos to the people that went and supported it, because I think that there is a lot of hostility, and there’s a lot of people that are proud to preach their ignorant values, to be really honest. So I think when anybody has the guts to stand up and tell maybe a slightly different story or a different narrative, or highlight a group or or a story that’s maybe not mainstream accepted, that takes guts in Cody, Wyoming.”

“Bethany always likes to push the envelope just a little bit,” Murray said of Sandvik’s choice to put on a play with this subject matter. 

“The conversations we’re having are sort of preaching to the choir,” Sandvik said. “I’m glad that we’re having these conversations, but I feel like the conversations aren’t being had with the right people.”

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Cody’s Art Scene Named As One Of 10-Best In Country

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

Cody’s “vibrant arts community” was singled out last week as one of the ten best small town art “scenes” in the country. 

The list was voted on by USA Today readers, and put Cody alongside towns such as Tubac, Arizona; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and Taos, New Mexico.

“The former home of Buffalo Bill now hosts a vibrant arts community, thanks to the Cody Country Art League, Big Horn Galleries, Simpson Gallagher Gallery and Mountain Valley Artistry,” the article reads. “Visit during the annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale to find pieces celebrating the American West.” 

Buffalo Bill Art Show And Sale

“The art show really revolves around the beauty and the grandeur of where we live, right here in the West,” said the director of the Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale, Kathy Thompson. “They just love to come and get examples for them to paint and sculpt. And it’s all right here in this little beautiful corner of the world.” 

The sale is the keystone event for the town’s annual “Rendezvous Royale,” a week-long celebration of art and artisanship that’s held the third week of September. Western artists such as Chris Navarro, D. Michael Thomas, Ezra Tucker and Vic Payne have sold their paintings and sculptures at the annual sale, which last year brought almost $1.5 million to the artists and the community. 

Thompson, who has coordinated the show for the last 15 years, pointed out that many of the artists whose work brought them to Cody have found themselves at home in the town that was founded by one of the greatest showmen who ever lived. 

“We have artists from not only here, right in Park County, but we also have artists that have moved from Australia and are moving to Cody,” she told Cowboy State Daily. 

She said that besides the inspiring surroundings and the high dollar payouts, it’s the people of Cody that attract artists to the area every year. 

“We’ve attracted some very big names, and people that do very well in all of the art shows,” Thompson said. “But the other thing that, of course, really draws all these big names and great art is that Cody just takes care of their people when they come. They have a wonderful time being here, and Cody just rolls out a red carpet every time.” 

There are 104 artists who will be featured in this year’s art show and sale, said Thompson, and each one offers a different view of the American West. 

“There’s over 100 ways to see the west,” she said. “You could have five different buffalo pieces – sculptures and paintings – and it’s a different look at that animal every time.” 

Galleries

One of the reasons Cody landed on USA Today’s list is the surprising number of art galleries for a small town of around 10,000 residents. There are at least nine, in fact, featuring media ranging from handcrafted steel wall art, custom furniture, photographs, bronzes, ceramics – and of course, paintings. 

One of the galleries mentioned in the USA Today piece is the Simpson Gallagher Gallery, founded by Sue Simpson Gallagher and her husband, John, in 1994. Sue, the daughter of former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson and his wife, Ann, said her parents instilled in her a love for the arts from a young age. 

“My parents raised us with great art appreciation,” Gallagher told Cowboy State Daily. “They’re self trained art historians. We never went to a town where we didn’t visit a museum, and if there wasn’t an art museum, we went to history museums, and we went to concerts. It was essential in our education and upbringing in my family, and it totally took with me.” 

Gallagher was the original curator for the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, and also spent time in New York City’s art scene, before she and her husband decided they needed to move back to her hometown in Wyoming. 

Gallagher said she’s not an artist herself, but is an essential piece in the creative process – an “appreciator.” 

“Without the person to appreciate, it sort of falls flat,” she said. “It’s hard to get excited. And so I feel like my creative outlet is to support people who are.” 



Buffalo Bill Center Of The West

The cornerstone for the art scene in Cody is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, founded in 1917 by Buffalo Bill’s niece, Mary Jester Allen. The Center features the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, named for a famous sculptor from New York City, Gertrude Whitney, whose massive “Scout” bronze anchors Cody’s main street at its west end. 

“The museum was the inspiration for my life and my vocation,” Simpson said. “I grew up going to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (as it was called then) all the time. I would take myself there if nobody took me. And I found that art could take me to different places. Art could take me outside myself. Art could take my imagination, could enhance my own story with someone else’s story.” 

The museum is the Art Show and Sale’s primary partner, hosting the auction and other events. It is also the number one attraction in the community that is otherwise primarily known as a gateway to Yellowstone National Park. 

“We are a tourist town with a wonderful year round community of people who care about each other, and look out for each other,” said Gallagher. “And I feel like when people come through here, they see it too. They feel it. And they love that Buffalo Bill wanted it to be in our community.” 

Cody’s Art Community

Gallagher said that the community of artists and art gallery proprietors within the larger community of Cody really comes together during the annual Rendezvous Royale. She pointed to the “Creative Guide to Cody and Powell,” which was created and distributed by Brian Timmer of the Timmer Gallery downtown. 

“They made it for all of us and distributed it to all of us,” Gallagher said, referring to the other gallery owners. “It gives a little bit of information about every gallery in the communities.”  

The building adjoining Gallagher’s business is another prominent gallery, the Big Horn Gallery, owned by Bob and Nancy Brown. Gallagher said that the two would-be competitors often join forces, hosting events. 

Gallagher pointed out that the Cody Country Art League, situated in the Chamber of Commerce building across the street from the museum, was the very first sales gallery in the community. Founded in 1964, the Art League is a space to promote local artists, many of whom haven’t quite reached professional status yet.  

“(The Art League has supported) amateur artists, including my grandmother,” Gallagher said. “The Art League is sort of a foundation that we’ve all built upon, and hopefully enhanced, with bringing artists from around the country.”  

Taking Home A Piece Of The West

Thompson pointed out that patrons of the art show come back year after year because they want to take home a little piece of this unique part of the country. 

“Our very best patrons bring new people every year, because they’re so excited about the art here, and meeting the artists themselves,” said Thompson. “They want to support the arts, and they want to support the artists.”  

And even though many who visit Cody don’t purchase art while they are in town, just the presence of so many galleries and organizations that support artists – like the non-profit “By Western Hands” museum and gallery just around the corner from the Simpson Gallagher and Big Horn galleries – enhances the community’s culture. 

