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Travel Wyoming: Wyoming History On Ice In Store For Cheyenne Visitors

in Column/Travel/Travel Wyoming
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A depiction of Wyoming historical highlights on ice awaits people who visit Cheyenne’s Ice and Events Center this weekend.

On Saturday, the center’s 23 ice skating students will put on their annual performance, this year titled “Skating Through Wyoming: A Historical Ice Skating Musical.”

“It’s kind of a yearly thing we do to show off what the skaters have learned in the year,” said Taylor Bassett, the Ice and Events Center’s program and event coordinator. “The coaches thought that because of the historic events Wyoming celebrated this year and last year, we would do some Wyoming things and then make it more musical and theatrical.”

The center’s students, ranging in age from 4 to 18, will take part in performances depicting important points in Wyoming’s history, such as women winning the right to vote.

The students at the center, which is involved in the national “Learn to Skate” program, will perform in groups, as duos and as soloists in putting on the show, Bassett said.

“We’re starting from the beginning, with Native Americans and the history with them and working our way up to more modern day stuff,” she said.

Similar programs are held each year as the center nears the end of its ice season, Bassett said.

Doors at the Ice and Events Center will open for the performance at 6 p.m., with the show scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Admission is $5.

For more information, visit Cheyenne’s events page at 

https://www.cheyenneevents.org/e/skating-through-wyoming-a-historical-ice-skating-musical-96738687017/

Travel Wyoming: Western Wyoming Sportsman’s Expo in Rock Springs

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A plethora of items designed to make the great outdoors even greater will be on display this weekend in Rock Springs.

The Western Wyoming Sportsman’s Expo will be held Friday through Sunday at the Sweetwater Events Complex.

The expo, now in its fifth year, features vendors showing good such as off-road vehicles, boats and campers, along with fishing and hunting equipment, cookware and camping equipment.

“We also have some western decor,” said Debi Knezovich, whose company Wyoming Home Show is putting on the expo. “There will also be some antler jewelry. It’s not just ATVs and campers and guns and knives.”

Kenzovich has put on other shows throughout the year in Rock Springs, such as the Wyoming Home Show and Home and Holiday Show, for 24 years.

The Sportsman’s Expo came about as recognition of what people do for fun in the state, Knezovich said.

“It’s kind of our lifestyle up in this area and that’s why we live in Wyoming,” she said.

In addition to the equipment and gear on display, several outfitters from Alaska and Canada will be attending the expo, Knezovich said.

“So if you want to plan a hunting trip, there will be outfitters on-site to answer those questions,” she said.

Booths with groups offering educational information will also be set up, as will a “mini golf course” where people can test golfing equipment.

The expo runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit the event’s website at https://wyominghomeshow.com/3.

Sundance Winter Festival This Weekend: Racing on Skis, Barstools, Inner Tubes

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The residents of Sundance have figured out what to do when Mother Nature gives them an abundance of snow.

They use it to race on skis, inner tubes, and even barstools.

The Sundance Winter Festival on Saturday is a mix of activities aimed at creating a little fun in the middle of Wyoming’s long winters, said Reggie Gaylord, who created the event with some of his friends.

“It’s kind of a mixture of what others do out there,” he said. “You know how winters are in Wyoming, they’re cold and boring. We were trying to come up with a fun idea to bring life to Sundance.”

The best known event of the festival, now in its sixth year, is skijoring, where a skier is pulled by a horse and rider along a snow-covered track featuring jumps, slalom gates and rings to be captured by the skier.

In Sundance, after the opening rounds are of competition are completed, the track is changed to make things more challenging, Gaylord said.

“We’ll start building that track on Thursday and by Saturday afternoon, we’ll wipe the track clear and build it again,” he said.

In barstool racing, competitors ride on a downhill track while seated on a barstool with skis attached. Each barstool racing team consists of two members — a rider and a person to push him or her at the top of the track. Competitors are encouraged to make unique sleds and wear costumes for the event.

