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39 New Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Seen In Wyoming, Active Cases Up By 1

in Coronavirus/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

New confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in 10 Wyoming counties on Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases seen since the illness was first detected in Wyoming to 1,545.

However, the Wyoming Department of Health reported on Monday that the number of patients to recover during that same period grew by 40 to total 1,412, bringing the number of active cases in the state to 472 — an increase of one since Sunday.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, subtracting the number of recoveries among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

Laramie County had the highest number of active cases on Monday at 84, while Fremont County had 65. Natrona County had 55 active cases; Sweetwater County had 45; Park had 41; Campbell had 37; Teton and Uinta had 30; Big Horn had 18; Albany had 17; Lincoln had 16; Sheridan had 12; Carbon had eight; Washakie had four; Sublette had three; Converse, Goshen and Weston had two, and Johnson had one. Crook, Hot Springs, Niobrara and Platte counties had no active cases.

The number of active cases included 395 among patients with confirmed coronavirus cases and 77 with probable cases.

New confirmed coronavirus cases were reported in Fremont, Goshen, Laramie, Natrona, Sheridan, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton, Uinta and Weston counties Monday. Sweetwater had the highest number of new cases at 12.

The number of probable cases increased by three Monday to total 359 since the pandemic began. A probable case is defined as one where a patient shows coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the illness. 

Recoveries seen since mid-March have been seen among 1,131 among patients with confirmed cases and 281 among those with probable cases.

There have been 21 deaths among Wyoming residents attributed to the coronavirus. However, two of those patients were living in Colorado at the time they were diagnosed with the illness and they were not counted as confirmed cases in Wyoming.

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Wyomingites Receive More Than $5M In Unclaimed Property

in News
5274

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than 8,000 checks totaling $5.13 million were issued to current and former Wyoming residents from the state’s Unclaimed Property Division of the State Treasurer’s Office this year, the office reported.

State Treasurer Curt Meier, in a news release Monday said the number of checks issued by the division increased by 32.5% over the previous record set one year prior.

Meier said an investment into new software at the end of 2018 was one of the main reasons for the spike.

“This was our first full fiscal year utilizing the new technology,” Meier said in the release. “We were able to operate more efficiently and, as a result, more of our citizens were able to recapture their money.” 

Although the amount of checks issued was a record-breaker, unclaimed property administrator Jeff Robertson said the amount of money paid out was actually lower than in previous years.

“We were disappointed that payments didn’t increase along with the increase in approved claims,” Robertson said in the release. “We just didn’t have as many large-value claims as we did the previous year. We had quite a few claims paying out hundreds of dollars, but the number of claims paying five or six digits was down considerably.” 

Robertson added that comparing the claims paid in 2020 to 2019, there were only 74 checks that exceeded $10,000 this year. However, 143 checks issued in 2019 exceeded the $10,000 mark. 

In 2020, Wyoming received $9.5 million in unclaimed property while paying out $5.1 million to 8,062 recipients. For 2019, the State received $9.1 million while paying out $6.9 million to 6,084 individuals and businesses. 

Property is turned over to the state when a business, agency or governmental entity owes property, typically money or stocks, to someone and for whatever reason cannot locate the owner for a specified time period. 

Meier said the state is still holding approximately $91 million in unclaimed property, but that it’s easier than ever for individuals to claim their money. 

“We encourage all citizens to go to our website at mycash.wyo.gov and see if they are entitled to any of these funds,” Meier said. “There is a two-minute video on the left side of the page that explains how to make a claim through the website.” 

To make a valid claim, owners will need to provide information about themselves and may need to submit official documents. This could be as simple as a copy of a driver’s license if the property is in your name, but if someone is claiming as an heir or a business, additional documents may be requested. 

Wyoming law requires the state to hold unclaimed property in perpetuity until the rightful owner is able to claim it. 

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Dahl Erickson: Saying Goodbye To The Mascot Doesn’t Mean Dropping The Team

in Column/sports
5272

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By Dahl Erickson, SVI Media

The world is a funny place. And sometimes funny actually means terrifying, or bewildering or completely unpredictable. Take your pick at any of those adjectives for 2020 because things are going to be whatever you didn’t expect them to be.

I’ve written on potential name changes for sports teams before. Many times actually. I’ve even compiled lists of potential replacements should things go that direction locally.

But before I get to that part of the discussion I wanted to expound a bit on the impending name change of the Washington Redskins. And yes, it is changing.

The second that organization released a statement saying they were examining the name, it was over. Corporate sponsors, big ones, made it clear they would like the organization to change the name and on top of decades of push-back by some and despite a fist-shaking refusal by others, it’s happening.

