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

in Travel/Travel Wyoming/Column

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 


‘Holidays Around the World’ to be celebrated at Burns library

in Travel

By Cowboy State Daily

A celebration of holiday traditions from around the world will greet visitors to the Burns branch of the Laramie County Library on Friday.

“Holidays Around the World” will give children a chance to celebrate the holiday traditions of other countries in a program that will run from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., said Kasey Mossey, communications coordinator for the Laramie County Library system.

“The whole point is to celebrate diversity, to teach children that there are a ton of different holiday celebrations that happen all over the world,” she said.

The program will feature crafts, games and snacks, all based on different holiday traditions and celebrations.

Among the events will be a dreidel game, a game involving a top played during Hanukkah, a Mexican hat dance to commemorate Christmas celebrations in Mexico and the making of tree-shaped Rice Krispies treats as a nod to German holiday traditions.

Attendees will also make “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” ornaments out of paper plates and make drums from oatmeal containers to celebrate Kwanzaa.

Children will also be given books during the celebration to recognize Christmas celebrations in Iceland, where books are traditionally exchanged, Mossey said.

“(The librarian in Burns) is trying to collect enough books to give a book away to each kid who comes in,” she said. “And if she doesn’t reach that goal, it is a library, so they can check books out.”

People wishing to donate books to help the Burns library reach its goal may do so by dropping off books at the Burns Library at 112 Main St.

For more information on the celebration, visit the Laramie County Library’s website at LaramieCountyLibrary.org.

Fireworks, story reading mark Ucross Christmas Celebration

in Travel
Ucross Fireworks

A Christmas celebration featuring fireworks and the reading of a holiday story by a nationally acclaimed author will be on tap this weekend for visitors to an artist’s colony near Sheridan.

The seventh annual Ucross Christmas Celebration will be held Saturday, highlighted as always by musical performances, the lighting of trees decorated for the holidays, refreshments and the reading of a story by “Longmire” author Craig Johnson, who lives near Ucross.

“The Christmas celebration came from (Ucross Foundation founder Raymond Plank’s) passion for Christmas,” said Ucross Foundation spokeswoman Carly Fraysier. “For seven years it’s been the same routine.”

The celebration is free to the public and will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday. Throughout the event, refreshments will be available, as will crafts for children.

Music will be provided by area resident Taylor Corum and Buffalo High School Balladiers.Johnson, who has read a Christmas story at the celebration for at least the last three years, will read “Who’s Your Daddy,” a story with ties to Christmas from a recent “Longmire” book.

At 6 p.m., attendees will go outside to watch a fireworks show staged by former legislator Bruce Burns, followed by the lighting of thousands of Christmas lights strung on dozens of trees in the Park at Ucross.

“It really is a community-wide celebration,” Fraysier said. “Bruce does an amazing job. The Park at Ucross is a beautiful setting. It’s pretty special.”

Over the years, the event has drawn people from throughout the Sheridan and Buffalo areas, along with some from as far away as Casper, she added. 

“It’s kind of a special event and people from even a little further away try to put it on their calendars,” she said.

For more information, visit the Ucross Foundation’s website or its Facebook page.

Ice sculpture and parades featured at Gillette’s Holiday Ice Festival

in Travel
Gillette Parade
A float passes by in a past “Parade of Lights” parade held in Gillette. The annual event, to be held on Saturday, features 30 to 40 floats and draws from 3,000 to 4,000 people.

By Cowboy State Daily

The art of ice sculpting will be on display in Gillette this weekend as the city launches its celebration of the holidays.

Gillette’s Downtown Holiday Ice Festival, which will lead into the city’s annual “Parade of Lights,” will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

During the day-long event, five sculptors will work with 200-pound blocks of ice to create sculptures that will be on display for visitors to downtown Gillette.

“One thing we seem to get a lot of is snow,” said Jessica Seders, executive director of Gillette Main Street, the organization holding the event. “We thought ‘What better way to get people downtown?’”

Ice sculpture
The art of ice sculpting will be on display in Gillette this weekend as the city launches its celebration of the holidays.

The ice festival was launched five years ago, but for its first three years, it was held in February. Last year, organizers changed the date to coincide with the city’s Christmas celebration.

