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The Sheridan WYO Winter Rodeo is relocating to a new home

Catherine Wheeler
Wyoming Public Media

The Sheridan WYO Winter Rodeo will have a new host venue for 2023. It’s being relocated to the Sheridan County Fairgrounds from its former location on Broadway Street. This comes after several events had to be canceled this yeardue to a lack of snow, though others were able to go on as scheduled.

“First and foremost is the weather considerations [as reason for the move],” said Shawn Parker, Executive Director of Sheridan County Travel and Tourism. “We've had two years where we did the event and then another where we had to cancel because of the weather. Even in the two years that we did get to run, it had gone from pretty great conditions to pretty slushy and warm, so there’s no accounting for the weather.”

The move to the fairgrounds, which has been the long-time host venue of the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, offers some strategic advantages to the event.

“With moving it up to the fairgrounds, we can actually build the course much earlier than we can obviously with the one on the city streets, we only have a couple days to do that,” Parker said. “So, if we build the course weeks or a month in advance and let that snow settle and harden, hopefully do a few passes over it the day or two before the event, we can really make the track more reliable than it has been.”

The safety of the competitors is another major point of emphasis for the rodeo’s organizer.

The winter rodeo held its inaugural event in 2019 and has been held each year (2021 was the one exception due to the pandemic). 2022’s events were curtailed due to warmer temperatures and a lack of available snow.

Parker and Hans Mercer, another rodeo organizer, made the final decision, which was also done in consultation with the rodeo’s board, as well as the city and county.

“The problem is just really in the course itself not holding up when the weather's rough,” Parker said. “When the weather's bad, when it gets warm and the snow starts to melt, you've got horses punching through and running on concrete, and that's not great, that's not safe. That's why we had to call it early the last year we ran it. However, if the horses punch through the track at the fairgrounds, they're just running on dirt, so it's much, much safer if the weather conditions warm all the way up to say 60, 65 degrees like it has a couple of times.”

Despite the rodeo’s relocation, the goals of the event continue. Those include boosting spending at local businesses during a traditionally slower time of year and participating in other rodeo-related events in town.

“The big goal of this thing is to spur spending for local businesses at a pretty depressed time of the year,” Parker said. “And, you know, the events serve that purpose, of course, with the thousands of people that have come out, so we're just hopeful that people will still want to come out, participate in the event itself [and] also participate in all the other things that go on with it.”

The logistics of providing the snow didn’t prove to be a major issue when the event was held on Broadway Street, though its new home will prove to be even more advantageous in planning it out that will provide a smoother planning and execution process overall, Parker said.

The winter rodeo will take place on Saturday, Feb. 18.

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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