From start to finish, 2017 was a wonderful year in Sheridan. A snowy January enticed outdoor adventurers from across the country to visit the Bighorn Mountains for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. The Sheridan Amateur Hockey Association successfully bid to host a state hockey tournament at Whitney Rink at the M&M’s Center, and from Feb. 24-26, hundreds of youth puck heads and their families came to Sheridan to experience the best of winter in Wyoming.
Max Brown, our film and digital production coordinator, worked with Black Tooth Brewing Company, the Fly Shop of the Big Horns, Sheridan Bicycle Co. and the Antelope Butte Foundation on a short promotional video that highlights the best of winter recreation on the mountain.
March saw visitors flock to Eatons’ Ranch for a winter B&B experience, while Ted and Arin Waddell wowed audiences at the Whitney Center for the Arts with their “Waddell + Waddell” exhibition. In April, our tourism team traveled to Los Angeles to meet with film producers and production companies and laid the seeds for potential projects that include “The Photographer,” based on the life of William Henry Jackson, and a feature based on Prince’s 1986 visit (and the local premiere of “Under the Cherry Moon”).
Wyoming State Parks and the Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site presented the 150th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of the Hundred-in-the-Hands, also known as the Fetterman Fight, on a brisk, snowy April day. May brought warmer weather, new exhibitions at The Brinton Museum, the annual Eatons’ Horse Drive, the Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show and the Hang Gliders Fly-In.
By June, the summer was in full swing. The Dead Swede Hundo mountain bike race was a smashing success. Our team hosted a contingent of media some 40 strong from the Society of American Travel Writers, Third Thursday and the Sheridan Farmers Markets proved to be more popular than ever, and the Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run continued to draw competitors from far and wide to test their mettle in 18-mile, 50K, 50-mile and 100-mile races. The Bighorn Mountain Brewfest kicked off July, while the Karz Rod Run, Fourth of July fireworks and polo at the Big Horn Equestrian Center led us into WYO Rodeo Week.
Somehow, the community still had the energy for the Antelope Butte Summer Festival, Dayton Days and the 17th annual Monster Truck Show. The busiest August in Sheridan’s history was a showcase for the Bighorn Rendezvous at The Brinton Museum, the Sheridan County Fair, the Elks Youth Rodeo, the Wagon Box Fight and the Suds N’ Spurs Brewfest, now regarded as one of the finest festivals of its kind in Wyoming. And despite the fact that we saw “only” 96 percent totality, the Aug. 21 solar eclipse helped our community have one of our busiest months on record.
Things didn’t slow down in September. Don King Days was a success, in spite of the wildfire smoke that settled over the region. The Wyoming Theater Festival settled into its new fall time slot.
The new hot air balloon rally thrilled families from across Wyoming. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars returned for a special media event, which has already resulted in feature stories in Nobleman Magazine, Forbes, Moon Guides and more.
Excellent October weather brought with it plenty of visitors, and there was much to do — from the annual Biketoberfest to Second Sundays Film at the WCA, incredible fall colors on the mountain and so much more.
In November we celebrated the second anniversary of our air service with Denver Air Connection, rang in the holiday season with the Christmas Stroll, then bundled up for December’s open house at the Trail End State Historic Site. Our team announced awards bestowed upon Sheridan by the likes of True West Magazine, Sunset Magazine, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, USA Today and other publications and organizations.
It was a wild, wonderful year in Sheridan. Our community is becoming a true four-season getaway destination, which not only brings visitors to us from all corners of the nation, but also positively impacts our quality of life here at home. When we’re living well, there are always going to be folks that want to drop in and see what all the fuss is about.
Happy New Year, and here’s to 2018!
Shawn Parker is the executive director of Sheridan Travel and Tourism.