“There are lots of people in this community who may not be art buyers, but build us up, feeling like it’s really important that art galleries and artists are here, contributing to the community,” Gallagher said. 

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Cody’s Buffalo Bill Center Reassembling Gigantic Grizzly Bear Skeleton; “It’s Adult Legos”

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

A massive reconstruction effort is happening in Cody, but it’s not a building.

It’s a bear. 

And when you build a bear – a real one – you’ve got to start with the bones. 

That’s what volunteers and staff are doing at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, under the watchful eye of expert bone builder Lee Post. 

Post literally wrote the book on how to put together animal skeletons (“Building Bear Bones: A Guide to Preparing and Assembling a Bear Skeleton”), which is the guide used by staff at the Draper Museum of Natural History to assemble the bones of a 14-year-old grizzly that once inhabited this region.  

“The Draper Natural History Museum was established in 2002,” said Corey Anco, the Draper Museum’s interim curator. “This year, we turned 20 years old, and this is the first time we’ve ever done a reconstruction of the skeleton at this scale, open to the public.”   

Lee Post is the bone-builder himself, an expert not because of his degree, but his experience. Post isn’t an anthropologist, or even a scientist. He calls himself a “grown up nature nerd.”

“I got very interested in bones young in life, shortly after I dropped out of college, and never looked back,” Post told Cowboy State Daily. 

Homer, Alaska

Post, the owner of a bookstore in Homer, Alaska, learned how to articulate skeletons as a young man at the local library. 

“I live in Alaska, and we had a natural history museum, much smaller than this one, but a wonderful natural history museum,” Post said. “(They) had a whale skeleton that they had collected, it was a 17-foot Bering Sea beaked whale.”

Post said that during slow months in Homer, when he wasn’t working with his mom in their small bookstore, he hung out at the museum for the fun of it and expressed interest in assembling the whale bones. But he was told that no one at the museum had the time or the expertise to guide him.

“I had a bookstore, so I figured I’d go to my bookstore, look up books in print,” he said. 

But there were none on the topic. And he found that there were no museum experts who were articulating animal skeletons in any uniform way, so their methods were all radically different.

“So, this tells me there is no gold standard for how to do this,” he said.

He then decided to use his own experience as a bicycle mechanic and occasional carpenter to come up with his own methods. 

“With what I know about tools and putting things together and taking things apart,” he told the Homer museum staff, “I’m sure I can come up with better ways in this. So they gave me the go-ahead.”



How To Build Skeletons

After putting together skeletons of whales, moose, sea otters and porcupines, visitors who saw his work at the Homer Natural History Museum, as well as the local high school, began asking him to be a consultant for projects around the country.

“A lot of those visitors were teachers, and a lot of those teachers saw that and it’s like, ‘How can we do this?’ So I started writing up directions on how to do skeletons,” he said.

And now, Post has come “out of the closet,” so to speak, with his bones.

“I no longer want to just sit in a closet and put bones together by myself,” he said. “I’ve had too much fun too many times with too many organizations with their volunteers and their docents.”

Post said that his process has evolved over the years, so he can show volunteers with no experience in articulating bones how to put together a completed skeleton. 

“I just love when it’s organized to a point where we can set people down and I can show them step by step how to do this,” Post said. “And that’s what (the Center of the West) wanted, was to show their people how to do this, so they could do it next time.”

“We have volunteers that are retired bankers, retired military,” Anco explained. “Colleen just spent five months in Antarctica. Julia here is in her senior year of school at University of Wyoming.”

“Adult Legos”

Anco described the process of putting together the grizzly’s bones as “adult Legos.”

“All these little pieces come together in a certain way, they have an orientation,” he explained. “And so you line that up, you match the way the pieces go. And then we’re using a combination of glue and pins and epoxy to bring this all to life.”

Anco explained that the volunteers drill holes in the bones where pins will slide, then set the pins in place with glue. 

“We will be erecting this on two legs, as if it’s scratching its back, said Anco. “We will not be putting the skin back on – we want to showcase all the hard work of the volunteers and staff here in recreating this beautiful structure and skeleton. It will show how the skeletal structure lends itself to the morphology or the function of that animal.”

Anco explained that using the reconstruction of the bear as a workshop showcases the work that goes into creating displays that educate visitors.

“We wanted to do this in a way that we can show the visitors and show the community, we’re more than just exhibits on display,” Anco said. “We are actively constructing them right here, right in front of our eyes.”

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Social Influencer Known For Eating Raw Animal Organs Set To Move In To Kanye West’s Building In Cody

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

A major social media influencer may take over a manufacturing space previously operated by hip-hop artist Kanye West in Cody.

Texas resident Brian Johnson, also known as the “Liver King,” may become the new owner a 30,819-square foot property that West incorporated into a state-of-the-art sample and prototype laboratory for his “Yeezy” footwear company. 

Officials with Complete Human, a nutrition company, are working to form a partnership with Johnson’s nutritional supplement company. If successful, the supplement company will operate the former Yeezy building as a manufacturing plant.

Millions of Followers

The Liver King may not be as famous as West but has drawn 1.6 million followers on Instagram and 2.8 million fans on TikTok in less than a year. 

Known for promoting the consumption of raw meat, his highly muscular frame and thick beard, Liver King encourages viewers to embrace their hunter-gatherer “ancestral” past while taking up strenuous workouts and swigging down protein shakes chock full of blended raw animal organs, animal testicles, or his daily pound of raw liver and sea salt.

“I’m full of unbridled passion and energy and willingness and wantingness to do good in this world,” Johnson said on his website, “to make a difference… to make insane sacrifices because of my drive and dedication to make my greatest contribution… to help people heal and be healthy through ancestral living.”

The Liver King isn’t a big fan of greens, claiming vegetables lack the material required to produce a healthy set of testicles. 



Liver King addresses his fans “primals,” calls his cardio workouts “simulated hunts,” and refers to his weight workouts as “training barbarian.” 

Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A recent workout video Liver King made at Yellowstone National Park showed the influencer dragging a rack of weights tied to his back as steam from volcanic thermals waft in the background, all to a soundtrack of thumping electronic music.

He also recently shot three promotional videos at the Cody Rodeo Grounds for his products. In one he emulates a bucking bull as his son straddles his back and holds on for the necessary eight seconds.

“You done good boy,” Johnson remarked.

