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A salute to aviation at Wyoming’s only Spaceport

in Tourism/Transportation/Travel
Wyoming Spaceport celebration
Three boys check out the interior of one of the planes that flew to the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport during the 2018 Spaceport Days festival. (Photo courtesy of the City of Green River)

A celebration of air travel at a Wyoming airport named with an eye to the future is in the cards this weekend.

Green River’s annual Spaceport Days, staged at the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport, will be held Friday and Saturday and will feature a magic performance, outdoor screening of a “Star Wars” movie and a demonstration of the Aviat “Husky” airplane, made in Afton.

The Intergalactic Spaceport is a public use airstrip about five miles south of Green River that was renamed a spaceport in 1994.

According to published reports, the rural airport was renamed by Green River City Council members to convey “an offer of sanctuary to the possible residents of the planet of Jupiter” threatened at the time by pieces of a comet headed for the planet.

The airport is used by local pilots and pilots of small planes, said Amanda Cavaz, Green River’s communications administrator.

“We have people who come in and land, then they come in to explore,” she said. “We’ve had some people who land there to make sure everything is OK on their aircraft. It’s a great airport for anybody who is coming in to do recreation here in Green River.”

Green River Spaceport Days
Crowds check out the helicopters and airplanes on display at the 2018 Spaceport Days at the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport. (Photo courtesy of the City of Green River)

Spaceport Days was organized as a way to celebrate aviation and local aviators, Cavaz said.

“And it’s to invite aviators from our region to come in and see our operation and share a breakfast,” she said.

Activities begin at 7 p.m. Friday with a performance by a magician, followed at 9 p.m. by the showing of a “Star Wars” movie and Star Wars costume contest.

Fire pits can be found throughout the area, allowing attendees to light campfires while watching the movie.

Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport
A young attendee at the 2018 Spaceport Days festival takes a look around the inside of a helicopter during the event held at the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport. (Photo courtesy of the City of Green River)

“It’s really a fun, family-friendly type event,” Cavaz said. “People bring trucks and camp chairs and set up their camp chairs and watch a movie outdoors.”

On Saturday, a pancake breakfast will start the day at 8 a.m. The cost is $7 per person, but pilots who fly into the area will eat for free, Cavaz said.

“Most pilots like to fly early in colder air, so they land, taxi off the runway, park the aircraft and have breakfast on us,” she said. “Members of the public then have a chance to come in and look at all the different types of planes.”

In past years, pilots have flown to Green River from areas of Wyoming including Laramie, Afton and Pinedale, she said.

After breakfast, a UH-60 “Blackhawk” helicopter and an “Airmed” rescue helicopter will be on display, while the “Husky” airplane created by Afton’s Aviat will put on an aerobatics demonstration.

For more information on Spaceport Days, visit there website here or go to the Spaceport Days and Fly-In page on Facebook.

Expedition Island site of River Festival

in Travel
River Festival Duck Race

The island where explorer John Wesley Powell launched his two groundbreaking explorations of the Green and Colorado rivers in the 1800s will be the site this weekend for Green River’s official final party of the summer.

River Festival, now in its 18th year, will feature live music, a marathon, a shrimp boil and much more, all offered on Expedition Island on Friday and Saturday.

The festival sponsored by the Green River Chamber of Commerce is the city’s way to say farewell to summer, said Lisa Herrera of the chamber.

“It’s the last hurrah of summer before the fall season hits us,” she said. “It’s a good time.”

Powell launched his expeditions of 1869 and 1871 from the island and today, it is a 7-acre city park.

Activities at the park this weekend will begin Friday with a shrimp boil and spaghetti dinner, a “Micro Brew Beer Garden,” craft vendors, fireworks and live music by the band NoWhere Fast.

Saturday morning will begin with a pancake breakfast and the “Run with the Horses Marathon,” a run that will take participants from Expedition Island along the area’s Wild Horse Loop Tour and back.

“There’s a real good chance you will see wild horses up there,” Herrera said.

The marathon draws people from around the world, this year including a 64-year-old woman taking part in her 307th marathon.

The “Micro Brew Beer Garden” will be open through the weekend, as will the craft vendor booths.

Other activities on Saturday will include a car and bike show, a dog fetching competition, a “duck race” — where toy ducks are released on the Green River — and a horseshoe tournament.

For more information on the River Festival, visit the chamber’s website at GRChamber.com.

Cowboy State Bucket List covers 97,000 square miles!

in Bill Sniffin/Column/Travel

By Bill Sniffin, My Wyoming columnist 

What is on your ‘Cowboy State Bucket List?”

By definition, the term “bucket list” stands for those places you want to visit or those things you want to do before you die.

For some time now, I have annually been publishing my own version of this list and have gradually been checking a few off my list. 

