Current Edition

current edition

Wyoming State Fair

Douglas – Concerning the 2009 Wyoming State Fair, Fair Director James Goodrich says the preliminary numbers show the crowds that traveled to the state fairgrounds in Douglas were very good and about even with 2008.
    “Our daily gate appears to be up about 10 percent from last year, and our numbers were very good at the midway and livestock events,” says Goodrich. “For the most part our vendors did a good deal of business.”
    He says the vendor credentials for parking and season passes roughly doubled from last year, and that season camping was up substantially. “Operationally, we knew the campground was very full, and the recent improvements could have had something to do with that, and the fact that people were budgeting and camping instead of staying in hotels.”
    Despite substantial increases in some areas, Goodrich says they were balanced in others with a decline in season pin purchases and season meals at the cafeteria, although daily meals at the cafeteria were up.
    Goodrich says ticketed events were also a mixed picture, with some up and some down. “The ranch rodeo, miniature bull riding and chuck wagon races were down some, and the concert was down a little bit compared to last year but it still went very well and had a good crowd,” he says.
    The PRCA rodeo remained steady in attendance, with a slight decline in bull riding Thursday night.
    Regarding 4-H and FFA participation in livestock shows, Goodrich says the solid count is not yet in, but a general trend shows beef cattle numbers were up, as were lambs and goats, with hogs down slightly.
    “Overall that translates to an increase in entries across all livestock,” he notes. “We weren’t overcrowded in the livestock barns, but they were full.”
    Goodrich says the showrings new this year were one of the biggest highlights. “We got a lot of compliments on the showrings, and they were utilized very well,” he comments, noting that scheduling between the goat and sheep shows will have to be worked out for next year. “With the increase in goat entries we need to adjust for increased numbers in 2010.”
    The Mustang Challenge was held for the second time this year in the horse barn arena. “The Mustang Challenge saw a decrease in attendance from last year, but it was a good crowd,” says Goodrich, noting there weren’t as many horses and trainers this year and the auction following the event didn’t bring in the high dollars of the initial competition. “They still got them all sold and adopted out,” he notes.
    New this year to the State Fair was the Murray Grey cattle show, whose participants were pleased with the event, says Goodrich.  “My hope is they continue to hold the show here and give it a chance to grow,” he says. “Quite a few of them came from a long distance away, with quite a commitment and expense. They had a solid show and their numbers were good with a decent crowd.”
    The Murray Grey cattle were on display in two full aisles in the beef cattle barn alongside the other open and youth beef cattle.
    The same declines and increases were typical for different aspects of the 2009 exhibits. “Floriculture and horticulture entries were up substantially, while some areas of the 4-H static exhibits were down,” says Goodrich, adding that the state hay show was down, which was expected for this year.
    The demonstration featuring the construction of a high tunnel drew a lot of interest, according to Goodrich, and it now stands on the old dairy show ring lawn next to the Ag and Natural Resources Building. “The demonstrator had a lot of requests for information, and now the high tunnel will be on permanent display for a number of years to come,” he explains. “If we can we’ll probably use it for plants that will be used here on the ground to make it an active demonstration.”
    Goodrich calls the 2009 Wyoming State Fair a “good solid event overall” as the fairgrounds facilities look toward fall and a Senior Pro Rodeo in late August and the state FFA leadership conference this fall.
    Christy Hemken 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..

Douglas – The 105th Wyoming State Fair launched on Aug. 11 with the Ft. Fetterman Remount Horse Sale, and the week ahead provides a hotbed of activity for Douglas and the Wyoming State Fairgrounds.

“We don’t have much ‘new’ going on around the fair this year, but we’re really focusing on highlighting some of our favorite activities,” says Derek Grant, Wyoming Department of Agriculture Public Information Officer. “As a part of a state-wide effort by Wyoming agencies, we are keeping the grounds open on Aug. 20-21 following the fair for visitors of the area to enjoy the grounds, take in a little entertainment and shop with our vendors who remain on the grounds.”