The sculptors will work on their pieces from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

At the same time, samples of chowder and soup will be offered up for judging by members of the public in the “Chowder Challenge” and fire pits will be set up for the preparation of s’mores.

Other activities during the day will include an ugly sweater contest and a parade by the motorcycle club ABATE, which will launch its annual toy drive during the event. Selected merchants will also be taking part in a “concoction contest,” in which they will make specialty drinks — alcoholic and non-alcoholic — for tasting by shoppers.

The day’s events will be capped by the city’s annual “Parade of Lights,” which will begin at 5 p.m. The parade will feature 30 to 40 floats and usually draws from 3,000 to 4,000 people, Seders said.Seders said the day full of events is Gillette Main Street’s way to bolster local shopping during the holiday season.

“We’re just trying to help kick off that ‘shop local’ season,” she said. “Our community is very supportive. Most of our merchants are reporting increases in business, some as high as double-digits.”

The idea of community support has become especially important this year as Gillette deals with declines in the coal industry that saw two of Campbell County’s largest coal mines close temporarily earlier this year.

“That is why our community comes out in force and supports one another,” Seders said.

For more information on Gillette’s Downtown Holiday Ice Festival, go to Visit Gillette’s website or visit Gillette Main Street’s Facebook page.

Rock Springs hosts interesting take on ‘Black Friday’ — ‘Plaid Friday’

in Travel
Plaid Bags

An interesting twist on “Black Friday” that puts the emphasis on shopping local is taking place Friday in Rock Springs.

“Plaid Friday,” a creation of Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency, will put shoppers on the street with plaid bags as they visit local businesses, said Trina Brittain the agency’s marketing director.

“Instead of ‘Black Friday,’ we’re doing ‘Plaid Friday’ to encourage people to shop local, to remember to give those mom and pop shops the love they deserve,” she said.This year’s event, the first, is part of a weekend full of activities to launch the holiday season.

At 9 a.m., Friday, First Bank in Rock Springs will offer the first 100 shoppers to enter its offices plaid shopping bags to carry as they stroll through the downtown area. Each bag is filled with special offers, information and gift certificates, Brittain said.

Shoppers are being also being encouraged to wear plaid as they make their rounds.

“We’re encouraging business owners, staff, shoppers and neighbors to wear plaid,” Brittain said. “It’s like having people wear the local high school colors for team spirit.”

Through the weekend, visitors will also be invited to take part in a “plaid rock hunt” and search for rocks painted plaid that have been placed around downtown. The rocks should be turned in to the Rock Springs Main Street offices to earn the finder an entry in a prize drawing.

At 11 a.m. Friday, a Christmas Gift Show will open in Bunning Hall on Main Street, featuring 25 vendors. The gift show will run through Saturday.

Rock Springs Bingo

Other activities planned for the weekend include free horse-drawn carriage rides on Saturday, visits with Santa beginning Saturday and an ongoing “Christmas Bingo” game, where participants will get the chance to earn a prize by taking part in various activities around the community during the holidays. Most of the activities are free, Brittain said.

All of the events are designed to foster good relations between the shoppers and merchants of Rock Springs, Brittain said.

“The whole celebration is a chance for merchants and patrons to feel those positive relations and just have fun,” she said. “That’s our goal here is to get people to gather and make a special connection.”

For more information about “Plaid Friday,” visit the Rock Springs Main Street website or the Downtown Rock Springs Facebook page.

Powell celebration raises money for arts center

in Travel

Those wishing for an early start to both the holidays and the weekend should head to Powell this week for the city’s annual “Festival of Trees.”

Held in the Plaza Diane Community Center for the Arts, the festival on Thursday will give people a chance to bid on and buy trees and wreaths decorated by Powell area residents.

Money raised by the silent auction will be used to fund programs such as art classes and music offered at the center, said coordinator Katie Stensing.

People donating the artificial trees and wreaths are invited to decorate any way they want to.

“I know right now, one of the trees has a farm theme,” Stensing said. “Another one is a book theme, it’s hung with tiny handmade books.”

The auction will be held in conjunction with Powell’s “Sample and Shop the Season” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, when businesses will stay open late and offer refreshments and snacks to visitors.

“People will hopefully stop in (at the center) and take part in our silent auction,” Stensing said.

