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Wyoming’s premier summer event: A full Wyoming State Fair planned for August

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Despite months of canceled concerts, rodeos and festivals, Wyoming residents can still look forward to the state’s premier summer event – the Wyoming State Fair (WSF), slated to take place Aug. 11-15 and jam-packed with twinkling carnival lights, deep-fried food and some of the most competitive livestock shows in the region. 

Although actually being able to attend the big event may be the most exciting aspect for some, WSF attendees will be welcomed by some charming new changes this year. 

            “We are so excited we are able to have the fair this year, because for awhile we didn’t know how things were going to shake out,” states WSF Manager Courtny Conkle. “We have been working since last fall on improving the grounds, bringing in diverse vendors and events and making sure Wyoming State Fair 2020 is one of the best.” 

She continues, “I’m excited we can offer an event to stimulate the local and state economies, and I think we all need a place to go and have a good time this summer. I am viewing it as a big family reunion for the entire state of Wyoming. We are going to get together, remember what is important, have a lot of fun and be responsible while doing it.” 

Layout changes 

            “First and foremost, we are focused on health and safety. We have always been focused on health and safety, but this year it is taking center stage,” Conkle explains. “Our changes to accomplish this won’t change the face of the fair or the experience our guests will have, there will just be more opportunities for our staff and visitors to stay healthy.” 

            As part of this goal, the state fair has implemented several layout changes to the grounds.

            “We have some exciting new layout changes, some due to COVID-19 and some due to our master plan,” Conkle says. “We actually designed most of these changes based on our master plan, but they work out well now that we are living through a global pandemic.” 

            One of these changes includes an additional walkway, directly connecting the equine facilities to the livestock facilities.

            “Our north and south connector not only provides a direct walkway from equine to livestock, it also provides another path to help with social distancing,” 

Conkle notes.

            She also points out the carnival will be moved to a grassy area in the middle of the grounds and additional parking will be added by the grandstands.

            Another change the state fair has implemented is the addition of a secondary beer garden, which will be located in the Wyoming Business Mercantile building on the Midway. 

            Conkle notes the building will be Old West saloon themed and will offer live music from local talent.

Novel entertainment

            “We are also excited to be able to offer a full line up for our grandstand entertainment. We have the ranch rodeo, the demolition derby and everything in between,” Conkle says. “For most people, this will be the first opportunity they have in 2020 to come out and see live music. It is an honor to serve as the venue for that.”

            Conkle notes the concert, scheduled for Aug. 13 at 7 p.m., will be headlined by Reckless Kelly, featuring Jeremy McComb. 

The grandstands will also host a variety of other fan favorites including the Ranch Rodeo with Mutton Bustin’ on Aug. 8, Pig n’ Mud Wrestling on Aug. 11, Octane Addictions Freestyle Motocross Show Featuring X-Games Legends on Aug. 12, the PRCA Rodeo on Aug. 14 and the Demolition Derby on Aug. 15. 

            In addition to their grandstand lineup, Conkle says they are starting a new program, spotlighting a different featured act every year in the paved area between Fort Fetterman and Fort Reno, free with fair admission. The featured act for the state fair this year will be released mid-July. 

Rebranding and other WSF changes 

According to Conkle, the changes will trickle down to the livestock shows as well. 

            “For the first time, we will be doing breed breakout shows for our big four – beef, swine, sheep and goats,” she explains. “Exhibitors will have the chance to win champion in their respective breeds, as well as an overall species champion. This is going to offer some more platforms for our exhibitors to succeed in.”

She also notes one of the most exciting changes WSF has undergone is its complete rebranding facelift.

“Our complete rebranding process began in October. The new brand initiative was unanimously approved by the board at their June meeting and was released a few weeks ago,” Conkle notes. “We wanted something to breathe new life into the brand, but keep the heritage of the Wyoming State Fair.”

            The brand refresh includes a new logo and color palette, new website and updated marketing materials. 

            Despite the facelift, Conkle notes the new logo plays off the previous one by featuring Steamboat at the center with a sunburst backdrop.

            “It was important our new brand reflect the nostalgia and excitement of what a fair means to so many and connects with generations of fairgoers and participants,” Conkle says.

            “We worked closely with our marketing agency in creating a new look that represents what makes WSF special. The fair has always been an event that has showcased the culture and heritage of Wyoming and has been a constant thread weaving through the fabric of Wyoming’s history,” Conkle continues. “It is not just about the entertainment value, it is about celebrating Wyoming, honoring our agriculture roots and supporting innovation and youth development.”  

Health and safety measures

In addition to added social distancing measures, Conkle says limiting the spread of coronavirus and keeping everyone safe is going to be a team effort.

            “We are all going to have to do our part as citizens. Everyone needs to be respectful and mindful,” she says.

            She also notes the fair has implemented a few restrictions including reduced occupancy in buildings, limited tickets for grandstand events, increased opportunity for hand washing and sanitization and onsite personal protective equipment (PPE), although PPE is not required on the grounds.

            “We also have two health consultants who will be offering training for janitorial and security positions, so we know how to protect everyone at the fair,” she explains. “I think it is so important because we are really setting the standard of expectation before the fair even starts.” 

            She also encourages those who wish to attend grandstand events to purchase tickets as soon as they go on sale on July 3, since occupancy is restricted.

            Hannah Bugas is the managing editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to roundup@wylr.net.

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