In a land of 97,000 square miles full of mountains, canyons, rivers, historical trails and outposts, Native American sites, and modern marvels, it is easy to compile such a list. 

And yet, there are so many more places to see it seems like my list is getting longer rather than shorter. 

For example a dinosaur dig or a buffalo jump have zoomed to near the top of my list.  Our family had never been to either and Wyoming has some of the best in the country. The dinosaur digs near Thermopolis is of the most prominent dino dig in the country.  The Vore buffalo jump near Sundance is amazing. I also want to get out in the Red Desert and see the one on the summit of Steamboat Mountain between Rock Springs and Farson.

Among the things that I wanted to do, and did do, included finally seeing Sybille Canyon between Laramie and Wheatland and driving the back road over the Snowy Range Mountains between Saratoga and Laramie.  

Also, I finally took that Red Desert back road from Rock Springs to South Pass and visited Boars Tusk and the Killpecker Sand Dunes. On my earlier list was a visit to Bill, Wyoming, which I managed to do one Sunday afternoon while listening to a Bronco football game on the radio. 

Also finally I drove that fantastic Wild Horse Loop from Green River to north of Rock Springs above White Mountain. We also re-visited the fantastic petroglyphs just south of Dubois. Amazing.

But I still have not made it to some very important events. So here goes my Cowboy State Bucket List for today: 

  • Am hoping to take a closer look at Vedauwoo area outside of Laramie.  I have driven by it hundreds of times. It is time for a closer look. Also, to spend some time at Curt Gowdy State Park. 
  • Between Jeffrey City and Muddy Gap is an odd rock formation I call Stonehenge. Locals call it Castle Rock.  Reportedly it has names written in it including John Sublette. Sometime this summer I hope to have it finally checked off.
  • I want to spend more time in extreme western Wyoming from Afton to Evanston. Lots to see there. 
  • Our family lived on Squaw Creek for 23 years outside of Lander and our view looked out at the imposing Red Butte.  Hope to climb it this summer.
  • If Fossil Butte is not on this list, my friend Vince Tomassi will scold me about it.  He serves incredible meals every Thursday night in Kemmerer-Diamondville at Luigi’s. Perhaps a tour and dinner, Vince?
  • In 1993, I spent a very nervous time hunting a bighorn ram in the Double Cabin Area northeast of Dubois.  Would love to go back for a more relaxed trip this time around. There were petrified forests above timberline and a place that included a meadow full of vertical rocks standing on end. 
  • I still need to take the time to tour all the new parts of UW with a knowledgeable guide and see first-hand all the new buildings and new programs. 
  • Some 48 years ago, I photographed what looked like a horrible scar on Togwotee Pass where the area was clear-cut. Would like to go back to those areas and see if the timber has recovered or not.
  • Historian Phil Roberts says he will give me a tour of the “breaks” north of Lusk?   I flew over that area by private plane many times and looked down in awe at this rough country.
  • A tour of Wyoming’s giant coalmines makes sense.
  • On the Wind River Reservation, I finally visited the Arapaho Ranch and also visited the mountains at the extreme north end of the rez. Saw the Legend Rock petroglyph site in that neighborhood –fantastic. 

To wrap this up, my friend Tom Hayes does not like the term “bucket list” and calls his a “leap list” for a list he does every leap year to plan their visits over the next four years.   

Jim Hicks always offers perspective on these kinds of lists when he says he always wanted to break par, then he always wanted to break 80.

“Now I just want to be able to get out there and play,” he concludes. 

So that’s my Cowboy State bucket list.  What’s yours?

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

It’s all about art at Lander’s Riverfest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

in arts and culture/Travel
Big Horn Rendezvous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thousands visit Buffalo for ‘Longmire Days’

in News/Tourism/Travel

By Wendy Corr for Cowboy State Daily

Even though it’s been three years since the last new episode of “Longmire” aired, thousands of people last week visited the town that inspired the setting for the books written by Ucross author Craig Johnson.

An estimated 10,000 were in Buffalo on July 18-21 to celebrate the eighth annual “Longmire Days,” an event created to commemorate the popular television and book series.

Fans from around the world flock to Buffalo for the autograph sessions with stars from the show, parades, a craft show, talent show and classic car show that highlight the weekend.

Damaris Miller of Colorado said her love of the show will keep her coming to Buffalo every year even though the show is no longer in production.

“You just feel like you know the characters and you feel like if they walk on the street, you would just feel like you were friends with them,” she said. “You know their history, you know their life. And as you can see from Buffalo, it’s crowded from people who just love the series. I plan on coming every year.”

Buffalo residents enjoy the boost to the local economy that comes with the annual celebration.