“That’s all about the costumes and the entertainment,” Gaylord said. “We had some young guys from Laramie build a whole tugboat kind of thing with all-UW colors. We’ve even had saddles put on barstools.”

And what’s the use of having a skijoring course that’s used only for skijoring? The Sundance Winter Festival sees that course used as well for “wild horse and tube races.” 

Two people on inner tubes are pulled down the skijoring course — jumps and all — while carrying a cup of their favorite beverage. The winner is determined by the amount of liquid left in the cup at the end of the race.

All of the festival’s events are free to watch, Gaylord said. Food trucks and vendors will also be present.

Activities begin at 9 a.m. Saturday with skijoring and continue through the day. People wishing to register to compete in events can do so from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at Sundance’s Longhorn Saloon and Grill. Registration will continue at 7 a.m. Saturday.

For more information on the Sundance Winter Festival, visit the event’s website or its Facebook page.

Fly Tying: Ugly Bug Fly Shop Hosts Second Annual “Great Bug Battle”

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Ice may still cover many of Wyoming’s fishable waters, but that doesn’t mean the state’s fly fishermen can’t get a jump start on the year with a little practice tying flies.

And that’s just what the organizers of this year’s Great Bug Battle in Casper are offering up.

The Great Bug Battle, entering its second year, gives fly tyers a chance to compete in what organizers describe as an “Iron Chef” type of contest, where competitors will be asked to tie flies using unusual materials and under interesting situations.

One of last year’s competitions saw an estimated 30 tyers using materials from a dollar store to make flies, said Corey Lincoln, manager of The Ugly Bug Fly Shop, the Casper store that organizes the contest.

“We just bought a bunch of stuff from a dollar store, threw out out there on the table and they used stuff out of there to tie flies,” he said. “We don’t do it to be serious, we just want the time to get together and have some fun with it.”

The event will be held beginning at 7 p.m. Friday at Casper’s Frontier Brewery, where those attending will be able to partake in beer brewed specially for the occasion.

The night will see fly tyers taking part in five or six different competitions, Lincoln said, with Ugly Bug owner Blake Jackson setting the terms of the contests.

Winners will walk away with promotional materials provided by several different companies, such as fly boxes, a waterproof duffel bag and a reel.

Attendees, including those who just show up watch the action, will also be able to bid on an original piece of artwork by Ty Hallock, a fishing guide known for his one-of-a-kind drawings of wildlife using Sharpies.

Money raised through the auction will be donated to “Casting for a Cause,” an organization that arranges fishing trips for women with breast cancer.

Last year, some 30 to 40 people turned out to watch the competition and Lincoln said he was hoping for a similar turnout this year.

There is no entry fee for the contest or to watch.

“Just come, tip your bartender, drink some beer and have a good time,” Lincoln said.

For more information on the Great Bug Battle, visit the Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website at or see Ugly Bug’s Facebook page.

Encampment Hosts 34th Annual Sierra Madre Winter Carnival

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A plethora of unusual winter activities awaits those who travel to Encampment this weekend for the town’s annual Sierra Madre Winter Carnival.

The carnival on Friday and Saturday, entering its 34th year, features activities ranging from the artistic to the athletic, including a snowman painting contest , “human saucer bowling”, and snow-golf.

The event was launched to give area residents something to do during the winter months, said Doreen Harvey, Encampment’s clerk-treasurer.

“And to get people to our local businesses during the winter,” she said. “I would say we usually have more than 100 entrants (for different events), which is pretty good for a small town mid-winter event.”

People wishing to compete in “snowman painting” must register at Encampment’s Town Hall by noon Friday so judges know where around Encampment the various snowmen will be built.

Once built, the snowmen can be decorated in any way, but the decoration must involve paint, Harvey said — most often colored water. Competitors will have until noon Saturday to finish their entries.

“We’re looking for creativity,” she said. “We’re looking for things that are unusual.”