Evan Demarco, co-owner of Complete Human, said Johnson was in Cody touring the area and ranches that may produce his product.



Developing Partnership

A.J. Richards, a spokesperson for Complete Human, said negotiations are in the works to develop a partnership with Johnson and his Ancestral Supplements company, which offers workout products such as grass fed beef organs, liver, heart, thyroid, bone and marrow.

Complete Human recently purchased Cody-based Wyoming Legacy Meats and is building a new meat processing facility in Cody. The company plans to sell its meat directly to health-conscious consumers, a movement Richards said has been “rediscovered” in recent years.

“People are becoming aware and understanding of the value,” he said. “It’s not new.”

Due to their shared clientele, vision and products, Richards said the partnering with Liver King could be a natural fit, but no deal has been finalized yet.

Richards said if a partnership is developed, grass-fed USDA certified meat will be brought from the processing plant to the other facility, where it would be used in Johnson’s products. 

Demarco said his company has acquired West’s old manufacturing space from its current owner, pharmaceutical company Lannett, and is wrapping up the closing details. Lannett previously ran operations in Cody as part of its Cody Labs venture. West leased this space from Lannett for roughly $108,000 a month for about 18 months between 2019 and 2021. 

“What’s really ironic is that a building originally used for producing opiates is now going towards a healthy nutritious lifestyle,” Richards said. “The idea that we’re taking something originally designed for that is the real story.”



The 14.86-acre property on County Road 2AB in Cody was listed for sale at $2.5 million when originally offered in February.

Demarco said although his company will not be buying Ancestral Supplements, Johnson would be the co-owner of the new facility his products would be made at. 

To develop a partnership with the company, Demarco said Johnson, like other partners, had to agree to invest in an equity stake in the company, which he said will give him a role within the company larger than that of a “minority owner.”

Complete Human has teamed up with other social media influencers such as Janna Breslin and Brooke Ence and the company is also working with grill maker Traeger to manufacture a line of meal boxes in Cody featuring cuts of Wagyu beef brisket, ribs and chicken.

Demarco said he sees promotional partnerships like these as critical to “shining a light” on his company because of the food shortages he sees coming in the next one to two years. He said he expects inflationary pressures to cause a wave of beef culling and force many beef producers to start selling grass fed beef.

“It will revolutionize grass feeding,” he said. “We’re hoping we can help mitigate this. Even though we anticipate food shortages in the short term, we believe this can be beneficial in the long run.”

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Comedian Will Ferrell Stranded In Cody Because Of Yellowstone Floods

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Comedian Will Ferrell (right) poses for a photo with a fan in Wyoming.
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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State daily.com

Will Ferrell, the star of blockbuster movies like “Talladega Nights” and “Step Brothers” made a few stops in Cody earlier this week, becoming pretty much a regular at one establishment.

Porter Koury, co-owner of Sitti’s Table, said Ferrell and his family came by her gourmet food market multiple times.

“He was just really nice,” she said.

Although he didn’t make any memorable jokes or one-liners, Scott said Ferrell was complimentary and told her he was drawn to her business originally because of the font on her sign outside.

“He’s one of my favorite actors so that was really awesome,” she said.

Koury said Ferrell told her he and his family had hoped to visit Yellowstone National Park while in the area, but were blocked in those efforts because of recent flooding that closed the park.

She recommended Ferrell check out the historic Chamberlin Inn and he took her up on the suggestion.

“He was great,” said Bill McPherson, general manager of the Chamberlain.

Ferrell shared some drinks in the cocktail lounge with his party at the Chamberlain and said he would return later in the day, but McPherson was unsure if he did.

McPherson said although Ferrell was not showing off his comedic chops, he was very polite and offered compliments for the Chamberlain, a historic hotel dating back to 1903 that has hosted guests such as Ernest Hemingway, Marshall Fields, and Larry Larom. 

“Just for him to check it out and get a compliment from someone like that feels really good,” McPherson said.

McPherson said Ferrell was traveling with around eight people in three RVs. He said they told him they were staying at the Ponderosa Campground. A representative from Ponderosa said she was unaware if Ferrell was staying at their establishment but joked that he may have been staying “incognito.” 

Ponderosa is next door to Dairy Queen, which means Ferrell could have easily walked over to get himself a cone or frozen treat. 

A manager at the Dairy Queen said he had no knowledge of Ferrell ever coming in. If he did, it may still not have been as good as the “Anchorman” themed  “Scotchy scotch scotch” ice cream he released in collaboration with Ben And Jerry’s in 2013.

Koury said Ferrell was headed to Livingston, Montana, next and planned to fly out from Bozeman.

Brush With Fame

The town of Cody is no stranger to celebrities. John Wayne was a parade marshal during the town’s Fourth of July festivities in 1976. “Yellowstone” star Cole Hauser will be the grand marshal this year.

Hip-hop star Kanye West called Cody home for about 18 months, from 2019-2021, and was spotted on numerous occasions around town.

McPherson said Ferrell was the most prominent celebrity he’s met, but he did meet the Prince of Monaco when he came to Cody a few years back.

Koury said she took it as quite the compliment that Ferrell would visit her business, which just opened this spring. She was able to resist the urge to ask for a signed photo to hang up. Signed photos with celebrities are a common fixture in many large metropolitan delis and restaurants.

“I didn’t want to ask him for that,” she said.

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Harley Rally Will Go On: Cody & Yellowstone Work Together To Accommodate 500 Motorcyclists

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

A large Harley motorcycle rally taking place in Cody this week will be affected but not stopped by restrictions adopted by  Yellowstone National Park due to flooding events.

Because of the recent floods and damage that forced the closure of the park’s northern loop, including its north and northeast entrances,  Yellowstone staff enacted an alternating license plate system to control entry into the park and alleviate possible increased pressures on its southern portion.

Under the system, vehicles with license plates ending with an even number will be allowed into the park on even-numbered days, while cars with plates ending in odd numbers will be allowed entry on odd-numbered days.

But all motorcyclists are being allowed in on even days, regardless of the last digit on their license plates.

This rule allows groups of motorcyclists to travel and plan together for their Yellowstone trips. 

500 Motorcyclists

However, some planning still had to be done to accommodate the members of the Harley Owners Group who want to visit Yellowstone while they are in Cody.

“The original plan was to give them (Harley Owners Group) more flexibility and have that leeway,” said Cody Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tina Hoebelheinrich. “We’re going to continue to work with park staff on that plan.”