My own opinion on using Indian imagery as a mascot has evolved over a lifetime and it’s hard to encompass that into just a few words.

I was born in Afton, Wyoming, the youngest of six kids, all of which loved sports. The local high school team, which my four brothers competed on, were the Braves.

By five years old it didn’t take much for me to latch onto the Washington Redskins as my favorite professional football team. That was in 1981. 

At that time as a high school football program in Wyoming, you weren’t just going to pop on the internet and design a new logo and have them send it to you overnight for a cheap cost. Getting helmet stickers was a process and choices were limited.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t other helmet stickers for the Star Valley Braves. From a star logo, to the crossed tomahawks, to the lightning “SV” and others, there were different attempts.

But the sticker of the Redskins stuck in the 1980s for the most part with the aforementioned handful of exceptions, it was the symbol of the program.

Growing up, the term Redskins meant winning. From the time I adopted the team in my little tiny brain, the team went to the Super Bowl four times and won three of them by the time I started high school.

Joe Gibbs, the head coach of the team often used the phrase, “looking for true Redskins” in his search for players who would put team above self and sacrifice for the good of the franchise and the community.

That’s what I always felt the team meant.

But sometimes even in moments of blissful ignorance, we can be wrong.

Take, for example, the former mascot costume for SVHS. The head was over-sized with a giant nose and dark black skin and a scowl. I never gave it a second thought.

But there are those that were bothered by it and honestly I see why. It’s an over-dramatization of an entire group of people that is being winnowed down for entertainment purposes. Again, I’m not trying to explain anything to anyone, I’m just telling you my own personal journey.

The mascot costume went away. I’m not exactly sure when, but it did. In 1992 came the first of many lawsuits against the Redskins asking them to do away with the name. Threatening boycotts and who knows how many legal trademark court cases since then.

More recently, Teton High School, less than two hours away, has done away with their Redskins mascot usage. They are now the Teton Timberwolves.

In 2012, I wrote about how schools in the State of Oregon had a five-year grace period to phase out Indian imagery or face the reality of having their funds from the state legislature affected. As of 2017 that went into affect although some bills were introduced based on schools’ ability to garner approval from any of the nine tribes who call the state home.

In Wyoming there are many schools who have a majority of students who have Native American lineage. Some of those schools use that imagery, others do not.

Some people are incredibly fired up by the mere mention of changing any of these names. Make no mistake, this is a conversation that could well be coming to our very houses.

The Redskins, Chiefs, Indians, Blackhawks and Braves are the giant-sized dominoes that are starting to fall. When or if that gets to the high school level in Wyoming anytime soon? I don’t know.

And I guess the difference is, I don’t care. I used to be what I felt was being very “democratic” when it came to such changes. The majority rules.

I also used to be very defensive about this conversation.

Now, I have native friends who are very offended by this type of imagery and I have other friends who have roots who still love the names.

The important thing to remember to me is that history does not change. The team and programs that we grew up loving are still the teams and programs that we loved. They just might be getting a different wardrobe.

The Washington Redskins used to be the Boston Braves. The Star Valley Braves used to be the Star Valley Cheesemakers. Before that, they were the Star Valley Athletic Club. The program was still started in 1928 and is one of the most successful in Wyoming prep history. That won’t change.

A high school sports program should reflect one’s community and their ability to love each other, back each other up, show pride in their hard work and on game day show other communities that they don’t do it as well as we do.

By the way, my two favorite concepts should things move that direction at the local level? The Star Valley Cutthroats and the Star Valley Fighting Elk.

Keep the colors, the fight song and everything else. Maybe you have a different suggestion. Maybe this topic makes you madder than a hornet.

But in a year where we are just hoping to have sports, the names of what we refer to the teams seems more secondary than ever.

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Gordon Approves $250M In Budget Cuts, $600M To Go

in Mark Gordon/News
Gov Gordon Budget
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon has approved a number of cuts to state agency budgets totaling more than $250 million, nearly 10% of the budget for the state’s main bank account.

The cuts, announced in a news release Monday, were necessitated by projections that the state’s revenues in the coming two years would face a shortfall of almost $1 billion for the “general fund” and another $500 million for school funding.

Budget reductions will include state employees losing jobs, mandatory furloughs, a reduction in major maintenance spending and the consolidation of human resources personnel across state agencies, Gordon said.

“This is an incredibly difficult task but we must respond to the financial circumstances the state is facing,” Gordon said in the release. “These cuts will impact families across the state, will affect the services we provide and will have an effect on dollars that flow into the private sector.”