“It enriches us by bringing together lots of different folks who come here and appreciate the beauty of where we live,” said Tacia Kolb of Leadership Johnson County.

The streaming service Netflix continues to air past episodes of “Longmire.”

Dubois celebrates ‘National Day of the Cowboy’ this weekend

in Tourism/Travel
National Day of the Cowboy Celebration Dubois, Wyoming

A weekend of celebration dedicated to an iconic American figure is on tap in Dubois this weekend as the town holds its annual “National Day of the Cowboy” celebration.

Every year, the day of commemoration first recognized 2005 is held on the fourth Saturday of July. In Dubois, that celebration takes the form of a rodeo, parade and special events that may not be seen at just any community event — like the “cowhide race.”

“You hook a cowhide by rope to a horse and the horse pulls you around (an arena) and you have to stay on for a set amount of time,” said Randy Lahr, an official with the celebration. “It’s not easy. You won’t see me doing that.”

The cowhide race is just one of several events occurring during the weekend.

The celebration kicks off Friday night with Dubois’ regular Friday Night Rodeo, held every Friday through the summer.

The rodeo is considered a working ranch rodeo, which means competitors are working cowboys from ranches in the area, Lahr said.

“It’s a totally different rodeo,” he said. “It’s put on by all of the dude ranches and the people who come to the dude ranches are involved.”

On Saturday, events will kick off with a parade through downtown Dubois in the afternoon and a chuckwagon serving coffee and biscuits beginning after the parade.

Later, a “poker run” will lead participants through and around Dubois.In a poker run, participants ride to pre-determined spots to collect playing cards. The person with the best poker hand after a certain number of stops generally wins a prize.

While poker runs are most often associated with motorcycles, in this case, riders will be on horseback, Lahr said.

The cowhide race will follow the poker run, as will a whiskey, wine and beer tasting. The day will wrap up with a concert titled “Romancing the West,” which presents a history of the West in song.

Also running through the weekend is the annual Headwaters National Art Show and Sale in the Headwaters Center.

On Sunday, a session of cowboy church will be held and the chuckwagon will again offer coffee and biscuits.

The celebration is under the direction of the Dubois Western Activities Association, which was created this year to oversee the National Day of the Cowboy, the community’s chariot races, usually held in the fall, and its pack horse race in June.

Riverton Rendezvous: 39th Annual Balloon Rally This Weekend

in Travel


The catch phrase for this weekend will be “Up, Up and Away” as balloonists from across the region take advantage of the Wind River Valley’s calm weather for the annual Riverton Rendezvous and Balloon Rally.

Fourteen balloonists from as far away as California, Utah and even Canada are set to take part in the 39th annual rally, started in 1981 as an event to celebrate Riverton’s Diamond Jubilee.

Balloon flights can be tricky in Wyoming because of the state’s windy conditions, but Riverton, inside the Wind River Valley, sees better flying conditions than most areas, said Eric Carr, chairman of the Riverton Rendezvous and Balloon Rally Committee.

“We have exceptional weather for ballooning in the mornings here,” he said. “We can get some wind, but by and large, this region of the state is one of the least windiest parts of the state.”

Events scheduled for the weekend include balloon flights Saturday and Sunday, along with live music, a radio controlled airplane demonstration, a fireworks display and a “balloon glow,” a nighttime event when balloons are inflated so the flames that heat the balloons illuminate their designs.

All of the balloons appearing in Riverton are sponsored by local businesses and many flights on Saturday and Sunday will be with representatives of the businesses, Carr said.

However, flights for the general public are also available. Tickets can be purchased by calling Riverton City Hall at (307) 856-2227.

Riverton even has two of its own balloons, “Cloud Kisser II” and “Cloud Kisser III” that will be present for the event. The two balloons visit various ballooning events to promote the Riverton rally.

A balloon flight can be a unique experience, Carr said.

“You just kind of let go,” he said. “To just get up in the air and it is so quiet you can hear everything. There’s no motor,  no propeller, you’re just up in the air floating around. So it’s a really, really unique sensation.”

Events kick off Friday with a barbecue for the balloonists featuring keynote speaker Cheri White, a Texas pilot who has won a number of awards form various ballooning organizations.

The dinner will be followed by the Rocky Mountain Rebels Car and Bike “Friday Night Cruise,” a parade through downtown Riverton.

Flights begin Saturday morning when the balloons take off from Central Wyoming College at 6 a.m., followed by tethered balloon rides at 7 a.m.

The balloon glow will be held at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a fireworks show at 10 p.m.

The balloons will take to the air again at 6 a.m. Sunday.

For more information on the rally, visit its website at RivertonRendezvous.com or its page on Facebook.

