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Sheridan WYO Winter Rodeo adapts to the lack of snow in 2022

Sheridan WY Winter Rodeo
Sheridan County Travel & Tourism

A lack of wintery weather has caused organizers with the Sheridan WYO Winter Rodeo to adapt, canceling skijoring and snow bike races that were initially planned for Feb. 19 and 20. But even though Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated this year, the other events hosted this year have drawn good crowds.

“We decided last Sunday that we’d have to cancel, and we wanted to do it a few weeks ahead of time,” said Shawn Parker, Executive Director of Sheridan County Travel and Tourism. “It was not looking good for quite a while. It’s been an incredibly mild winter, and to be quite honest with you, it’s not the snow that falls today or tomorrow that really affects this event. It’s the snow that falls for us months in advance.”

This is the first year in the Winter Rodeo’s short history that some of the festivities have had to be canceled due to lack of snow. Parker said the city’s reserves contained very little to use.

“We store [the snow] in some catchment areas around the city and, if you look at those catchments like we do, it wasn’t looking good at all,” Parker said. “We didn’t get near enough snow to stick around that we used to truck in for the course. It was kind of inevitable, we just held off hoping that maybe we’d get some monster storms that never materialized.”

Parker said that making snow artificially was not considered as a viable alternative due to the environmental impact, since it requires significant amounts of fresh water and energy.

“That just doesn’t make a lot of sense when this region is in a huge drought. We’re not going to waste fresh drinking water or stream water,” Parker said.

He also pointed out that even if snow was manufactured, it’s still dependent on cold temperatures so it won’t melt.

The Winter Rodeo has been well attended since the inaugural event in 2019. Having been held each year, except 2021, it’s proved to be a popular event. And Parker said even this year’s events have had good turnouts despite some of the outdoor cancellations.

“We actually kicked things off with a jersey night on Jan. 29 with the Sheridan Hawks, our junior team here, [and] had a really successful event,” Parker said. “Then this past weekend we had an amazing weekend up on the mountain. Antelope Butte did a 50 percent off rentals and passes day. It was the busiest I’ve ever seen it, [with] lots of people out there for the first time. And later on, that afternoon, a lot of people came out to snowshoe, fat bike, and Nordic ski to Sibley Lake and hang out at the warming hut. All in all, this past week was fabulous.”

There are two events that are still scheduled for later this month for those who would still like to participate in the festivities.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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