Gordon approved 10% cuts for most state agencies, boards and commissions. The Department of Health, which has the state’s largest budget, will see a 9% cut, totaling $90 million.

Gordon stressed the impacts of the budget cuts will be felt outside of state government. These cuts include significant reductions to state government dollars that enter the private sector in the form of contracts and mean that some services available to the state’s seniors, disabled and low-income residents will be reduced or cut entirely.

“The repercussions to our communities and the businesses of our state are significant,” Gordon said. “While they are necessary, these cuts weaken our ability to deliver the critical services and functions of our state government that Wyomingites depend on.”

Gordon has also instituted a mandatory weekly furlough day for a six-month period beginning August. This will apply to executive branch employees with a high pay rate.

The governor also signed an executive order on Friday that instructed the director of the Department of Administration and Information to coordinate the immediate move of all human resources personnel from various departments across the state to the department. The process is expected to take several months and will lead to a reduction in the state’s human resources personnel.

The budget cuts still leave a forecasted budget shortfall of more than $600 million, Gordon said. He has directed agencies to prepare preliminary proposals to cut an additional 10% from their budgets and submit those concepts to him.

Gordon previously stated that he was considering a range of options to fund an appropriate level of government services, since merely cutting services won’t be enough to address the entire shortfall.

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Sheridan Family With Special Needs Child Stranded In Denver After Car Stolen

in Crime/News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Sheridan family has been stranded in Denver since Saturday after a thief stole their wheelchair-accessible van.

The family of Lane Fischer reached out to Contact7, a part of the Denver Channel, over the weekend to ask for help. The family traveled to Denver for a doctor’s appointment for their young son Lane, who has Down Syndrome.

The family woke up Saturday morning to discover their 1996 Chevrolet van had been stolen, along with much of Lane’s equipment, including “two vents and a vent stand and an oxygen concentrator,” as well as five oxygen tanks.

“It is heartbreaking that someone would even think to take, even if it wasn’t his, any handicapped vehicle,” Yvonne Fischer said. “I just don’t understand.”

The vehicle was stolen from a hotel parking lot in east Denver sometime Friday night. The family uses it regularly to travel for Lane’s appointments in both Colorado and Montana.

Without the van and equipment, the family is unable to return home to Sheridan. They have also been unsuccessful in renting a van for the time being.

“At any point, [Lane] could stop breathing,” Yvonne Fischer said.

People looking to help the Fischer family with donations can follow this link, and use the drop down menu to choose “Help Replace Stolen Handicap Van.”

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Gun Advocate To Appeal University Of Wyoming Firearm Ban Ruling

in News
The gun as a tool
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By Ike Fredregill and Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

An Evanston man charged with trespass for carrying a firearm onto University of Wyoming property will appeal an state district court ruling confirming the university’s ability to ban firearms on its property, said his attorney.

“Our position is that the Wyoming Legislature preempted the regulation of firearms in Wyoming,” said Jason Tangeman, the attorney for Lyle Williams. “As a result, any governmental entity — city, town or county and including UW — would have no authority to regulate firearms.”

Williams, a delegate to the 2018 Wyoming Republican Convention in Laramie, was cited for trespass after he was asked to leave the university’s conference center by UW police because he was wearing a handgun, which is not allowed under the university’s regulations.

The case went to circuit court in Laramie, and Williams sued the university in district court, seeking to have the regulation ruled invalid. District Judge Tori Kricken dismissed Williams’ case, and he appealed to Wyoming’s Supreme Court, which overturned Kricken’s decision on procedural grounds.Williams’ case returned to circuit court, where he again challenged the regulation on several grounds, including one that the Wyoming Firearms Freedom Act, initially adopted by the Legislature in 1995 and modified in 2010, forbids local governments from regulating firearms.

Williams also alleged the university’s regulation of firearms would be contrary to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.The circuit court asked the district court to rule on the challenge, and Kricken rejected Williams’ arguments.

Kricken ruled that the Firearms Freedom Act refers only to the regulation of weapons manufactured in Wyoming.

“To the extent that Mr. Williams questions the Legislature’s intent (or effect) in implementing the Wyoming Firearms Freedom Act and its specifically tailored language related to firearms manufactured in Wyoming, this court finds the language logical in light of the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate in the realm of interstate commerce,” Kricken wrote.She also ruled that the university is “an alter ego of the State of Wyoming” and as such is authorized to regulate firearms.

Tangeman said Kricken’s ruling relied on an error in state statute, which appears to include — mistakenly — the original preemption statute in the Wyoming Firearms Freedom Act.

“If you include the original preemption statute,” he said, “it leads to some absurd results.” 