Also on Friday will be a “treasure hunt,” where participants will be given clues to solve and challenges to complete to claim the treasure.

On Saturday, after a pancake breakfast served by members of Encampment’s Veterans of Foreign Wars, sled races will begin at 10 a.m.

The races are open to preschool and grade school students, but a “build your own sled” competition, where homemade sleds will face off in a downhill race, will be open to anyone, Harvey said.

“We’ve seen some interesting things come down this hill over the years,” she said.

Likewise, the “human saucer bowling” will be open to preschool and elementary school students, although an open class will also be available for adults.

Each competitor will be given two runs to knock down as many pins — 2-liter pop bottles filled with sand — as possible.

“Kids just sit on that saucer and we have pins set up,” Harvey said. “Bowling rules apply. All the sledders will get two chances.”

Lunchtime will feature chili and bread cook-offs.

A snowmobile “sprint” will begin at 1:45 p.m., where snowmobilers will try to post the best time  traveling a city block. “Snow golf,” where golfers bring one club and try negotiate a snow-covered course, will begin at 2:15 p.m.

Activities wrap up at 7 p.m. with a casino night, open to adults only, at the Grand Encampment Opera House.

Admission to most events is free, although there is a charge for the pancake breakfast. For more information, visit the Carbon County Visitors Council

Saratoga Lake Ice Fishing Derby This Weekend

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Ice, fish and cash prizes will take center stage this weekend as one of Wyoming’s most notable ice fishing derbies — the Saratoga Lake Ice Fishing Derby — marks its 37th year.

From 600 to 800 anglers are expected to visit Saratoga this weekend for the Saratoga Lake Ice Fishing Derby, which will offer participants a number of ways to win prizes on Saturday and Sunday.

The derby began in the mid-1980s as a way to encourage winter tourism, said Stacy Crimmins, chief executive officer for the Saratoga-Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“A lot of things have changed from that original derby,” she said. “It has evolved into something just a little different, but something that is still a lot of fun.”

In its first days, the derby consisted of anglers trying to catch one of three trout that had been tagged and placed in Saratoga Lake. Anyone catching the tagged fish would claim the prize, however, in some years, the fish were not caught during the derby.

Thanks to the support of sponsors, the derby has since expanded its prizes to offer up cash awards for the largest three fish caught during the weekend and a $100 prize for the largest fish caught every hour of the derby.

“We still tag three fish so you can win up to $20,000,” Crimmins said. “You have a really good chance of winning some money. We’ve been told people like our derby because we spread the cash out.”

The derby even offers awards for anglers who catch suckers, a contest designed specifically to reduce the number of suckers in the lake.

“We pay for the largest sucker overall, the most suckers caught on Saturday and the most caught on Sunday,” Crimmins said. “We’re just trying to get them out of the lake. It seems to be working.”

A special derby will also be held for anglers under the age of 14, who can also win cash prizes for their catches.

All told, derby organizers will give away $6,000. Anyone catching one of the three tagged fish can win another $20,000, $10,000 or $5,000.

The derby runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The biggest fish captured during the weekend, determined by adding the length and girth, will be worth $2,000.

“We’ve had some winners brought in during the last couple hours of Sunday,” Crimmins said. “It’s a wide open tournament. You might think you’ve go the winner early Saturday morning and then the winner will be caught Sunday afternoon.”

The anglers catching the second- and third-largest fish will also win prizes.

The entry fee for the derby is $35 for adults and $10 for fishermen under the age of 14.

For more information on the derby, visit Saratoga-Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce or see its Facebook page.

Shoshoni to host annual all-women’s rabbit hunt on Saturday

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Shhh! Be vewy quiet! They’re hunting wabbit!

A longtime all-women’s hunting competition will enter its 41st year on Saturday as teams take part in the Wyoming Women’s 5-Shot Rabbit Hunt near Shoshoni.

The hunt has been around since the late 1970s and was created in direct response to Lander’s famous One-Shot Antelope Hunt, said Joan Eisemann, who has been involved with the event’s organization for many years.