Although the “Festival of the Trees” has been held in Powell in the past, this year marks the first for it to be run by the Plaza Diane Center.

For more information, visit the Powell Chamber of Commerce website or the Center for the Arts website at PlazaDiane.org.

‘Dia De Los Muertos’ comes to Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

in Travel/Community
Sugar Skull

A giant replica of a sugar skull will greet visitors to the Cheyenne Botanic Garden on Friday and Saturday as the facility takes part in the traditional Mexican holiday of Dia De Los Muertos or “Day of the Dead.”

Activities on Friday and Saturday will educate visitors on the holiday, which is set aside as a day for people to remember friends and family members who have died.

And since the event is being held at the Botanic Garden, much of that education will focus on how flowers figure into the celebration, said Director Tina Worthman.

“There will be a lot about the flowers that are significant to the Day of the Dead,” she said. “So we’ll have a lot of marigolds. They are one of the most commonly used flowers for the Day of Dead. They grow particularly well in Mexico and they’re colorful.”

The Botanic Gardens has been growing marigolds especially for the celebration for months, Worthman said, and will have other special flowers on display throughout the event, along with signs explaining the significance of the flowers to the celebration.

“It’s a nice way to bring in the significance of the botanical world to something like this,” She said. “It’s a special niche we have where we can explain that significance.”

The special display will open on Friday at 11 a.m. A giant “sugar skull,” a traditional candy served during the celebration, will greet visitors as they enter the Botanic Gardens while in the facility’s Conservatory, people can leave momentos in honor of their departed loved ones on one of several “ofrendas” or altars on display.

Authentic Mexican food will also be available for purchase from Cheyenne food vendors both Friday and Saturday.

On Saturday, activities will run from 1 to 5 p.m. and feature live performances by mariachi bands and dancers.

In the Botanic Gardens’ classroom, children will be invited to take part in crafts such as the creation of flower crowns and the decoration of pots adorned with sugar skulls. Children will also get a chance to help create a mural on the floor of the Children’s Village.

For more information, visit the Botanic Gardens website at Botanic.org/classes or the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens Facebook page.

Beer tasting on tap in Saratoga on Saturday

in Travel/Food and Beverage

By Cowboy State Daily

Beer lovers with a taste for Wyoming and Colorado brews will want to head to Saratoga this weekend for the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort’s sixth annual Snowy Mountain Brewery Beerfest.

More than a dozen vendors offering up their beers and spirits will be featured at the beer tasting festival inside the courtyard at the resort on Saturday.

Tiffany Jones, the director of marketing for the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort, said the annual event will draw people from around the region, with some coming from as far away as Casper and Colorado to attend the event.

“We’ve had one couple from Rock Springs come to every one,” she said.

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with a golf tournament, which is open to the public, at the resort’s 9-hole golf course, which crosses the North Platte River several times.

The beerfest will begin at noon. Each attendee will pay $30 for a pint glass, decorated with the event’s logo, which can be used to sample as many beers as the holder wishes.

“Some beerfests only give samples,” Jones said. “We have no restrictions. We give you a pint glass and you can have as many beers as you like.”

The beerfest is named for the Snowy Mountain Brewery, which is located inside the resort’s main building and operates a pub there.

The beerfest will feature live music by Third Rail, a Cheyenne band performing country and classic rock.

This event is open only to those age 21 and over.

For more information, visit the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort’s website.

Everything autumn celebrated at Sundance’s Pumpkin Patch Festival

in Travel
Sundance Wyoming Pumpkin Patch Festival

A plethora of pumpkins and a collection of scarecrows can be seen on the streets of Sundance this weekend as the city hosts its annual Pumpkin Patch Festival.

The festival on Saturday, now in its sixth year, features all of the usual celebrations of autumn, including freshly squeezed apple cider, a farmers market, pumpkin painting and a scarecrow contest.

However, mixed in with the usual goods found at a farmers market are booths set up by local non-profit organizations, which are encouraged by festival organizers to use the community gathering to raise money for their groups.

“I encourage it,” said festival organizer Joni Spaulding. “It’s a good way to raise awareness for their cause.”

The festival is held in downtown Sundance and features a pumpkin patch containing about five tons of pumpkins brought to the community from Ellis Harvest Homes in Lingle.