As written, Kricken ruled by the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law, Tangeman explained. Kricken also rejected Williams’ allegations that the university’s regulation violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution are also flawed, ruling that there are limits to the Second Amendment’s reach.

“Simply stated, the regulation and prohibition of the possession of firearms in sensitive places falls outside the scope of the Second Amendment,” she wrote. “…Parents who send their children to a university have a reasonable expectation that the university will maintain a campus free of foreseeable harm.”

Williams argued because the conference center was being used for a private event — the GOP convention — it was no longer a “sensitive place” where a ban on firearms would be allowed.

“To so conclude would open schools and universities to an ever-changing (and vague) regulatory scheme dependent upon the specific use of their education grounds at any given time,” she wrote.

Tangeman said appealing to the Wyoming Supreme Court would help determine whether UW’s firearms restriction is constitutional.

“There’s case laws in this country that say if a firearms regulation on campus is narrowly tailored to buildings and sensitive areas on campus, they could very well pass constitutional scrutiny,” he explained.

In this case, however, Tangeman said Williams was attending a convention at a location owned by UW, but across the street from campus; thus, outside a “sensitive area.”

“The way (UW’s) regulation is written, it would apply to any (of the university’s) real property in the State of Wyoming,” he said. “Theoretically, its firearms regulation would apply statewide across any of its numerous properties.”

If applied statewide without specifying a direct tie to student safety, Tangeman said UW’s regulation, which was upheld by Kricken’s ruling, could violate Williams Second Amendment rights.

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Jogger Bounces Off Grizzly While Running; Both Tumble Down Trail And Separate

in Grizzly Bear Attacks/News
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We haven’t seen a grizzly encounter like this so far this year.

The Glacier National Park Service reports that a jogger was running with two others on the Huckleberry Lookout Trail when she ran into a young grizzly — literally — on Saturday morning.

She not only collided into the bear, she then bounced off the bear and both of them went tumbling down the trail together.

“Once separated, the bear ran off,” the Park Service said. 

The woman received minor injuries to her head and arm but was able to walk back to the trail, meet back up with her friends, and then drove off to the hospital in Kalispell where she received some treatment.

It truly is unfortunate that there wasn’t a trail-cam that recorded the incident as it would seem difficult to accidentally run into a bear. Even young grizzlies are quite large.

Further, the site of a grizzly bear interlocked with a person tumbling down a trail would also be quite fascinating to see.

Then, once the tumbling ends, seeing the bear come-to and running away would be engaging to watch.

Of course, the speculation is fun because both the jogger and the bear ended up OK.

Regardless, the Park Service re-issued a press release Saturday reminding people that grizzly bears are dangerous — even the kind that bounce off joggers.

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More Than $80 Million Distributed From State COVID Aid Program

in Coronavirus/Economy/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

More than 900 Wyoming businesses received more than $25 million in one day from the state’s Business Interruption Stipend program, according to state figures.

Figures on the Wyoming transparency page showed that on Wednesday, 915 companies received $25.3 million, bringing the total distributed under the program since it launched in June to almost $80.5 million.

The total number of Wyoming businesses to receive assistance under the program so far is 3,191, with applications still under review from about another 1,000 businesses. The deadline for submitting applications was July 2.

The Business Interruption Stipend program was one of three approved by the Legislature this year to help Wyoming businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting business slowdown. Funding for the programs comes from $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus assistance funds sent to the state.

The Business Interruption Stipend program is designed specifically for businesses employing 50 or fewer people.

The maximum grant available under the program is $50,000 and as of Wednesday, 831 businesses had received the maximum, many of them restaurants, bars and hotels.

The state’s other two relief programs are scheduled to start later this month.

One program, the Coronavirus Business Relief Stipend, will provide up to $300,000 for companies that employ fewer than 100 people that were forced to shut down or curtail operations because of state health orders issued to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The other, The Coronavirus Mitigation Fund, is designed to compensate businesses for expenses they faced directly related to the coronavirus, such as the purchase of cleaning products, personal protective equipment and the cost of hiring new employees to comply with public health orders.

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18 New Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Confirmed on Sunday

in Coronavirus/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s total confirmed coronavirus case count since the illness was first detected in the state topped the 1,500 mark on Sunday with the reporting of 18 new cases.

The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, reported the addition of 18 cases pushed the total number of confirmed cases seen since mid-March to 1,506.

New cases were reported in Campbell, Fremont, Laramie, Natrona, Sweetwater, Teton and Uinta counties, the department said, with Natrona posting the highest gain at four new cases.