She said nearly 500 motorcyclists are in town for the rally. Originally, the plan was for the motorcyclists to be allowed to visit the park at their leisure, but Hoebelheinrich said they will now all enter Yellowstone together on Friday and spend the day in the park.

“It’s really great to see folks who put this level of trust in us, for them to still come,” she said.

The controlled entry system was put into place Wednesday, the first day the park was reopened after flooding closed its closure and evacuation on June 13.

The system does not apply to travelers with reservations in the park.

Adjusting Rules

During a conference call with the Cody Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said some consideration to adjusting rules could be made after the park’s reopening day on Wednesday. 

“If we say one gate has to do this and another gate has to do that, it gets out of control,” he cautioned.

The northern loop of the park is expected to reopen in two weeks, at which point Sholly said the park will revisit its entrance policies. The North Entrance will not open at that time.

However, there are still plenty of rides available for members of the HOG to take, Hoebelheinrich said.

“There’s so many great rides you can do in the Big Horn Basin,” Hoebelheinrich said.

One popular local destination for motorcyclists is the Beartooth Highway. 

Big Deal

Flooding outside Red Lodge, Montana, caused severe damage to the east side of this pass. A small section of highway on the west side of the pass is currently open, but from Cody, people can still access Cooke City, Mont., outside the Northeast Entrance.

Hoebelheinrich said considering the high cost of gas right now, it’s a feather in Cody’s cap to receive this large of a turnout. 

Hoebelheinrich said rallies put on by the Harley Owners Group typically draw around 1,000 riders, but since COVID-19, attendance has been running closer to a 50%.

For the celebration, Sheridan Avenue and a few side streets — the majority of Cody’s downtown corridor — will be closed on Thursday night for The Kick’n It in Cody H.O.G. Rally! 

There will be Harleys lined up along the street and a few Harley displays. 

There will also be a one-night open container policy in place for the event, allowing people to drink in the streets while they check out the bikes.

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Buffalo Bill’s Grave, Part 2: National Guard Called Out To Protect Buffalo Bill’s Body

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This is the second part of a two-part series about Buffalo Bill Cody’s gravesite. Part one can be found here.

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

In January of 1917, the citizens of Cody, Wyoming, were devastated to find out that their town’s founder, namesake and hero, Col. William F. Cody, had died of kidney failure while visiting his sister in Denver, Colorado.

But in the weeks following his death, their grief turned to anger as details emerged about how Cody’s wife, Louisa, had “sold” Bill’s body to the publishers of the Denver Post so the famous showman could be laid to rest in Colorado… capitalizing on the Western showman’s fame.

Bob Richard, noted Cody historian and author, told Cowboy State Daily that Louisa met with the mayor of Denver, along with the two owners of the Denver Post, Harry Tammen and Frederick Bonfils, shortly after her husband passed.

“After much discussion, and she has to catch the train at 11 o’clock, the mayor said, ‘I’ll give you $10,000,’” Richard said. “And that’s when the publisher said, ‘And here’s another $10,000, that’s $20,000 – if we can have his body and find a place and have a proper burial here.’ She says, ‘He’s all yours,’ and took the money and put it in her big bag. And then they hurried her very quickly to Union Station and got her on the train. 

“And she came back to Cody,” Richard continued, “and all of Cody – or a big portion – met the train across the way at the Burlington Cody Inn, and they waited for the baggage door to open, and it didn’t open. And they said, ‘Where’s Bill?’ She says, ‘I sold him,’ and got in the carriage. But the $20,000 in today’s dollars would be about $490,000 in value.” 

Switched Bodies

That’s when – according to the tale told to Richard by his grandfather, Fred, Fred’s brother-in-law Ned Frost and the Cody mortician John Vogel – a plan was hatched to go to Denver and switch bodies — Bill’s for a dead ranch hand who bore a striking resemblance to Bill.

According to legend, the plan was a success, and the three men buried Col. Cody where his 1906 will had requested, atop Cedar Mountain overlooking the town that he founded.

But, Richard said, in an effort to throw anyone off the trail, Vogel, Fred Richard and Frost created a very elaborate diversion as soon as they returned from burying Cody.

“They turned the horses in, and then went and showered, and then Ned, Fred and John hit every bar and club in Cody, commenting how Cody folks should go down to Denver and bring back Bill’s body,” Richard said, “never mentioning that he was already here.”

Richard said for three nights the men riled up their fellow townspeople, urging them to caravan to Denver to reclaim their beloved Buffalo Bill.

“On Friday, everybody in Cody got in a bunch of cars,” he said. “And I’ve heard 400, I’ve heard 100 – with three or four armed men. And as soon as they left town, Vogel got on the phone and called (Denver mortician John) Olinger and said, ‘Cody people armed to the teeth are coming down to steal Bill’s body.’”

Richard said the Denver mortician notified Denver’s mayor and the publishers of the Denver Post, asking for direction.

“And the mayor said, ‘Well, we’re negotiating on Lookout Mountain’ (for a burial location),” Richard said. “‘We’ll get it dug and get him buried today.’ So Olinger took the cadaver up there and they announced that there was going to be a burial, and notified Louisa and all the powers that be, and they quickly laid him to rest.”

Call Out The National Guard

But there was the matter of the mob that was at that moment driving to Colorado. So Richard said the powerful Denver contingent made a decision.

“They knew the Cody people were coming, so they sent the National Guard up to the Colorado/Wyoming border and repelled everybody,” Richard said. “So (the Cody caravan) went back to Cheyenne, and they called John Vogel and said, ‘John, the Army stopped us. We can’t even get into Colorado.’ And Vogel says, ‘Men, you’ve done your job well, come back, and we’re going to have a big party at the Irma.’”

While the historical record doesn’t quite match up to the tale Richard’s grandfather and uncle told him, a similar scenario actually did play out in 1948.

According to an article posted on the Denver Public Library’s website, that was the year that the Colorado National Guard was called to stand guard over the Lookout Mountain grave site after American Legion members in Cody offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could steal Cody’s body. 

The article also reported that in 2006, Wyoming legislators debated (jokingly) about mounting a “clandestine” effort to retrieve Buffalo Bill’s body.

No matter where the frontiersman, investor, entertainer and visionary is actually buried, the legacy of Col. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody remains as vibrant today as it was 100 years ago, as even years after his death and burial, he continued to make headlines.

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The Question Persists: Where Is Buffalo Bill Really Buried?

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

He was, without question, the most famous man of his day.  Col. William F. Cody, better known to the world as “Buffalo Bill,” brought the mystique and adventure of the Wild West to everyday people around the globe in the decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century.