“They have good quality pumpkins and the people there take very good care of us,” Spaulding said. “As long as they have pumpkins, we’ll get them there.”

The festival is a way for members of the community to get together and to highlight the people who offer their wares at farmers markets.

“I decided a long time ago I wanted our festival to be a community event, where people could come together and meet their local farmers,” said Spaulding, who also owns Sundance’s Harvest Farmers Market, which is open year-round.

The open air market will feature a wide variety of goods, from produce to hand-crafted items, she said.

“You’ve got vendors who come around from all over who set up with their wares,” she said.

A booth fee is charged for vendors, but not the non-profit groups, she added.

The festival also sees the judging of the community’s scarecrow contest, which is open to any business or individual in Sundance.

The contest has been going on for five years and sees very creative entries, such as the “piggy bank” scarecrow submitted by a bank.

“A lot of local businesses and residents design scarecrows and they come up with some pretty creative ideas,” Spaulding said.

The scarecrows entered by businesses are usually set up outside of the businesses, while some scarecrows entered by individuals adorn light poles in downtown Sundance, she said.

The scarecrows will be up by Thursday and during the festival, attendees will be invited to vote for their favorite.

Also on hand will be an apple cider press and those attending the festival can get a glass of freshly squeezed cider and a booth where attendees can paint their recently purchased pumpkins. Or they can ask an artist at another booth to apply his talents to their pumpkins.

Pumpkin bowling, an obstacle course, wagon rides, duck races, pony rides, bounce houses, face painting and carnival games are also planned for the day. A gentleman raising money for his own philanthropic work for children will be at the festival to make balloon animals.

For more information on the Pumpkin Patch Festival, visit the Harvest Farmers Market page on Facebook.

It’s all about tractors at Encampment’s Copper Days Festival

in Travel
Tractors Saratoga
Tractors on display at last year’s Copper Days Festival in Encampment. The annual festival, to be held this weekend features tractor parades, tractor pulling contests, antique tractors and even toy tractor displays. (Photo courtesy of the Saratoga-Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce)

Antique tractors, toy tractors, feats of tractor strength, a tractor parade — if it has to do with tractors, it’s in the spotlight this weekend at Encampment’s annual Copper Days Festival.

The festival, celebrating its 25th year on Saturday and Sunday, is a salute to rural living, especially the role tractors play in agriculture in the Platte Valley, said Stacy Crimmins, CEO for the Saratoga-Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s definitely dedicated to rural and ranch living,” she said. “It’s kind of a way for us to celebrate the agricultural heritage of the Platte Valley.”

The focus on tractors is usually something associated more with states, Crimmins said.

“This is definitely unique for this part of the country,” she said. “You don’t have to travel halfway across the nation to see these things.”

The part of the two-day celebration dedicated to tractors is organized by Encampment’s Chug ’N Tug Tractor Club, while the Platte Valley Arts Council sponsors other events such as a performance by polka band “The River Boys” and a kids’ art workshop. The chamber of commerce handles marketing and promotion for the event, Crimmins said.

Events begin at 10 a.m. Saturday with a tractor parade through Encampment.At 11 a.m. Saturday, the action will move to the Encampment-Riverside Lions Club Arena, where competitors will take part in a tractor pull. There, tractors are hitched to trailers carrying weights. As the tractors move forward, the weights move closer to the front of the trailer, increasing the amount of power needed to move the trailer.

The kids’ art workshop will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, as will the toy tractor display.

“We’re trying to keep the enthusiasm for tractors up with the younger generations,” Crimmins said of the toy tractor display. “We’re just trying to make sure there’s an outlet for those who are a little younger to enjoy tractors.”

The community dance at the Grand Encampment Opera House is the only event of the weekend with an entry fee — $15 for adults, which includes a light dinner. The dance runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.“

A lot of the more experienced dancers are very willing to give lessons and help people remember the steps or even help the younger people get a gist of the steps,” Crimmins said.

A second tractor pull will be held Sunday at 10:30 a.m.For more information on Copper Days, visit the Saratoga-Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce’s website or see the chamber’s Facebook page.