New year, new fair

Wyoming State Fair Director James Goodrich says, “Preparing for the 105th Wyoming State Fair and Rodeo has brought our mission and purpose into the spotlight.”

“We must focus on planning ahead in a manner that will not jeopardize our core of long-standing traditions as we take our events and programs into the future,” he continues.

Goodrich explains that the Wyoming State Fairgrounds provide opportunities which benefit the state and community, and numerous renovations across the grounds to facilities will provide the ability to meet demands for the future.

“Now, we must evaluate our activities and attractions to keep pace with the changing priorities of the people of Wyoming,” Goodrich says. “We look forward to reviewing the annual state fair and supporting organizations in the coming year to emerge with a renewed spirit and to offer quality, exciting opportunities to our core supporters and newcomers alike.”

Highlighting agriculture

With a focus on the future, Grant notes that the events that highlight the agriculture industry in Wyoming, including the Commercial Heifer Show and competitions surrounding honey.

“I personally like the Commercial Heifer Show because, while it isn’t a new event, they aren’t typical show cattle,” Grant says. “These cattle aren’t trained or groomed, and they are generally shown in the way that they would be sold at sale barns in the state.”

“The Commercial Heifer Show is a nice way to maintain our connection to the livestock industry that’s so important to our state,” he adds.

For the second time this year, Grant also says the Wyoming State Fair will continue several competitions surrounding honey, which came up after interest from the beekeeping community in the state of Wyoming.

Categories including cooking with honey and natural honey divisions.

As a new category, natural honey can be entered and will be displayed as light, amber or dark amber, honey combs, dry packaged combs or creamed or spun honey.

Going mobile

Among a few new additions to this year’s fair, the Wyoming State Fair has a new website and mobile app.

“Our goal with the website and mobile app is to help people get information easily and navigate their way around the Wyoming State Fair,” Grant explains.

The website, which has increase visual components, provides an easy-to-read schedule and online ticket sales, among other features.

“The app has a nice schedule, an interactive map, links to our social media accounts and more.”

The app is available for both Android and Apple devices by visiting the Google Play Store or App Store and searching “Wyoming State Fair.”

“We'll hope both of these tools will make it easier for people to navigate the fair and enjoy their time on the grounds,” Grant comments.

Grandstand schedule

The 2017 Wyoming State Fair also has an amended grandstand schedule to provide entertainment for crowds.

“We still have the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) Ram Rodeo on Aug. 12-13,” Grant says. “The Pig ‘N Mud Wrestling is set for Aug. 16, and the Kid’s Spectacular Family Fun night on Aug. 17.”

Then, Grant says, “we’ll host Old Dominion in concert on Aug. 18, and the Demolition Derby is set for Aug. 19.”

The week concludes with the State Finals Ranch Rodeo on Aug. 20.

“We put the ranch rodeo on Sunday, so visitors to the state who are taking in the eclipse can see what a ranch rodeo looks like,” he says. “Overall, our entertainment has shifted, but the schedule is still full of great events for the Wyoming State Fair.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Douglas – On May 25, the Converse County Tourism and Visitor Center hosted a meeting at the Douglas Public Library with the goal of discussing how to work together to show community support for the Wyoming State Fair (WSF).

With a variety of attendees, State Fair Advisory Board Member Joe Rankin and WSF Director James Goodrich looked at the importance of the fair and emphasized a focus on the future.

“Tight budget times give us a chance to look to the future,” Rankin said. “It’s a positive look toward the past, too.”

Importance

Rankin noted WSF is a tradition for many families around Wyoming and serves as a gathering place for the agriculture community.

“My family has been involved with WSF before I was born, and I’ve attended every year since I was born – as a family member, parent, commercial vendor, Fair Posse member and now as a member of the Advisory Board,” he said. “WSF is a tradition and a passion, not just for my family and me but for many people around the state.”