“The Shoshoni Chamber of Commerce started it back when (Lander) had the One-Shot contest and wouldn’t let women hunt,” she said. “So they started the Shoshoni Chamber Bunny Hunt. It was for women only.”

Over the years, the hunt became known as the Wyoming Women’s 5-Shot Rabbit Hunt and Eisemann said she has been involved in one way or another for more than 30 years.

“I lived here,” she said. “I grew up with it.”

In the antelope hunt, hunters equipped with one bullet each are sent in 3-person teams to see how many antelope the team can bring in.

In the rabbit hunt, each hunter is given five bullets and sent in 2-person teams to collect 10 rabbits. The teams are accompanied by a judge.

The object is to shoot the highest number of rabbits in the least amount of time with the best shot, Eisemann said.

“If you’re fast and you’ve done your homework and found your bunny holes, you can maybe get three to six rabbits in less than a minute,” she said. “We’ve had some teams come in at 17 minutes for 10 rabbits. These girls can shoot.”

So far this year, six teams have signed up to take part, but teams can register at the Shoshoni Fire Hall as late as Friday evening, when those attending a dance and auction prior to the hunt can place their bids on which team they think will have the best score at the end of the weekend. The dance and auction are open to the public.

The actual hunt begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and Eisemann said the teams can go anywhere around Shoshoni as long as they stay at least 1 mile away from any communities.

The teams must also return to the Fire Hall by 4 p.m. and the winning teams will be announced during a banquet Saturday evening.

For more information, visit the 5-Shot Rabbit Hunt’s Facebook page.

Laramie Lions Club holds first ice fishing derby of the new year

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Laramie Ice Fishing
A young winner of the Laramie Plains Lions Club Ice Fishing Derby in 2015. Adults and youth — those under the age of 14 — will wet their lines this weekend in the 27th annual derby, to be held at Laramie’s Lake Hattie. (Courtesy photo)
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For the angler who likes to catch his or her fish through the ice, this weekend will offer up the first opportunity of the new year to compete in an ice fishing derby.

The Laramie Plains Lions Club Ice Fishing Derby, running from Saturday through Sunday afternoon, will see anglers on Laramie’s Lake Hattie wet their lines for a shot at more than $3,500 in prize money.

The derby, now in its 27th year, has traditionally been held in early January, said Lewis Lyon, chairman of the derby for the Lions Club.

“We try to start the year’s ice fishing season and I think Saratoga follows us by a couple of weeks,” he said.

The event  usually draws from 200 to 250 adults and 20 to 25 youths — under the age of 14 — who compete for cash prizes for the largest fish caught. In addition, if someone catches a fish that has been specially tagged and returned to the lake, he or she will win $2,000, Lyon said.

This is the third year for the specially tagged fish and in past years, the prize has gone unclaimed, he added.

The adult who catches the largest fish, as determined in measures of length, girth and weight, will receive $1,500. Cash prizes will also go to those who catch the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-largest fish. A $25 prize will go to the person bringing in the smallest fish.

In youth competition, the angler bringing in the largest fish will win $150. Prizes will also be awarded for the second-, third- and fourth-largest fish, as well as for the smallest fish — again, $25.

While fishing through ice in frigid weather might not sound comfortable to some, Lyon said most of the ice fishermen are well prepared for the winter conditions.

“I like to stand up by the fire and get warm, but there’s people who like to stand out there on the ice,” he said. “You look at some of the huts that they have, they’ve got heaters in them, they’re pretty comfortable.”

Lyon predicted that up to two-thirds of those competing will be return visitors to the derby.

Fishing begins at 8 a.m. Saturday and ends at 4 p.m., resuming at 8 a.m. Sunday and ending at 2 p.m., when the derby closes.

The winners of the derby will be announced about 20 minutes after the fishing ends, Lyon said.

“We shut down at 2 p.m. and give them 20 minutes to get in off of the ice in case somebody caught one right at 2 p.m.,” he said.