Hundreds of Lusk residents take part in ‘Legend of Rawhide’

in Travel
Legend of Rawhide pageant

Several hundred people will lend their talents this weekend to the annual staging of one of Wyoming’s oldest pageants celebrating life on the plains for settlers making their way west.

Lusk’s “Legend of Rawhide,” a fixture of the community since 1946, will run Friday through Saturday, featuring evening performances, dances, contests, a raffle, car show and a parade.

Jackie Bredthauer, director of the Niobrara Chamber of Commerce, estimates that half of Lusk’s residents are involved as volunteers in the pageant itself or the associated activities.

The pageant itself is held in the arena of the Niobrara County Fairgrounds, which is transformed to look a stopping point for a wagon train near Rawhide Buttes south of Lusk. Volunteers even bring in trees to stand in the arena and build a waterfall.

Actors and narrators, largely following a script written by EvaLou “Bonnie” Bonsell in 1946, act out the evening routine of a wagon crossing the plains from Missouri in the 1840s. Nearby, actors portray the activities of the residents of an American Indian village.

The main story surrounds a young pioneer who reportedly vowed to kill the first Indian he ran across in the West. His victim turned out to be a princess from the nearby village. The young man was turned over to the tribe to face justice in exchange for the wagon train being allowed to leave the area unchallenged.

The man was skinned alive, an event recreated during the pageant.

Members of a wagon train try to repel American Indians attacking the train after a member of their tribe was killed by a young man in a scene from the 2015 “Legend of Rawhide.” Hundreds of Lusk residents volunteer each year to put on the pageant that began in 1946. (Photo by Mary Angell)

Over the years, very few changes have been made to Bonsell’s original script, Bredthauer said.

“They added some extra scenes, for instance, we have kids fishing in the fishing pond,” she said. “But the gist of the whole thing is about the same. They didn’t want to change the history of it.”

The performances begin at 8:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday night and are followed by a dance each night.

On Saturday, a number of events will be held through the day, including a poker tournament, corn hole tournament, parade and “closest to the pin” contest.

In addition, the “Crossroads Show and Shine” car show will be held in Lusk through the day Saturday.

A special attraction this year will be the appearance of the “Moving Wall,” a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The wall will go on display on Thursday evening and will remain in place at the Lusk High School baseball field until Sunday morning.

Money raised from the annual performance, contests and raffles is used to benefit local charities. For instance, when a flash flood destroyed property in Lusk immediately before the pageant in 2015, money was used to assist people who suffered losses, Bredthauer said.

In addition, every year money is set aside to pay for scholarships for students from Lusk.For more information on the “Legend of Rawhide,” visit the event’s website at LegendofRawhide.com.

Visit Riverton for Mountain Man Rendezvous at real rendezvous site

in Travel
1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous
Re-enactors from the 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous walk through Riverton in the event’s annual parade. The event’s opening ceremonies will be held Wednesday and will run through Saturday. (Photo courtesy of the 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous)

The beaver fur trade may be long gone, but there’s still a way to get a glimpse of how things looked when the fur trappers and mountain men of the mid-1800s got together.

The 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous, the only rendezvous reenactment held at the actual site of a rendezvous staged more than a century ago, will run through the weekend in Riverton.

Featuring people dressed as mountain men and activities such as black powder shooting demonstrations, tomahawk and knife competitions and dutch-oven cooking, the event is a recreation of the gatherings held annually when fur trappers would meet to sell their wares to companies, said Rick Lechner, who has been involved in the rendezvous for a number of years.

A re-enactor at the 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous in Riverton prepares to take part in black powder shooting. The annual gathering, to be held this weekend, features people dressed in period clothing taking part in activities that would have been common for the “mountain men” of the mid-1800s. (Photo courtesy of the 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous)

“A rendezvous was where the trappers would come out of the mountains and fur companies would come from places like St. Louis and they would do their trading there every summer,” said Lechner, who goes by the name of “Smoking Hawk” while wearing his mountain man clothing. “It was a time for the trappers to blow off some steam, have some fun and sell their furs.”

The 1838 rendezvous was one of the last held in the Rockies as silk replaced beaver pelts in the manufacturing of hats, Lechner said, but it was also one of the largest on record.

“That was the last big rendezvous because the silk industry came in,” he said. “There were over 1,000 horses and mules. They would set up a main area for trade, but then they would go up and down the river for several miles.”

The event’s activities center around what would have been common skills for the period, including starting a fire with flint and steel, trap setting, skinning, dutch oven cooking, black powder shooting and embroidery.

Events begin with opening ceremonies on Wednesday and continue throughout the weekend at the camp near the Popo Agie River.

Dressing in period clothing is encouraged, but not required.

For more information, visit the Rendezvous website or see its page on Facebook.

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