But the community of Cody, his favorite part of the world, the town that bears his name, the place in which his 1906 will directed that he be buried — was not his final resting place.

Or was it?

Bob Richard is an author and historian from Cody. Last week, Richard presented a theory at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West that perhaps Buffalo Bill isn’t really buried on Lookout Mountain in Colorado.

Instead he theorized, the western showman’s body may have been stolen by Richard’s grandfather and two accomplices as part of a bold plot to bury  Bill’s body where he wished – at the top of Cedar Mountain overlooking the town he founded. 

Worldwide Fame

William Cody was many things in his storied life – as a young man, he rode for the Pony Express; he was an Indian scout and buffalo hunter for the railroad (hence his nickname, “Buffalo Bill”) who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Cody rose to worldwide fame as the star of thousands of dime novels romanticizing his exploits in the Wild West. He capitalized on that fame when he created “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show,” which toured across the United States and in Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

And although he made a tidy sum of money with his Wild West Show  entertaining celebrities such as Queen Victoria of England and appearing at venues such as the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, Cody’s investments and spending habits soon ate through his savings.

“Buffalo Bill is in his prime in the late 1880s and 90s,” said Margie Johnson, who with her husband Mike has researched Cody’s history extensively. “He’s traveling the world, he’s promoted by the papers of the day, he’s going to country after country after country. He’s raking in the money.” 

Because he now had the ability to finance large projects, Cody, by the early 1900s, had thrown himself into a grand venture – creating the community that bears his name near the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park. He and his partners formed the Shoshone Land and Irrigation Company, acquiring water rights from the Shoshone River to irrigate 60,000 acres. 

Cody’s vision included the construction of the 325-foot-high Buffalo Bill Dam, one of the first concrete arch dams built in the United States and the highest dam in the world at the time of its completion in 1910.

Cody’s Will

It was during this time that Cody recorded his first will, written in 1906, which explicitly laid out instructions as to where he wished to be buried.



“It is my wish and I hereby direct that my body shall be buried in some suitable plot of ground on Cedar Mountain,” the will read, “overlooking the town of Cody, Wyoming, in order that my mortal remains shall lie in close proximity to that fair section of my native Country which bears my name, and in the growth and development of which I have taken so deep and loving an interest, and to which wheresoever and to whatever parts of the earth I have wandered I have always longed to return.”

“In (1906), he’s flush. He’s happy,” said Margie, “but he’s miserable with (wife) Louisa. He tries to get divorce and she won’t have it… but he makes his will at some time in that year.” 

Cody and his wife had had a contentious relationship for most of their married lives. Cody’s 1906 will bequeathed Louisa with very little of his vast land holdings.

However, money became seriously tight between 1910 and 1917, according to Richard, who said Cody made a fateful decision to take a loan out from the owners of the Denver Post, Harry Tammen and Frederick Bonfils.

“In (1912), he borrowed the money, it was $20,000 from Tammen and (Bonfills),” said Mike Johnson. “He couldn’t pay it back, and went to work for them on other shows.”

“He had a lot of property, but he was cash poor,” said Margie. “The Denver Post people were holding him in servitude. He was broke, and he went to them and borrowed money from them – I think it was $10,000 – to put the Wild West Show into storage, and he couldn’t pay it. So basically they made him work for them in substandard productions just to pay off that, and he was embarrassed.”

The Truce

It was during this period that Cody and his wife apparently called a truce, according to the Johnsons.  

“He changed his will in (1913) and he and Louisa apparently reconciled,” Mike said. “So now she’s in charge. She gets everything.”

When Cody fell seriously ill at the end of 1917, his finances were in disarray. And while a guest at his sister’s house in Denver, Colorado, the showman passed away on Dec. 10, 1917.

“He was laid in-state both at the (Denver) Elks club and the Capitol,” said Richard. “And 25,000 people attended his being in-state at one place or the other.”

Because of Cody’s financial debts, despite his express wishes to be buried on Cedar Mountain overlooking his town in the Rockies, Louisa was convinced by Cody’s debtors, Denver Post owners Tammen and Bonfils, to allow Cody to be buried near Denver instead.

“The mayor and the owners of the Denver Post met with Louisa, but she turned them down and said ‘No, he’s not for sale,’” Richard said. “And they said, ‘We want to take you to breakfast and talk about it and see if we can work out a deal.’”

By the end of breakfast, Louisa had changed her mind.

“‘(We’ll give you) $20,000 if we can have his body, and find a place, and have a proper burial here,’” is how Richard said the conversation went. “She says, ‘He’s all yours,’ and took the money and put it in her big bag. And then they hurried her very quickly to the Union Station and got her on the train, and she came back to Cody.”

Richard said that sum of money would have allowed Louisa to pay her husband’s bills and meet the obligations that he had been committed to.

But that’s where the official record ends – and the legend begins. 



Rubber Bag Full Of Ice

Richard said the following tale was told to him by John Vogel, Ned Frost and his grandfather, from the time he was a young boy:

“John Vogel, the undertaker in Cody had a rancher south of Cody bring in a ranch hand that had died, and this was in late January,” Richard said. “And John proceeded to look at the cadaver, and he went and got some scissors and trimmed up his beard and his mustache, and went over to his phone, and he called Fred Richard (Bob’s grandfather) and Ned Frost (Fred’s brother in law, both were friends of Bill Cody’s). He says, ‘Boys, we’re going to Denver, we’re going to trade bodies. I’ve got a cadaver here, and I think we can pass him off for Bill.’”

So, Richard said, the three came into town that night and left early the next morning, putting the cowboy in a rubber bag full of ice in the back of a Packard for the two-day trip to Denver.

“When they got there, they went directly to the mortuary and met with Ohlinger (the mortician) because Vogel knew him,” Richard said. “Then they said ‘We’d like to see Bill,’ and he said, ‘Sure, we’ve got him down under the stairs because that’s the coolest place.’ And when the men went down, Fred, Ned and Vogel pulled Bill out and looked in, and said ‘Yep, sure enough, that’s Bill.’”

Richard said that after dinner that night, the three men went back to the mortuary, went down the steps, and exchanged the bodies.

“They carried Bill up, put him in the iced rubber bag back in the car, and they were gassed up and headed out of town,” Richard said. 

He explained that when the men arrived back in Cody, they transported the body to an undisclosed location at the top of Cedar Mountain, where they buried their friend.