In addition, Rankin noted visitors to the fair from around the country have indicated that it is a “comfortable and homey state fair without the commercial production of larger fairs.”

The positive reviews provide more reason for the fair to continue as an agriculture-based event, and he looks forward to improving the event.

“I’m sure Wyoming will bounce back from our economic situation, but until then, we’ll do all we can to keep WSF great,” Rankin said.

Funding

To fund the activities on the grounds, Goodrich noted WSF receives an annual appropriation in the biennial budget that amounts to approximately $3 million – a sum which was reduced dramatically in the 2017 session of the Wyoming Legislature.

WSF also receives some funding from Converse County, and they receive a portion of Converse County’s lodging taxes.

“That $3 million is augmented by what we call enterprise funds,” he continued. “It is mandated that we use those enterprise funds to supplement our budget.”

Two enterprise funds exist – a fair time enterprise fund and a fund for non-fair activities.

The fair time fund includes revenue from fees, admissions, etc. during the event.

“That money is deposited in the fair time fund and held there,” Goodrich said.

Fees collected from activities held on the fairgrounds the rest of the year are deposited into the non-fair fund, which is used to pay for utilities, maintenance and contract services to keep the grounds operational year-round.

“The fair time enterprise funds are used to supplement our General Fund budget,” he continued. “The enterprise funds remain in an account, and we have to ask for permission to use those funds. We go to the budget office, the Governor’s office and, ultimately, the Appropriations Committee of the Legislature to utilize those funds.”

With budget reductions this year, Goodrich noted that WSF also received spending authority to utilize their enterprise fund, but he also cautioned that the strategy is not sustainable.

“This spending authority gets us through the 2017 State Fair and this biennium,” he said. “However, as we deplete those enterprise funds, we aren’t in a position to generate enough right now to continually offset a reduction in General Fund money.”

At the same time, during strong budget times, Goodrich noted WSF was cautioned against maintaining balances that were too large in their enterprise funds.

“We were cautioned about having too large of balances in the enterprise funds because we would risk losing General Fund money,” he said. “We were asked to spend those balances down.”

WSF did spend from the enterprise accounts, but Goodrich said, “We still lost General Funding, and we don’t have those balances to rely on. It’s put us in a position going forward where funding is going to become very critical.”

Expenses

“It’s expensive to maintain the fair and the grounds,” Goodrich continued.

Throughout the year, WSF requires an average of $25,000 per month to cover utilities costs. 

The 118-acre fairgrounds contain 62 structures, which cover a little over 500,000 square feet of space. Four employees conduct maintenance across the grounds.

“When we compare that to other facilities, we have about one employee for every five that others have,” Goodrich explained. “We try to maximize and optimize our resources.”

Goodrich commented that they have also worked to maintain older equipment, rather than buying new equipment.

“We’ve also been very fortunate to get a lot of major maintenance money,” he said, noting that the fairgrounds have received just over $4 million since 2007 for major renovations, including structural, painting and drainage improvements.

The Wyoming State Fairgrounds has also seen over $15 million in capital construction, namely in the Stallion Show Center and Pepsi Equine Center, in the past 10 years.

“We’ve been very fortunate to see that money, but it has also increased our load for maintenance and operations,” Goodrich said. “Those buildings don’t take care of themselves.”

Challenges

With its large size and minimal staff, WSF is also challenged by the small size of Douglas and Converse County.

Many other fairgrounds around the nation are centered in larger cities, like Boise, Idaho and Billings, Mont.

“They are in larger population areas and are supported by a larger population base,” Goodrich said. “We’re not in that position.”

Others are managed by private entities that are aggressive in their marketing areas.

“As part of a state agency, we have other challenges,” Goodrich said. “There are procedures, checks and balances. It’s frustrating and slows down everything, but it is an important part of having public funding.”