Fun in a bun: Wyoming’s Hot Dog Eating Championship to be held in Mills on Monday

in Community/Food and Beverage
Hot dogs

For those with a soft spot in their hearts for the epicurean delight that is the hot dog, Mills is the place to be this long holiday weekend.

The second annual Wyoming Hot Dog Eating Championship on Monday will feature feats of gastronomical bravery as competitors face off in an attempt to eat the most hot dogs — including buns — in 11 minutes.

Organizer Ticker Lock, owner of Casper’s Rockin’ Burgers ’n Dogs Food Truck, said he created the championship and accompanying activities to give residents of his hometown of Mills something to look forward to at the end of the summer.

“It’s my way of giving back to the community,” he said. “There’s nothing to do on Labor Day. So I created it. I wanted to give the community something to look forward to.”

Competitors simply have to register at no cost on the day of the event. However, only seven men and seven women will be allowed to enter — although one extra spot is automatically awarded to the winners of the 2018 competition if they choose to enter this year.

Separate competitions will be held for men and women. Last year’s champion in men’s competition ate 13 hot dogs, while the women’s winner, who came to Casper from Nevada, ate 12, Lock said.

Competitors must eat not only the all-beef hot dogs, but the accompanying buns as well, he added.

“A lot of them bring their own Kool-Aid or water to dunk the bun,” he said. “It saves on a bit of chewing.”

The winners will each receive a custom-made championship belt.

The hot dog contest is the highlight of the full-day celebration at Mills River Front Park. Activities begin with a car show at 4 p.m. sponsored by group “Pop in the Shop.” The fee for putting to put a car on display is $10 and the proceeds will be used to help Pop in the Shop in its work to mentor young men.

Also on hand will be several food trucks, including Rockin’ Burgers n’ Dogs, Deb’s Fudge Kitchen, I Scream for Ice Cream and Miss Sara’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese, along with vendors, all beginning at 3 p.m.

Live music by Chad Lore, “Wyoming’s One-Man Band,” will begin at 4 p.m.

For more information, visit Rock’ Burgers n’ Dogs Food Truck’s website or see its Facebook page.

A salute to aviation at Wyoming’s only Spaceport

in Travel/Transportation/Tourism
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.

It’s all about art at Lander’s Riverfest

in Travel/arts and culture
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.

Dubois celebrates ‘National Day of the Cowboy’ this weekend

in Travel/Tourism
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’

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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

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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.

Casper to host first ‘Comic Con’ at Events Center

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Casper Comic Con

Those who like to dress up as fantasy or science fiction characters will feel right at home in Casper this weekend as the Casper Events Center hosts the city’s first Comic Con.

Fantasy and science fiction costumes and costume contests, toys, clothing, art and even tattoos will all be found at the inaugural event, said founder Clint Randolph.“

There’s going to be a little bit of everything,” he said. “There will be a costume contest each day, we’ve got a lot of artists, a lot of comic books and toy dealers. It’s kind of a mix and match of everything.”

The featured guest for the weekend will be Montana native Kerry Cahill, a star of the AMC series “Walking Dead.”

Casper’s Comic Con is the latest to be organized by Randolph, whose work to set up the event in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has since grown to include seven such events in six states.

After putting on the Colorado Springs event a number of years, Randolph organized one in Salina, Kansas.

Spectra, a company that manages events at venues including the Casper Events Center, then asked Randolph to put on a Comic Con in Enid, Oklahoma. The event was so popular that Randolph was asked to stage events at other venues related to Spectra.

“Now we’ve got shows from Grand Forks, North Dakota, to Beaumont, Texas,” he said.

The growth in Randolph’s work reflects the growing popularity of the events around the country, he said.

“They are becoming more popular,” he said. “It’s what’s ‘in’ right now.”

Randolph said he may add shows in three to four more states by next year and perhaps even one in Canada.

Many attendees at the events are people who attend any Comic Con they can get to, Randolph said, while others are just curious to see what the fuss is all about.

“The appeal is it is something different that some people have never done and they want to do it,” he said. 

Events will kick off Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m., with doors closing at 5 p.m. In addition to the toy, costume and comic book vendors, the events will feature daily costume contests at 3 p.m. — one for adults on Saturday and one for children on Sunday. Both offer cash prizes to the winners.

“The contests are free to enter,” Randolph said. “If you even have just a mask on, you can enter the contest.”