Could The Switch Have Happened?

In all the years Richard has relayed this tale, questions inevitably arise. Could the switch have happened? Wouldn’t anyone have noticed that the body in the Denver mortuary did not look exactly like the man who was possibly the most recognizable person in the world?

“It could have been done,” said Mike Johnson, who several years ago walked through the mortuary, which still exists as it did in 1917. “The crypt room was big enough to pull the casket out, take the body out, change clothing, change bodies, do it all in the crypt room, slide the wrong guy back in the casket and take the rubber bag out the door. So the answer is yes. It could have happened.”

The official record, though, is that Buffalo Bill Cody is buried on Lookout Mountain near Golden, Colorado. Bill’s foster son, Johnny Baker, oversaw the formation of a visitor’s center at the site of Cody’s memorial, which still stands today.

But the Johnsons, who have kept the legend of Bill’s burial alive through the business they founded in the early 2000s, Cody Trolley Tours, would like to see the showman’s 1906 will fulfilled. Even if Cody’s body really is buried on Lookout Mountain, the Johnsons said the townspeople of the community that bears his name could honor the 1906 request of the man whose larger-than-life presence is still felt today.

“I further direct that there shall be erected over my grave, to mark the spot where my body lies, a monument wrought from native Red stone in the form of a mammoth Buffalo,” Cody’s 1906 will read, “and placed in such a position as to be visible from the town, in order that it may be a constant reminder to my fellow citizens that it was the great wish of its founder that Cody should not only grow in prosperity and become a populous and influential metropolis, but that it should be distinguished for the purity of its government and the loyalty of its citizens to the institution of our beloved Country.”  

“The whole town is built on his back,” said Mike Johnson. “But (the monument) never happened. And it shouldn’t be a difficult thing, it’s an issue of engineering. It’s windy up there. But once it’s engineered, it’s just a matter of money. It should really be somebody just taking charge of it.”

There is a fiberglass statue of a buffalo on top of Cedar Mountain, which was given to the community by the city of Golden, Colorado, where Buffalo Bill is officially said to be buried, as a sort of peace offering in the tug-of-war between the two cities.

Even without the buffalo statue Cody requested in his 1906 will, the city of Cody has definitely paid tribute to its founder. 

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s bronze statue “The Scout” features prominently at the west end of Cody’s main street, Sheridan Avenue. Cody’s likeness can be found on business signs; the famous Buffalo Bill Center of the West is the town’s primary tourist attraction, where visitors can find out more about Cody’s legacy.

“His spirit is in this town,” said Margie Johnson. “The creativity. Look what Buffalo Bill did with his life.”

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Delta Stops Cody Airport Service Because Of Pilot Shortage; Air Service Cut In Half

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Flights in and out of Cody’s Yellowstone Regional Airport will be reduced by nearly half this summer, due to a shortage of available pilots.

Airport Manager Aaron Buck said a shortage of pilots has caused Delta Airlines to cancel all of its planned flights between Cody and Salt Lake City, leaving only United Airlines and its flights to and from Denver as the only service to the airport.

“We will have four flights a day that are coming in, and four flights out,” Buck told Cowboy State Daily. “And then in July, it looks like there’ll be some days that are four and some days that are just three.”

This summer’s schedule will be significantly less active than what the airport has seen in the past.

“You know, last year we had seven flights a day on Saturdays,” Buck said. “We won’t have anything close to that this year.” 



Last summer, Delta offered up to two flights a day between Cody and Salt Lake from early May to October, making up around 25% of YRA’s total flights.

“It’s going to be about 400 seats less per week that we get to get in,” said Buck. “So if you think about it that way, rather than just flights, you know, it’s about 400 less seats during that time frame during August and July.”

The airline announced in January that it was going to cut back its flights by 25%, due to pandemic-related staffing issues that saw thousands of Delta pilots take early retirement, as well as disruptions caused by training schedules. 

YRA has seen record numbers of enplanements so far this year – January, February and March saw the highest number of travelers ever flying out of Cody’s airport; 2,055, 2,044 and 2,623, respectively.

As a result, Delta’s cancellation comes as a blow, Buck said.

“What’s unfortunate about it so far, is January, February, March, April, have all been up,” he said. “And so we’re having a banner year, but we don’t have a banner year of flights in the summer.” 

Buck pointed out that the cancellation of daily flights between Cody and Salt Lake City will have a negative economic impact.

“It will greatly affect the income of the airport directly,” he said. “It also will affect the income of the community a little bit as far as the number of people. I mean, 400 less people a week that can get access to Cody through the airport.”

A factor working in Cody’s favor, however, is the fact that the Jackson airport will be closed through the middle of June for runway repairs – so some travelers who would have flown into Jackson will be coming to Cody instead.

“They added one flight a day to us that would have been going to Jackson during that time,” Buck said. “They have a significant runway closure that’s going on there. But yeah, we have an extra flight a day during Ma, because of that. 

“So we’re still going to have a really strong April and a really strong May, and even a really strong June compared to last year,” he continued. “Some of the extra flights that we’re missing are going to be in our July, August timeframe.”

Ryan Hauck, Executive Director for the Park County Travel Council, said the pilot shortage is just another impact that the COVID pandemic has had on the country’s economy.

“That’s the next ripple effect from what COVID did,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “First, it was no travel, then last year, it was staffing, and this year, it is lack of pilots.”

But Hauck pointed out that most people come to Cody by car, rather than plane, so the lack of plane traffic may not have much of an effect on the local businesses that rely on tourism.

“Luckily for us, we have always been a very heavy drive market,” he said. “So I will tell you, talking with Yellowstone, talking with the hoteliers here, demand is still coming. We are still on point to have an amazing year this year.”

And Buck noted that next year should be back to normal when it comes to airline traffic in Cody.

“I don’t imagine that we’ll have trouble getting it back once there’s pilots to fly on planes,” he said.

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Yellowstone Actor Cole Hauser To Lead Cody’s Stampede Parade

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Cole Hauser, a star in the television show “Yellowstone,” will serve as grand marshal for the Cody Stampede Parade on July 4.

Stampede Parade officials announced this week that Hauser had agreed to headline the annual parade, sparking a storm of social media commentary.

“This is the best news I’ve heard all year,” commented one Facebook user.

Mack Frost, president of the Stampede Parade Committee, told Cowboy State Daily that Hauser’s appearance comes thanks to his association with a Cody resident.

