After researching and writing about a few other festivals around Wyoming with skijoring as its pinnacle event, I readied myself for some drastically negative feedback about Sheridan’s first-ever WYO Winter Rodeo. What we ended with, at least from my perspective, were responses saturated in happiness and grace.
From the looks and sounds of it, comments regarding the rodeo came back pretty positive for what the weekend faced: A main road was closed from Thursday morning to late Saturday night; start times did not exactly sync with the schedule Friday morning; and masses of spectators toted open containers all along Broadway Street without any open container permits for the event.
Pinedale’s organizer reiterated several times in an interview that any skijoring event must be organized and run smoothly for community buy-in. Heat sheets printed, time clocks and backup time clocks working efficiently, immediate updates of times and placings throughout the day, ample bathroom facilities, plenty of trash cans and enough vendors to feed the masses.
The event started late but allowed for competitors to walk the course before traversing the snow at mach speeds. Backup time clocks worked and the announcer kept the crowds apprised of upcoming events, cranking dance tunes in between. The breweries were filled before the next set of action hit the track.
The food vendors flanking each end fed the masses swiftly, and the coffee kiosk sped through long lines throughout the day, working straight through into the afternoon hours. Even local food establishments close by had solid wait times, accommodating the crowds as quickly as possible. Solid food options, check. More food options, write it on the list for next year.
The day began with jam-packed sidewalks from Black Tooth Brewing Company to Luminous Brewhouse. As afternoon arrived, crowds thinned a bit, but there was still a definite presence of happy onlookers.
Cowboy polo — an event featured during Sheridan WYO Rodeo week at the tail-end of a long week of events — was a new sight to some and a fun viewing experience for others familiar with the sport, as it was most likely the first time played atop snow.
In speaking with a few spectators and competitors, most were OK with the late start.
“It’s the first year; they’ll work out the kinks next year,” I overheard several times. “They didn’t account for this or that, but that will improve next year.”
Even us Press folks have a list of ways to make our exclusive VIP Press Pass tent — which was located right next to the announcer’s truck at the finish line this year — better catered to our awesome members.
The biggest thing, though? Everyone was already mentioning next year’s event without thought that it wouldn’t happen again.
A street closure — and especially one as busy as Broadway — is always hard. City street crews deserve extra kudos for tackling the prep and clean up for the untested event during an already hectic time of year.
Overall, the excitement was felt as I walked through the streets and chatted with competitors and spectators. A multitude of “Look at this!” videos filled my social media feeds, and even my Colorado-based parents — who received a video from me — were amazed at the skijoring talent on the track.
Sure, the community as a whole has a list of things to improve for their part of the party next year, but the buy-in is there, and we’ll be ready for the 2020 Sheridan WYO Winter Rodeo.