Cahill will appear at 1 p.m. each day.

For more information on the Casper Comic Con, visit its page on Facebook.

Glenrock’s Deer Creek Days offers wide variety of fun

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Deer Creek Days Volleyball in Glenrock

If variety is the spice of life, then Glenrock is the place to be this weekend for the community’s annual “Deer Creek Days” festival.

Rodeo, mud volleyball, a car show, concerts are just a few of the activities on tap for the 40th annual festival, with most of those events being open to the public at no charge, said Kristy Grant, director of the Glenrock Chamber of Commerce and chairman of Deer Creek Days.

“It’s really designed for family who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money,” she said. “With few exceptions, all the events are free.”

Until this year, Deer Creek Days had been an end-of-summer celebration in August, Grant said, but organizers agreed to move it to June to avoid competition with other festivals such as Casper’s Beartrap Summer Festival and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

“It was killing our attendance,” she said. “It made sense to change the date and change the focus from the end of summer to the beginning of summer.”

The response so far has been very positive, she said.

“Last year we had 17 vendors in our craft fair, this year we have over 40,” she said. “This year, food trucks are calling me and saying they want to come to Deer Creek Days.”

Deer Creek Days volleyball in Glenrock.

The weekend is full of a variety of activities, including a rodeo, concerts, a parade, a brewfest, ice cream social, “mutton busting,” a golf tournament, car show and more.

The full weekend of activities reflects the community’s desires to expand the festival over the years, Grant said.

“Every year, somebody would come forward and say ‘Can we do this’ and that’s how it evolved,” she said. “We do try to have something for everyone.”

Activities begin Friday with a cookout, gospel concert, “dummy roping” and a family concert by The Incorrigibles.

On Saturday, a 5K run/walk will open the day, followed by an art show, craft fair, parade, ice cream social and talent show.

A brewfest with live music and an “adult adventure zone” will open at noon Saturday.

The ranch rodeo will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday and a street concert by country musician Tris Munsick will wrap up the day.

Activities will resume Sunday with a car show, golf tournament, co-ed mud volleyball tournament, roping competitions, a horseshoe tournament, a comedy performance and a concert.

“There are a lot of things families can come do and have fun,” Grant said.

For more information, visit the Deer Creek Days page on Facebook.

A day of family fun at Hyattville Cowboy Carnival

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A day of family fun at Hyattville Cowboy Carnival

By Cowboy State Daily

Pie contests, sheep dog trials, a quilt show, horse races and many more activities are in the spotlight in northern Wyoming this weekend as Hyattville holds its annual Cowboy Carnival.

The carnival, now in its 16th year, will be held Sunday, drawing hundreds of people to the small community for what is described as a day of family-oriented fun.

“What we focus on is trying to make it a good family event, where we don’t have a lot of drinking and all of this other stuff,” said Linda Hamilton, treasurer for the Hyattville Community Center.

The day’s activities, which also include a fun run and photo show, are designed to raise money for the Community Center, a former elementary school that is now used as a hub for events ranging from weddings to reunions.

“We use it for weddings and funerals, any kind of event that anybody wants to host that they don’t have enough room for in their home,” Hamilton said. “There’s a gym, people can come in and do inside activities.”

The building also features a small library and exercise room and is operated for the benefit of residents of Hyattville, which is 41 miles northeast of Worland.

“Hyattville is a tiny little town … and there just aren’t any places to host events and places to take kids to let them run off steam and energy,” Hamilton said. “That was the goal, was to be able to use this building for all those activities.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hyattville has an average population of 81, and Hamilton said many of those residents are involved in staging the day’s activities.

“We have a good community that steps forward to do this,” Hamilton said. “It’s quite an event and it’s amazing that we can pull a community together and have them do this much.”

The event usually draws from 400 to 450 people, Hamilton said, and raises an average of $10,000 to help with the community center’s maintenance and operation.

Helping raise part of that money is the annual silent and live auction featuring items donated by area residents.

Bob Herman, who is in charge of both auctions, said the events available for sale vary widely.

“To be quite honest, it’s fairly random,” he said. “We get a certain amount of agriculture-related stuff. Certain people are more artistic and will make jewelry. There are usually a couple of paintings and we’ve had a quilt donated.”

