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Cheyenne – The sandy beaches and impressive volcanoes of Hawaii seem worlds away from the rolling prairies and majestic mountains of Wyoming, but the two states have a 100-year connection laced with the makings of a legend.
    In 1908, after more than 10 years as a western frontier celebration and top regional rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days was looking to make a name for itself as a national rodeo.
    “Cheyenne Frontier Days was one of the first rodeos to try to celebrate the American West because Wyoming had such a strong culture of cowboys and ranch life,” says Old West Museum Curator of Exhibits Michael Kassel. “At that point it was thought the Old West was going away and everything would turn into modern America, so this was a celebration of things that were passing.”
    As the popularity of the CFD events grew, the celebration’s notoriety also grew and Hawaiian rancher Eben Low took a strong interest in the rodeo. Low had sponsored the first rodeo in Hawaii where Hawaiian cowboys, called Paniolos, could test the styles, methods and skills that were unique to the Paniolo trade.
    Low knew the Hawaiian ropers were wicked with a rope, says Kassel. While Low himself had lost a hand in a roping accident, he had other champions in mind, specifically his brother Jack Low, Archie Kaaua and Ikua Purdy.
    By 1907 CFD was known as the biggest and best rodeo in the world. That year Eben Low and his wife were traveling the U.S. when they arrived in Cheyenne to witness the renowned rodeo. After seeing the Wyoming cowboys compete, Low offered an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii for CFD’s “World Champion Steer Roper” to compete against his Paniolos.
    A man named Angus McPhee won the steer roping that year and accepted the challenge. He came to Honolulu in December 1907 and went up against the Paniolos.
    “According to [Mc-Phee’s] daughter, he fell off his horse and the steer charged him,” says Kassel. “There was a big dust cloud and everybody in the stands was horrified and thought he was killed because when the dust cleared, McPhee was on the ground and so was the animal. But the daughter said, ‘Oh, he just bulldogged him.’”
    The Hawaiians thought McPhee’s feat was wonderful, but it wasn’t the event he had set out to win and the Wyoming cowboy walked away without the win.
    The next year, it was Wyoming’s turn to welcome Hawaii. Low had decided to send Jack Low, Archie Kaaua and Ikua Purdy to compete against the Wyoming champions. The Cheyenne papers followed the three Hawaiians in their trip from the islands to the prairie. They were reported as thinking California was freezing cold in August, but once they reached the Cowboy State, all anyone would talk about was their tremendous roping skills.
    Until 1908 Wyoming cowboys had taken the championship every year, but that was about to change. When the Wyoming cowboys got their first look at the Paniolo competition, they knew they were in trouble, says Kassel.
    The day of the competition the Hawaiians made history. They had a slow start with Jack Low’s go when he fell victim to the high altitude and struggled through his run. Then Kaaua’s turn came up and he tied his steer in one minute and 10 seconds. At the time, anything under one minute and 30 seconds was considered championship quality, says Kassel.
    After Kaaua’s lightning run, Purdy was the only Paniolo left. His fellow Hawaiians had set the bar high, and when he threw his loop, the crowd thought he had lost. The steer was running through the loop when a sharp snap from Purdy cinched it around the animal’s middle. The rope continued to slide down the animal when another sharp snap drew the rope up around the steer’s hind feet and down he went. He tied his animal in one minute and seven seconds. Purdy hadn’t made a mistake as the crowd thought; he had roped in Paniolo style.
    The rest of the event found cowboy after cowboy racing to beat Purdy’s time, but none could do it and Purdy walked away the World Champion Steer Roper. Kaaua also received third place and Jack Low took sixth.
    The three Paniolos returned to Hawaii where they were greeted by huge crowds and celebrations.
    “Everyone wanted to see the champion of the world,” says Kassel. “[Purdy] was wined and dined by the king, he had songs and hulas written about him and they have statues erected in his memory, just because of his victory here in Cheyenne.”
    The victory for the Paniolos also turned into a success for the CFD celebration.
    “Ikua Purdy became a legend,” says Kassel. “Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1908 became a national sporting event, it was the first time Wyoming lost the championship and it was the first year at our current location. It really was a banner year for Cheyenne Frontier Days.”