As of Sunday, Fremont County still had seen the most confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began at 344; Larmaie County had 215; Uinta County had 164; Natrona County had 139; Sweetwater had 128; Teton 125; Park had 75; Campbell had 71; Albany had 44; Washakie had 38; Lincoln had 34; Big Horn had 26; Sheridan had 21; Converse and Johnson had 17; Carbon had 16; Hot Springs had nine; Crook and Goshen had seven; Sublette had four; Platte had three, and Niobrara and Weston had one.

The Health Department’s confirmed case total reflects all cases seen since coronavirus was first detected in the state March 12. It does not take into account recoveries or deaths attributed to the illness.

The number of recoveries seen among all patients infected since the pandemic began reached 1,372 Sunday, an increase of 11 from Saturday figures. The number included recoveries among 1,096 people with laboratory-confirmed cases and 276 among those with probable cases. Recovery is defined as occurring when a patient has gone three days without a fever and has seen improvement in respiratory problems.

The number of probable cases on Sunday was 356. A probable case is one where a patient has coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with a person with a confirmed case but has not been tested for the illness.

The number of active cases around the state was 471 on Sunday, including 391 patients with confirmed cases of coronavirus and 80 with probable cases.

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Riverton, Wyoming Balloon Rally Celebrates 40 Years

in News/Tourism
5248

The Riverton Rendezvous celebrates 40 years this July and it all starts July 11.  For the main events watch 30 hot air balloons take off from the CWC soccer fields around 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday July 18 and 19.   

The action happens quickly so get there early.  Spectators aren’t allowed to walk around the field this year, but you will still see plenty of colorful action.

With names like Sapphire Sunrise, Diamond Eyes, Confetti Pebbles, and Wild Thing you can imagine the dizzying display of colors. 

And the pilots come from all over  – Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Illinois and Wyoming.  Keep your eyes out for Beagle Maximus, the Beagle balloon.

Action Packed

Start the fun July 11th with Happy Days.  Music, fun and food will all be Downtown Riverton ending with a community street dance.  Start the Balloon Rally weekend with the Friday Night Rocky Mountain Car & Bike Night Cruise. The parade begins at 6 pm in the Sutherlands parking lot and ends in downtown Riverton for an epic street party.

Saturday after the balloon rally head to CWC South Lawn for the Annual Rocky Mountain Rebels Car & Bike Show from 8-4 pm.

Riverton Rendezvous Friday Night Cruise. Photo: Jennie Hutchinson

Riverton Rendezvous Friday Night Cruise. Photo: Jennie Hutchinson

Finish the evening with the Balloon Glow at the CWC soccer launch field at 8:30 pm and fireworks at Airport Hill at 10 pm.

Riverton Rendezvous is an action-packed weekend. Load up your family and take in the fun. Bring your lawn chair, camera and sunscreen.

Schedule

Saturday July 11

4-8 pm Riverton Happy Days- Sidwalk sales, kids activites, scavenger hunt, food trucks, chalk the walk, music jam and more.

8-11 pm Community Street Dance, Bar 10, Live Band Shuffle

Friday July 17

6 am Balloon Rally Media Day, CWC Launch Field

6 pm Friday Night Cruise Parade starts at Sutherlands and ends Downtown

Saturday, July 18

6 am Balloon Launch, CWC Launch Field

8-4 pm Car and Bike Show,  CWC South Lawn

8-4 pm Rocky Mountain Rebels AUTOCROSS, CWC South Lawn

8:30 pm Balloon Glow, CWC Launch Field

10 pm Fireworks, Airport Hill

Sunday, July 19

6 am Balloon Launch, CWC Launch Field

Please be mindful of others and some COVID-19 restrictions will apply.

For more information contact the Riverton Chamber of Commerce, 307-856-4801 or info@rivertonchamber.org

 Riverton Rendezvous Hot Air Balloon, Jennie Hutchinson

How it All Started

Riverton Rendezvous began in 1981 when the community was looking for a special event to commemorate its 75th anniversary. Bob Peck, publisher of the Riverton Ranger at that time, asked his son, George for ideas and he suggested a balloon rally. The Riverton Rendezvous was born.

Other events were scheduled and soon there was Day in the Park, Rail to Trails Music on the River Walk, Rocky Mountain Rebels Car & Bike show and the Red Neck BBQ.

Some famous people have graced the rally with their presence including Maxie Anderson who was the first balloonist to cross the Atlantic Ocean and the first to attempt an around the world flight.

Malcom Forbes brought his ‘Chateau de Balleroy”, a replica of the French Museum in France. This rally continues to be a favorite of hot air balloon pilots because of our stellar weather and the people of Riverton who welcome the pilots each year.

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