Activities begin at 10 a.m. with the 5K run-walk and the final event is the live auction taking place at 3:30 p.m. In between will be horse racing — featuring riders from across the area — children’s events such as pony rides, a petting zoo and “Pony Express” stick horse races, a photography contest, a quilt contest and a pie contest.Also scheduled for the day are sheep dog trials — where working dogs are put through their paces herding livestock — and a shooting competition.

Many of the events, such as the quilt show, photo show and live music, will be held in the community center. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children and $25 for a family and includes a barbecue lunch.

More information on the Cowboy Carnival can be found by visiting the Hyattville Community Center’s website at Hyatville.org or the Hyattville Cowboy Carnival page on Facebook.

WyoCon features costumes, trivia contest, gaming

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WyoCon features costumes, trivia contest, gaming
Family members get their superhero on during a past WyoCon at the White Mountain Library in Rock Springs. This year’s WyoCon, to be held Saturday will feature events including a cosplay contest, a pop culture trivia game, panel discussions and presentations by Wyoming authors. (Photo courtesy of White Mountain Library)

Costumes, video gaming and panel discussions on major pop culture topics are on the schedule for this weekend’s WyoCon at the White Mountain Library in Rock Springs.

The WyoCon, now in its third year, is a one-day celebration of fandom and pop culture to be held form 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, said Aaron Volner, a public services librarian.

“It’s our attempt to bring a small slice of some of that larger ‘con’ experience here to southwestern Wyoming,” he said.

Events will include a small vendor hall, a pop culture trivia contest, video gaming and panel discussions on popular television series and movies such as “Harry Potter,” “Dr. Who” and “Firefly,” a science fiction television series that ran for only one season.

“Locally, we’ve got a very big ‘Firefly’ following here,” said Volner, the main organizer for the event.

Other activities will include presentations by Wyoming authors, a cosplay contest and themed “selfie stations” where people can take pictures of themselves with different pop culture-themed backdrops.

“The Dugout,” a game and comic store in Rock Springs, will also set up board games in the library, Volner said.Past WyoCons were held in 2016 and 2017 and Volner said the most recent event drew slightly more than 300 people.

For more information, visit the library’s website.

Learn about Bighorn Canyon NRA during “Junior Ranger Day”

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Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Junior Ranger Day this weekend

By Cowboy State Daily

People interested in learning more about the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area should visit the recreation area near Lovell this weekend for “Junior Ranger Day.”

The day is filled with activities designed to teach kids and adults about the activities available to them in the park, said Todd Johnson, a park ranger and visual information specialist for the recreation area.

“It’s to get them to experience what the park is all about,” he said. “We have different activities for them. We have developed ‘junior ranger’ booklets and they get stamps in their booklets as they finish different activities.”

The celebration is part of National Park Week, observed April 20 through 28. Part of that observation nationally is “Junior Ranger Day,” Johnson said, although each park or recreation area is allowed to set its own activities and schedule for the day.

“It’s meant to help you better understand the individual park that you’re visiting,” he said.

Activities available during Saturday’s event at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area will include fishing, geology and art, Johnson said. Participants will also be encouraged at one station to use a camera to take some photographs that they will then be able to post on social media.

Once the booklets are filled with stamps, participants can turn them in at the Bighorn Canyon Visitor Center to receive a National Park Week Junior Ranger badge.

While the activities are largely aimed at children, Johnson said it is not unusual to see adults visiting activity stations as well.

“Last year we had some women who just wanted to go ahead and participate, which is fantastic,” he said. “It’s a popular thing for adults to do as well, because they learn a lot.”

For more information, call the recreation area at (307) 548-5406.

Bakers battle in Gillette’s ‘Cupcake Wars’

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Gillette Cupcake Wars
The “Dr. Seuss” table prepared for a past “Cupcake Wars” competition to showcase the caramel latte cupcakes of Eurana Altizer and Jessica Howard. This year’s battle of the bakers will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Campbell County Public Library in Gillette. (Photo courtesy of the Campbell County Public Library)

By Cowboy State Daily

A battle of the bakers will take center stage this weekend as the Campbell County Public Library hosts its eighth annual “Cupcake Wars.”