    Several events featuring the Hawaiian Paniolos are taking place at CFD including an exhibit called “Hawaiians Take Cheyenne!” running through Nov. 15 at the Old West Museum. A complete schedule of Paniolo activities is available at www.oldwestmuseum.org.
    Liz LeSatz is the 2008 Summer Intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Shearing barn laced with state’s history
Walcott – A 1982 “Wallop for Senate” bumper sticker plastered to a door surrounded by decades of lanolin buildup from millions of sheep may best tell the story of the Australian-style Walcott shearing barn.  
    Barn owners Vern and Della Vivion told attendees at the 2008 Wyoming Livestock Roundup historic ranch tour that the building served as the shearing facility for the area’s expansive sheep operations and as the area’s social gathering point. Social gatherings included fundraisers and gatherings for political candidates.
    Efforts are underway to either preserve the barn in its present-day location or relocate it to Territorial Park in Laramie, an effort that would take nearly $2 million to complete. Della said a recently secured $10,000 grant may be the beginning of what she hopes will be a growing fund. Wyoming’s State Historic Preservation Office has also taken an interest in the building by compiling a great deal of its history in written form.
    “This building where we stand, which still has so much of its integrity, in eight years will be a hundred years old. It was built in 1916,” said Della. Located near the railroad tracks, wool sheared at the barn was loaded on the train and shipped to Boston in the early days.
    Area shearing facilities were first located at nearby Fort Steele and operated by the Cosgriff family. Della said when an area saloon proved too distracting for shearing crews the facilities were relocated to the Walcott area. Remnants of the old town of Walcott and the shearing barn were part of the Sept. 21 tour organized by locals Bill and Carole Ward and Dick and Marty Perue, all of Saratoga. Perue offered a first-hand account of stomping wool into the wool bags at the barn during his younger days.
In 1915 three local sheep operations – the Leo Sheep Company owned by Le Emmitt Vivion, the Savage Brothers Company and Andy Nelson & Company – purchased the Walcott shearing operation from the Cosgriffs. Completed in 1916, the barn was part of a University of Wyoming effort to add efficiency to shearing and to sort wool by its quality. The barn was last used in the 1980s. Built for 20 sheep shearers to use simultaneously, Della said Curt Rochelle, Elmer Peterson, the Palms and more used the facilities.
    “This has been a cultural center in a sense,” said Della. Laughing, she added, “In my young days here, it was so that if you didn’t come to the Walcott shearing sheds for dinner on Sunday, you just weren’t anybody. In fact, we had Paul Harvey here for dinner once.”
    The Pace family, owners of the TA Ranch since 1976, welcomed tour attendees with a great deal of hospitality to their ranch located between I-80 and Saratoga on the flanks of Elk Mountain. Perue, an avid historian, told the story of struggling early day homesteaders who first came to the land that now makes up the 80,000-acre ranch. The ranch’s elevation averages 7,500 feet, making high altitude disease a consideration when purchasing cattle.
    The ranch’s General Business Manager Clay Humphreys joked, “While it’s true we did come up from Texas, please don’t think of us as latecomers or interlopers. In fact, the ground we stand on now was once part of the panhandle of the Republic of Texas.” Humphreys said the ranch is a cow-calf operation with a great deal of native grass hay land. Hunting on the ranch is offered through Cabelas.
    Information new to many tour participants was Perue’s story of William F. Swan. Brother to well-known southeast Wyoming rancher Alexander Swan, William founded the town of Swan, which later became Riverside. He also ranched at the base of Elk Mountain on land that is now part of the TA Ranch. “The only fence on the ranch was that around the hay field at the headquarters,” said Perue.
    Driving through the TA Ranch and on through Pass Creek, the tour concluded at the historic, and scenic, Elk Mountain Hotel in Elk Mountain. The hotel was built in 1905 and renovated in 2005 with its historic authenticity in mind. Including a top-notch restaurant, additional information on the Elk Mountain Hotel can be found online at www.elkmountainhotel.com.
    Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Lander – The Lander Valley CattleWomen (LVCW) recognized and filled a need in the community with an outreach event for college students from the Wyoming Catholic College.