“(Cody resident) Jim Dager is associated with Cole Hauser in the Special Operations Warrior Foundation,” said Mack Frost, president of the Stampede Parade Committee. “Cole has recently become a member of the board, and Jim Dager has been one of their ambassadors.”

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides support for the families of fallen members of special operations forces.

Frost said one of the members of the Stampede Parade Committee who knew of Dager’s association with Hauser asked if Hauser might consider serving as grand marshal for this year’s parade.

“Cole is coming down here at Jim’s invitation to attend a benefit dinner (for the Warrior Foundation) that Jim is going to hold at his place,” Frost said.

“And as long as he was going to be here, they asked him if he would be willing to do the stint as our grand marshal. He said ‘You bet, be happy to do it.’ He just asked us to keep it quiet until about now,” he said.

Hauser’s leading role in “Yellowstone,” set in Montana on a fictitious ranch in the Yellowstone National Park region, has brought him into the spotlight, although his family background is one of Hollywood royalty.

His mother, Cass Warner, is the granddaughter of film mogul Harry Warner, a co-founder of Warner Bros.; his father is actor Wings Hauser, who appeared in television shows including “Murder, She Wrote” and “Roseanne,” and his paternal grandfathers were Hollywood screenwriters.

Social media has been buzzing about the news since it was announced at a chamber luncheon on Monday. 

“So excited! We will be there for sure,” wrote one Facebook user.

“Might have to change our holiday for this!” wrote another.

Frost said that Hauser won’t be making any additional public appearances once his stint as grand marshal is over, but the thousands of people who line up each year to see the parade will be able to get a glimpse of the famous actor.

Hauser’s credits also include roles in the films “School Ties,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Hart’s War,” “Tears of the Sun,” and “2 Fast 2 Furious,” prior to his very popular turn as the character “Rip” in the Paramount series “Yellowstone.”

Frost pointed out that there hasn’t been a celebrity grand marshal in the parade for a few years now.

“The last celebrities we had were (Robert) Taylor and his sidekick (Adam Bartley, both actors in the TV series Longmire),” said Frost. “They were the last celebrities we had,” and that was in 2017.

Other grand marshals of previous Cody Stampede Parades include Chuck Yeager, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, champion bullfighter Dusty Tuckness, Wilford Brimley, Dennis Weaver and Steven Seagal.

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Cody Builds Six 150mph Wind-Proof Geodesic Domes

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Cody is a western town. 

Every step through the community reveals a town steeped in western history — including the Chamber of Commerce building modeled after the home of western showman William “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

So a collection of clear geodesic domes poses a stark contrast to the rustic log cabin the rest beside.

The other-worldly “Cody Visitor Center Domes” are the result of efforts by the Park County Travel Council to create attractive public spaces and entice visitors to stay in Cody a little longer. 

“We’re always looking for ways to keep people more overnights in Cody-Yellowstone,” said Ryan Hauck, the executive director for the Park County Travel Council (PCTC). “Our goal is to always try to bring people either in shoulder season, or get them to come for multiple nights, or whatever that looks like.”

One way to do that, Hauck said, is to create more evening activities, which encourage visitors to stay more than one night. 

The domes that have taken up residence on the Chamber’s property will allow people to gather outside in the evenings and remain sheltered from the elements.

“I kind of envisioned, maybe we have a food truck night once a month, or something like that,” Hauck said. “They honestly work perfectly for food trucks. Also, a lot of destinations do what’s called a restaurant week, in which maybe in a shoulder season we could feature restaurants every day for a week straight.”

The domes also encourage the use of outdoor public spaces, which Hauck said is how the idea for the project came up in the first place.

“I think it was the WCDA (Wyoming Community Development Authority) that has a grant for public spaces that comes out every single year,” he said. “And they ran a study to see what communities really need public spaces, and honestly, Cody came up as one of the top ones in all of Wyoming that really need public spaces.” 

“There’s just not a lot of places where people can go to hang out, and enjoy what we have, other than a few places downtown,” he added.



Hauck said the project was funded with federal money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act or “CARES” and to that end, addressed social distancing concerns.

“This does give another option to enjoy a public space in a COVID friendly way if that’s something that people are actively looking for,” Hauck said. “And people still are actively looking for those options.”

In deciding to utilize the CARES Act money for this project, Hauck said local leaders supported the idea completely.

“These were federal dollars for destinations like us, and everybody else throughout the state, to help us recover,” he said. 

A company called HypeDome provided the materials, which Hauck said should withstand all that the Wyoming weather can throw at them, from sub-zero winter temperatures and snow to the state’s ever-present wind.

“Also, we do live in Wyoming, and we have wind here,” he said. “And so, going off memory here, I believe we had to have a structure that could withstand 85-mile-an-hour wind and 150-mile-an-hour gusts up to three seconds. And these can do that.”

Hauck pointed out that these permanent structures are perfect setups for social media posts.

“People are going to be looking for that ‘Instagrammable’ moment, just like they have been for the last few years,” he said. “And they’re going to look awesome. I think it’s going to be something that will help draw people in that way.”

But he pointed out that the project isn’t quite finished yet.

“There are going to be some accessories like cement tables, vases, things like that,” Hauck said. 

“Every single one of them will also have rope lights around the base of them, and fairy lights all throughout the top part of the dome.” He continued. “So you know, at dusk and nighttime, they’re going to look pretty phenomenal.” 

The chamber asks that users finish up in the domes by 10 p.m., but at this point, there are no locks to keep people out.

Hauck added that there is no plan to ever charge to use the domes.

“Whether it’s locals that want to enjoy the outdoors and stay away from the 60-mile-an hour wind, or it’s tourists looking for that fun Instagrammable moment – or if they just want a fun place where they could stop and read a book or eat a quick lunch before they head into the park. It’s an option, really, for anybody and everybody,” he said.

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Some $1.18 Million Worth Of Art Sold At Cody’s Buffalo Bill Art Show

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When the gavel dropped on the final piece of artwork at the 40th annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale, nearly $1.18 million worth of art had been sold.

The Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale benefits the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This event was held in conjunction with By Western Hands’ exhibit for Western Functional Art during the annual weeklong celebration of the arts known as Rendezvous Royale. 

“It is without a doubt the most successful shoulder season event bringing hundreds of people to Cody each year,” organizers said.

They called last week’s events in Cody a success, saying that, while the 2021 season looked different, they were “extremely grateful to be back in the tent and back in person.”