The admission fee for the derby is $35 for adults and $5 for children and money raised during the event will be used to support one of the Lions Club’s several charities, which include providing assistance to those who need glasses or eye examinations, support for the Allen H. Stewart Lions Camp near Casper and support for the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank in Colorado.

For more information on the derby, visit the Lions Club’s website.

Wyoming’s first ‘SantaCon’ held in Cody

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SantaCon
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Santa Claus’ big night may be past for 2019, but before his trip around the world, a party in his honor was held in Cody.

Wyoming’s first “SantaCon,” a gathering of people dressed like the big man himself, was held Saturday, Dec. 21, in conjunction with a winter brewfest.

The party featuring costume contests, games and a wide variety of microbrews, was the creation of Janie Curtis, who said she had seen similar events in other communities.

“There’s not a whole lot going on in Cody this time of year, people are always looking for something to do,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “So I thought it would be fun to pair the brewfest with some kind of theme and SantaCon, to my knowledge, has never happened in Cody or even in Wyoming.”

The event helped raise money and awareness for “Got Your Six Outdoors,” a veteran support group in Cody.

“I’m always looking for organizations in town to support with my events,” Curtis said. “I try to choose organizations that could help anybody and touch as many different kinds of people as possible, so the veterans group was just kind of a natural choice.”

Curtis is also the organizer for the Bill Cody Races, another event that raises money for Cody charities.

Given the success of this year’s SantaCon, Curtis said she will absolutely put on the state’s second such event next year.

“I’ve heard about some costumes that people are planning,” she said. “People are definitely getting in to it, not just Santa, but theme Santas and elves and reindeer and just kind of being creative with it.”

Cheyenne stages ninth ‘Ball Drop’ for New Year’s

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Cheyenne Ball Drop
A huge ball lit by thousands of bulbs will “drop” at midnight on Dec. 31 at the Cheyenne Depot Plaza. The ball drop and accompanying fireworks have been a Cheyenne tradition for nine years. (Courtesy photo)
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A nine-year tradition of welcoming the new year with a large, glittering ball will be observed again in Cheyenne this week.

The Cheyenne Ball Drop, held on the Cheyenne Depot Plaza since 2011, will see celebrations running through the day Dec. 31, offering activities for both children and adults.

Activities begin at 3 p.m. inside the Depot, with games and inflatable toys for children, said Laura Levi, organizer for the Ball Drop and the digital marketing coordinator for Visit Cheyenne.

“A few years back we decided we needed a children’s element,” she said. “Something to take the edge off if people have too much energy to stay inside all  day.”

The “princesses” will visit the children’s New Year’s celebration inside the depot at the Depot Plaza on Dec. 31. The children’s celebration will begin at 3 p.m. and feature games and inflatable toys, along with an early “ball drop” and fireworks show at 6 p.m. (Courtesy photo)
The “princesses” will visit the children’s New Year’s celebration inside the depot at the Depot Plaza on Dec. 31. The children’s celebration will begin at 3 p.m. and feature games and inflatable toys, along with an early “ball drop” and fireworks show at 6 p.m. (Courtesy photo)

The games will continue until 6 p.m., when the huge, lit ball used to mark the new year when the clock hits midnight will make an early trip for those who may not be able to stay up late.

“It will be the same ball and same fireworks show so you don’t miss anything from the regular show,” Levi said. “This way, you can take the kids, see the ball drop and then you can come back out and see the one at midnight.”

After the children’s celebration wraps up at around 6 p.m., the adults’ party will begin at 11:30 p.m., Levi said, featuring a DJ who will play music through the celebration. The ball will drop at midnight, when a fireworks display will take place.

Last year’s ball drop had to be canceled because of sub-zero temperatures and high winds. However, the long-range forecast for this year predicts low temperatures in the high 20s, although winds may be brisk.

For more information on the Cheyenne Ball Drop, go to the Visit Cheyenne website.

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