On Sept. 18, the LVCW hosted the first Wyoming Catholic College (WCC) Ag Day Symposium at the Popo Agie Ranch south of Lander.

“Other people reach out to their colleges and communities, and we do things as well,” says Diane Frank of the LVCW. “We do an ag expo with the third graders, among other educational events.”

But Frank noticed a disconnect in the educational outreach efforts to older students and young adults.

“It’s good to have them at the third grade level,” says Frank, “but I think it is also important at this level because these people are here from somewhere else, and they don’t really know about the customs and culture of Wyoming, including ranching and what it stands for.”

“I think it is important for people at the college level to come and learn from other adults about our way of life,” adds Frank.

“We need to establish who we are and why we are here,” continues Frank. “Hopefully we can help these students understand the way of life we have in Wyoming is very unique. It is a honest way of life that boasts freedom.”

The LVCW organized the event, with avid support from the administration and trustees of WCC, and hosted a total of 60 students, WCC administrators, media representatives, visiting CattleWomen, guest presenters and LVCW and their families at the Popo Agie Ranch, owned by Dave and Darlene Vaughan.

The presentations, which lasted just over two hours, covered topics ranging from stewardship and conservation, predators, beef production and cows to ranch life in Fremont County and the relevancy of agriculture to communities.

Students and guests alike were actively engaged in the presentations, asking questions and expressing their curiosity about Wyoming’s long-standing ranching traditions.

Presenters included LVCW Darlene Vaughn, Timmery Hellyer and Anjie McConnell, as well as Brian DeBolt of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and local veterinarian Jessica Blake.

WCC students were surprised by some of the facts and information they learned at the presentation, and they said Lander is a wonderful community.

Trey Pierre, a WCC student from Nebraska, said, “Even though Nebraska is a farming state, I’m one of the city kids, so I had no clue about any of this. I have a lot to learn.”

“It is interesting to see all the things that are involved in cattle ranching and how integral it is to society,” continued Pierre.

Pierre’s classmate Sam Kirwan, also from Nebraska, said, “It was really interesting to see how friendly all the ranchers are and how much they like ranching. I am very interested in how much work ranching is, yet everyone seems to be very cheerful.”

California students Clayton Lang, Caleb Cervantes and Paul Roundtree also found surprising aspects in Wyoming agriculture.

“I was shocked that one cow eats two tons of hay each season,” said Lang. “That is a lot. I had no idea it takes that much.”

Cervantes echoed Lang’s comments, adding, “It is most shocking to see how much hay costs – $200 to $300 per ton in Texas. I don’t know how big a standard herd is, but if you figure two tons per cow, that is a huge expense.”

He continued, “The expenses in agriculture, like how much tractors cost, was really shocking, as well.”

“I really like the presentation about what ranch life is really like from a woman and a family that does this every day,” said Roundtree. “I just never really thought about what ranch life was like before.”

Though each student comes from a different background and found different pieces of information intriguing, they all gained an increased awareness of Wyoming agriculture.

Frank emphasized, “Ranchers keep up on education, genetics, health and welfare of the animals, agronomy, business economics and banking, as well as stewardship of land to include private, state and federal owned land, legislative issues and legal issues.”

Overall, Frank was adamant that agriculture and ranching isn’t just a “play day” everyday, but rather is a business.

“The CattleWomen’s mission is for the education and promotion of beef. It’s not just the sale and consumption of the product, it’s the whole ball of wax,” said Frank. “What better opportunity do we have than a beautiful day with the wonderful people from the industry?”

Saige Albert is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Big Piney – Now in their second year, Kari Bousman, Sno Ann Engler, Sandy Wright and the Sublette County Conservation District (SCCD) are reaching out to youth at the Sublette County Fair to increase their knowledge about agriculture with the Kids Ag Connection.

“Our main goal is to just expose people to different things in agriculture,” says Bousman, who founded the program last year. “We hope it interests the kids enough to do some research later on.”

In the first year of the program, Bousman, Engler and Wright set up four different animal sessions where kids, largely from three years old up to second grade, could learn about different animal species in fun and hands-on presentations.

“Last year we had a milk cow, goats, sheep and chickens,” says Bousman. “The kids got to see a goat get milked and made butter by shaking cream in a jar.”

“It’s labor intensive at first,” says Bousman. “It all works out in the end, though.”

Community members teach each animal session, including 4-H members who presented their rabbits and chickens and adults who spoke about horses and calves.

“This year we decided to do a booth and animal sessions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” explains Bousman. “The main idea of the booth is to educate about all the different animals, and we wanted to add in brands. We are painting brands on kids while telling them what a brand is.”

As part of the booth, various posters about the individual species educate youth unable to make the animal sessions. The booth also features a display of different grains for feed, the chick lifecycle, a horse hoof and a contest to guess the number of rabbit pellets in a jar.

This year, Pinedale FFA members Ryan Wright and Heather Owens have taken an active role in the booth by educating the young people who stop by, and youth attending the animal session come away with much more than just agricultural knowledge.

“Whoever comes to the session gets a free goodie bag with information and a t-shirt,” says Bousman. “They are really getting a lot when they come to the animal sessions.”

The bag also includes a popsicle, 4-H and beef temporary tattoos and stickers and an activity book put together by members of the SCCD. The activity book has a number of coloring pages, activity pages and fun facts about the animals featured in each session.

Bousman says she is very happy with the level of participation and the size of the project.

“Last year we had 30 to 40 kids at each animal session. We’re hoping to hit that and get more this year,” says Bousman.

This year, people from across Sublette County attended the animal sessions, including Pinedale day care provider Judi Boyce.

“It’s a really good idea,” says Boyce of the program. “The kids really enjoyed holding the animals.”

Boyce brought four children from her daycare to attend two of the animal sessions this year.