Produced by the Cody chamber, the art show generated more than $1.5 million in gross revenue. While in-person attendance was limited, hundreds of patrons, artists and community members enjoyed a variety of art-related events throughout the week, culminating with the annual Quick Draw Saturday morning. 

The live auction’s highest selling work went to Tucker Smith’s work “Glacier Carved,” which featured mountain sheep and sold for $65,000. Pieces were sold online with the LiveAuctioneers platform, through phone bidding and in-person bidding at the 15,000 square foot tent.

Chamber CEO Tina Hoebelheinrich praised her team and its partners at the Center of the West.

“We truly could not have pulled this off if not for the tenacity and dedication of the best art show director in the West, Kathy Thompson, the volunteers who came from Nevada, Utah and Washington to participate as well as the loyal volunteers from Cody who show up year after year,”  Hoebelheinrich said. “Workforce became an issue for our tent and food vendors, so a tremendous thank you to the facilities team at the Center of the West who never rested and helped us overcome every challenge.”

A total of 110 contemporary Western artists were invited to participate in the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale — hailing from Wyoming to New York to Australia and offering works relating to the land, people and wildlife of the American West. Works ranged from oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, sculptures, ceramics and mixed media.

Judges of Annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale remarked on high caliber of artwork

The 2021 jurors were:

• Jan and Bruce Eldredge, former Executive Director and CEO of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West,

• Donna Poulton, art consultant, author, and former Curator of Art of the American West at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and

• Tylee Abbott, head of the Department of American Art at Christie’s Auction House in New York City.

The judges praised this year’s selections overall, with Bruce Eldredge declaring the show to be “of exceptional quality.” He said it stood out especially for the works of art on paper, which “show a mastery of working in watercolor, pastel, charcoal, and collage” — mediums that Jan Eldredge said are “always unforgiving.” 

The Spirit of the Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale Award

This award recognizes the artwork that is most representative of the show in terms of location, history, and the greatness and grandeur embodied by the “spirit” of the American West. The judges awarded this honor to “South Fork Wanderers,” a 32- by 45-inch oil painting by Mark Kelso.

Bruce Eldredge said the painting perfectly embodies the “location, greatness, and grandeur” defined in the award criteria, and all judges agreed.

The judges selected “The Fence Inspector” by T. Allen Lawson as the two-dimensional artwork of exceptional execution and craftsmanship. Tylee Abbott called the 14- by 14-inch oil painting “a whisper of a Western winter landscape.”

Poulton lauded the artist for his color work on a diminutive canvas, saying that “not all artists could accomplish such a small-scale snapshot with such a limited palette.”

Three-Dimensional Award

The judges selected Joshua Tobey’s sculpture “Stepping Stone” as the three-dimensional artwork of exceptional execution and craftsmanship. This patinated bronze stands 55 by 18 by 21 inches.

Abbot called Tobey’s piece “a combination of accuracy, engineering, originality, and playfulness” and Bruce Eldredge remarked that “the artist captured both the heron and the turtle in an exceptional way.”

Judges’ Awards of Excellence

A mark of the show’s overall quality, the judges decided to recognize four additional artists for their excellence in design and execution.

• Campbell Dosch, “Apsaalooke,” bronze, 37 by 18 by 12 inches.

• Dolan Geiman, “Midnight Moonlight,” vintage paper collage, 46 by 36 inches.

• Paul Rhymer, “Chicken Hawk in Repose,” bronze, 66 by 18 by 18 inches.

• Kyle Sims, “Glider,” oil, 16 by 32 inches.  

People’s Choice Award

Members of the public who visited the Live Auction gallery cast votes for their favorite piece of artwork. Heide Presse received the most votes for her 40- by 30-inch oil painting “Tall Tales.”

Gilly Fales Fine Art Scholarship Award

The Gilly Fales Fine Art Scholarship Award is a local scholarship opportunity provided by the Gilly Fales Memorial Foundation for the Arts, which seeks to empower young artists ages 18-30 who have a passion for the arts. Olivia Christensen received the honor for her 40- by 30- inch oil painting, “Heart of Wyoming.”

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“Don’t California My Cody” Billboard Stirs Controversy

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

To some people in Cody, Californians have a bad reputation.

In fact, many new residents who have moved to Cody from the Golden State introduce themselves to locals by apologizing first when they are asked where they’ve moved from. 

Some have received less-than-enthusiastic responses from Wyomingites who have had negative interactions with newcomers from the west coast – many of whom have differing ideologies (i.e. liberal ideals) from the conservative norms of Park County.

A billboard that was put up in Cody recently epitomizes that divide. It reads, “Don’t Calilfornia Our Cody,” and it greets drivers as they enter the town from the east. 

The billboard was erected on property belonging to a longtime Cody businessman, Ron Hill, and was commissioned and paid for by Blackwater, the private military company.  And it’s received some criticism – but also some strong support.

You never know when or where an argument will break out. Warring factions appear in-person, on social media, on talk shows, and in the newspapers.

This past week, the local newspaper was a popular location for dissent.

In a letter to the editor to the Cody Enterprise, Cat White (a California resident who says she spends significant time in Cody and has long ties to the state) wrote, “You may not agree with politics, but you cannot deny that without Californians visiting, the people of Cody would not have the jobs that our tourism affords. Many members of my family benefit from this who work in the service and hospitality industry.” 

She went on to say the billboard made Cody citizens appear “childish”.

A rebuttal letter from the owner of the property on which the billboard stands, Ron Hill, explained that as a landowner, he has rights to rent his billboard to whomever he chooses, and said White’s letter, which included a plea to the public to put pressure on the landowner to take the billboard down, was in itself an attack on free speech.

“There is zero tolerance for attacking the fundamental foundation of what makes our community and our country great – the principles of private property rights, free market business rights and the freedom of speech,” Hill wrote.

In a response to the original letter, Cody resident Schelly Jordan explained that from her perspective, the sign is “a reminder to Californians that they left their former home state and come here for a reason. Probably several.” 

Many comments upheld Jordan’s views, some using inflammatory language, while others remained restrained, while still supporting the idea that “California values” have no place in Wyoming.

In the past week, vandals have painted obscene images on the billboard, similar to graffiti that was sprayed on an anti-abortion billboard north of Cody last month. 

Response on the Facebook page “Cody Chit Chat” condemned the vandalism, many deriding the Cody mayor, school board, and other so-called “blue” elected officials. Scott Weber, Cody businessman, wrote, “We will NOT allow “Act Blue” to take hold by any means.”

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