More than 200 people are expected to visit the library Saturday to take part in the event, a fundraiser for the Campbell County Library Foundation and the final event in the library’s celebration of National Library Week.

There, they will sample cupcakes decorated according to each baker’s selected theme, such as the “Johnny Appleseed” cupcake entry (featuring apple pie cupcakes) or the “Elvis” cupcake seen in the past — featuring peanut butter and bananas.

“It’s really fun because people create their cupcakes and they also have a theme that they decorate their tables with,” said Genevieve Schlekeway, the library’s adult program coordinator. “It turns out to be a lot of work, too. We have 200-plus people come through the doors and people have to make a lot of cupcakes.”

The event began eight years ago as a way to raise matching funds for a state endowment program. Schlekeway said it was one of several events created to chase away the winter doldrums.

“It was the brainchild of someone working with the foundation,” she said. “She had a whole vision of ‘cabin fever relievers,’ a whole series of events. The Cupcake Wars is the one that hung around.”

Fourteen competitors will bring their baked and decorated cupcakes to the library, where they will spend most of a day decorating the 8-foot tables that will display their wares. 

“Some of (the tables) are very elegant and very elaborate,” Schlekeway said. “And some of the people come in costume.”

In addition to the “Elvis” themed cupcakes and table, past entries have included a 1950s “soda shop” theme, she said.The cupcakes will be judged by a panel including a local chef, a “junior” judge and three members of the library’s board of directors. Prizes will be awarded in three categories, a junior division for those under 18, an amateur division and an “experienced” division — for those who sell cupcakes.

The contest will also feature a “people’s choice” award determined in voting by the visitors who pay $5 each to sample the cupcakes.

Attendees at the event, to run from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, will also enjoy some entertainment from the Gillette Guitar Guild as they taste the cupcakes.

Money raised by the event will go to the foundation, which provides support for the library, such as bringing in authors to speak, providing continuing education classes and sponsoring fine art displays.

Outdoor living focus of Lander’s Garden Expo

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Outdoor living focus of Lander’s Garden Expo

By Cowboy State Daily

Outdoor living — whether gardening, enjoying the wonders of your own backyard or traveling the streams and mountains of nature — is the focus of this weekend’s Garden Expo in Lander.

Sponsored by the Popo Agie Conservation District, Saturday’s free Garden Expo is about much more than its name implies, according to Diana Olson, the district’s program assistant.

“It’s titled the Garden Expo because that is what people can remember,” she said. “But we have three target audiences — one is those who enjoy gardening, one is people who just love their backyards … and the third is outdoor recreationists.”

Now in its eighth year, the Expo, held at the Lander Valley High School, usually draws about 1,500 people with its mix of workshops and vendors and special events for kids.

The Expo started as a way for the conservation district to help the community that supports it with tax dollars, Olson said.

“One component that really motivates us is is we are supported by a mill levy,” she said. “So we try very hard to cater to everybody — the rural community and the urban community.”

When the event began, it was aimed at gardeners and people who “love their backyards, the people who love their decks, grills, fairy lights and ponds,” Olson said.

But organizers decided to expand the offerings to non-motorized outdoor recreation in year three.

“We considered the fact that our backyard is the Wind River Mountains, so we brought in the third component, which is outdoor recreation,” she said.

In addition to the more than 50 vendors offering goods, the Expo offers a choice of two workshops every hour. Workshops this year address topics such as attracting hummingbirds, managing lawns, drying foods and raising strawberries.

The event’s keynote speaker is Panayoti Kelaidis, senior curator and director of outreach for the Denver Botanic Garden, who will address “Rethinking Wyoming Landscapes.”

And as if the variety of workshops wasn’t enough, the Expo will feature a Kid’s Corner, petting zoo and horse-drawn wagon rides.

“It’s an extremely fun thing and then we sprinkle the sugar on top,” Olson said.

Concessions will also be available, including “world-famous” roast beef sandwiches served by the Lander Valley Cattle Women and food from Deb’s Bread Wagon.

For more information on this weekend’s Garden Expo, visit the event’s website at http://www.popoagie.org/garden-expo.html.

#TravelTuesday is Cowboy State Daily’s weekly spotlight of events + happening around the state that warrant a little windshield time and fulfill your Wyoming wanderlust.

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