“Last year, we didn’t know about it, but this year they called our daycare and brought us a flyer,” says Boyce.

“I loved it,” said Nick Boyce, the seven-year-old son of Judi Boyce. “I didn’t know that bunnies have different hair or that they are blind when they are born.”

“I really want to come back next time,” added Nick.

In order to run the program, SCCD, Green River Valley Cattleman’s Association, Green River Valley Cattlewomen and the Sublette County Fair Board have provided both monetary resources and support.

“Our conservation district has really been a strong supporter behind Kids Ag Connection,” says Bousman. “They let us use their office and printing materials. They also take care of our money. This year the Fair Board pitched in so we could buy t-shirts.”

Bousman feels the second year of the project was very successful, and plans to continue in the future.

“Right now we are going to keep this level, with just the booth and animal sessions. I would love to have barn tours in the future,” says Bousman.

Bousman will continue working with the SCCD during the school year in the hope of introducing Kids Ag Connection to the Sublette County after-school program.

“I’m hoping to take the individual sessions from here and take them into the after school program,” says Bousman. “I would love for this to expand farther.”

Bousman feels it is incredibly beneficial for everyone who attends, explaining that there are so many misconceptions about agriculture today.

“It’s a shocker to a lot of kids when we talk about eating rabbits, because they think of rabbits as a pet instead of an agricultural tool,” says Bousman, providing examples of some of the things kids have learned. “So many people think it is animal cruelty to make horses work hard, for example. They don’t understand that some horses just aren’t happy unless they are working.”

Not only is the Kids Ag Connection a program she started, but Bousman is also able to identify with youth who are unfamiliar with agriculture.

“I didn’t grow up ranching, so I can see from both worlds,” explains Bousman. “I lived in a farming community, but I didn’t appreciate things like the different types of grasses or cows.”

Since becoming more involved in ranching, Bousman says, “I’ve become passionate about agriculture.”

Saige Albert is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cheyenne – At the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (WyFB) annual convention in Cheyenne Nov. 10-12, WyFB President Perry Livingston addressed his fellow members updating them on national issues in which the WyFB and the American Farm Bureau Federation are involved.

He said one of the big things related to agriculture is the 2012 farm bill.

“The Senate and House ag committees have been working on it since early September, and it’s really a moving target,” said Livingston. “We’re all aware, by now, that direct payments will be gone – they probably won’t even get through 2012.”

Livingston said that, as the farm bill now stands, a small portion of producers’ losses – 15 to 20 percent – will be protected with shallow loss protection, and after that crop insurance will be the only real protection, should there be a major occurrence.

“At this point the House and Senate ag committees will send their proposals to the super committee, which is a group of Congressmen from the House and Senate who will determine the final numbers, so that’s a real challenge for American agriculture on how to react,” said Livingston.

Livingston pointed out another item that’s been pending for four or five years is the free trade agreements.

“There are a few who question whether we really need these trade agreements, and I’m here to say yes, we do,” he noted. “Those three agreements will mean $2.5 billion in increased agricultural trade, and the majority of that will be to Korea.”

Along with others who spoke at the convention, Livingston expressed his concern over the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) dust regulations.

“If they’re allowed to be implemented, the EPA rules on dust could potentially destroy agriculture in large sections of the United States,” he said. “EPA doesn’t understand, and they insist on following and chasing these rules that are detrimental to the economy and to the United States.”

Livingston noted that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is trying to enforce the daily hourly rule for drivers for harvesters and spring planting operations.

“We all know that when planting time comes, and the weather is cooperating, eight or 10 hours of work for farmers and ranchers is not enough. You don’t have enough time to get your work done when the weather is cooperating, but the DOT doesn’t care. Congress has to challenge that, and there’s a law that has been introduced that would exempt farmers and ranchers during planting and harvesting times of the year,” said Livingston. “It’s unfortunate that it has to come to that – that these regulations are coming down from federal agencies.”

“I started milking a cow when I was five years old, and raking hay when I was six years old, and I was in violation of their rule,” said Livingston of the Department of Labor proposal that would limit the age that children are allowed to work on farms and ranches. “With this rule, you can’t hire the neighbor kid to come over and help stack bales, and we stacked a lot of bales for the neighbors. If the Department of Labor gets their way, we won’t be able to do that, but that’s how a lot of the work gets done on family farms and ranches.”

“On the American and Wyoming front, legal issues continue to be a topic of discussion,” said Livingston. “It seems like every few days there’s a new front that American agriculture must defend.”

Livingston encouraged producers who may be in the bulls eye of the EPA or other rules to get in touch with WyFB Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton and the legal team at American Farm Bureau Federation.

“They are very familiar with these things, and they would be more than happy to visit with you on your specific issues.”

Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..