Moving forward

“Can there be changes to our fair? You bet. We all have ideas and suggestions, and we’re going to do what we have to do,” Goodrich commented.

To gather input from around the state on the best direction for the future of WSF, Goodrich, the Wyoming Board of Agriculture and Wyoming State Fair Advisory Board will conduct meetings.

“We’re taking on the aggressive and daunting task of having meetings of the districts of the Board of Agriculture,” Goodrich said. “We’ll likely have two to three meetings in every district.”

The meetings will be publicized as they are scheduled.

“We have a lot of ground to cover, a lot to take on and a lot of challenges ahead,” Goodrich said, “but we’re trying to tackle it.”

Members of the Wyoming Legislature also addressed the meeting. Look for more from this meeting in an upcoming edition of the Roundup.

Saige Albert 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..

Douglas – Nearly $100,000 has been raised toward the goal of $500,000 for the 2012 Wyoming State Fair.

The 2012 event marks 100 years of the event and promises to be packed with special events and improvements to the state fairgrounds.

A grant by the state of Wyoming provides matching funds when the $100,000 fundraising goal is reached, and matching dollars continue up to $250,000.
Individuals have the opportunity to help in fundraising efforts by purchasing any of several commemorative items.

Heritage pins and bracelets are now available, giving purchasers admission to the Wyoming State Fair for 100 years and these items are transferrable. A limited number of only 1,000 pins and bracelets will be produced, and each is individually numbered. The purchase of a heritage pin or bracelet also grants admission to a special event and grandstand events (excluding concerts) during the 2012 state fair. Heritage pins and bracelets are available for only $250.

By contributing a hundred year steer with the one-time cost of a steer calf or yearling steer or $750 cash, contributors receive all the benefits of pin or bracelet purchase, as well as recognition on the 100th Wyoming State Fair Monument and the chance to win a commemorative saddle, as well as a buckle. Only 150 buckles will be produced, making the item a collectible.

By purchasing all three items, the Wyoming State Fair will give the purchaser the opportunity to choose the number for all three items, completing a 100th State Fair collector’s set.

Additionally, the first 10 numbered bracelets, pins and buckles will be sold at auction to the highest bidder.
Two styles of boots will also be sold to commemorate the 100th Wyoming State Fair, available for $495 a pair. Boots feature an embroidered logo and are available in two colors.

With the upcoming holiday season, any one of the commemorative items is a great gift idea for your friends and family that enjoy attending state fair every year, says the committee.

Photos of all items are available at wystatefair.com.

Contributions will be used to finance special commemorative awards for youth and adult exhibitors, an illustrated commemorative book as well as permanent improvements to the grounds.  Fundraising efforts will also go toward providing special events and attractions for the 100th Wyoming State Fair.

While fundraising constrains the events that will be held, the committee has discussed adding a number of special attractions to the 100th state fair celebration events. Ideas include providing an additional concert featuring a rock n’ roll band, additional contests and displays from each county in the state.

The theme for the 100th Wyoming State Fair is “Times Change, Traditions Remain,” and fundraising efforts provide the unique opportunity for contributors to be an integral part of the celebration.

For more information, call 307-358-2398, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit wystatefair.com. Saige Albert is 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..

Douglas – On Oct. 18, the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee of the Wyoming Legislature gathered at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds with the purpose of discussing the potential for improvements to the Wyoming State Fair.

With a focus on youth development and maintaining an agriculture emphasis at the Wyoming State Fair, the Joint Ag Committee heard summaries of the fair and comments from many stakeholder.

Funding deficit

The crux of much discussion during the day was based around how to achieve adequate funding for the fair.

A $400,000 budget cut during the 2017 Legislative Session was made, intensifying the impacts of funding shortages.

Sen. Larry Hicks, chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, commented, “This will be a slow process as we try to move State Fair towards being more financially stand-alone and solvent.”

He continued, “We can’t change everything at once, but we can make incremental changes.”

Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto emphasized that there are two realms to the Wyoming State Fair – the fair event itself and the other 50 weeks of the year.

“We have a campus – including dorms, a cafeteria, multipurpose buildings, the equine center, livestock show centers and more – that represents opportunities to provide education and host events over the course of the year,” Miyamoto said.

Hicks added, “If we can expand the nature to take a global view and maximize the economic potential of the campus to be self-sufficient, we will see economic benefits to Douglas, Converse County and the state. We should maximize the use of the grounds to maximize benefit for the state and the community.”

Past-Sen. Jim Anderson, formerly of Glenrock, also suggested the creation of an endowment to be established by offering a match for all donations.

“The endowment concept is currently being used by the University of Wyoming, community colleges and others,” Anderson said. “I know there are folks who would be interested, if such a fund were available.”

Continuing challenge

Anderson also reflected that, 20 years ago, during his tenure in the Wyoming Legislature, they faced the same problems of funding and how to move forward with the event.

“These discussions feel like déjà vu,” he said. “State Fair was one of our prime problems at the time, along with education.”

“I see a very close relationship between what we do in agriculture and what the State Fair does,” Anderson continued. “This is about youth, their heritage, families and the future.”

“There is no question about whether State Fair is worthwhile. This really matters, and I hope it’s an issue the Legislature continues to work on,” he emphasized.

Preservation of culture

Anderson also related that, across the country today, monuments are being torn down and statues are being defaced.

“These actions are about people who would like to destroy our history, our heritage and our dignity,” he said. “I think we, in Wyoming, cherish our youth very much at the University of Wyoming, community colleges and in education.”

He added, “I think that value applies to what we are talking about with State Fair.”

“If we were to lose any of those things in regard to our heritage, we are in danger of losing our identity,” Anderson commented. “I’m pleased with the direction the committee has taken, and compared to the conversations 20 years ago, the Legislature is miles ahead.”

“If we don’t continue to fight to keep the West as it is, we’re going to lose it,” Anderson added. “To do that, we must educate our children and let them know the value of their heritage, their roots and their background. That’s why it is important to preserve the Wyoming State Fair.”

Suggestions

Anderson cautioned against being careful to make too many cuts or raise fees too high, or the Wyoming State Fair may suffer, as well.

“I think there’s a broader approach that has been part of this discussion,” Anderson said, referencing comments made by Sen. Curt Meier and Sen. Larry Hicks during the meeting. “There are 52 weeks in the year, and I personally think that the facilities need to be used during all of them.”

He advocated for involvement of outside groups, including the Wyoming Business Council and Wyoming Tourism Board, to develop strategies for drawing more groups to the Wyoming State Fairgrounds for their event.

“I think the committee ought to engage with the idea of how we can enhance and engage ourselves with regard to diversification and developing the business,” Anderson explained. “If we continue to do the same thing the same way, we’ll get the same outcome. The Wyoming State Fair is going to have to change its ways.”

Bill draft

As one step in moving forward to improve the Wyoming State Fair, a draft bill was introduced that would transition the State Fair Advisory Board to a State Fair Board, with direction to focus on improving and developing the Wyoming State Fair as a year-round venue to be used to its maximum potential.

The bill would require members of the State Fair Board to be appointed by the Governor, rather than by the members of the Wyoming Board of Agriculture.

Additionally, the bill would put the operations, maintenance and use of buildings and attached property under the purview of the Wyoming State Building Commission.

Extensive discussion about the bill, as well as a number of clarifying questions, were posed during several hours of debate at the end of the meeting. The bill was ultimately tabled, with direction to the chairmen of the committee to make amendments that would clarify questions and concerns from the public and the committee.

The committee will vote on whether to move the bill forward via an e-mail, electronic vote. 

“I think the bill that was written is wise, and I think it’s the right direction to enhance management,” Anderson commented. “It’s a long way from the finish line, though. I hope the Legislature continues to work on the State Fair.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..