“We got snow!”

— Everyone involved in the second Sheridan WYO Winter Rodeo

Sheridan went from spring back to winter this week, and that seems to have electrified the local community and folks considering coming out to Sheridan WYO Winter Rodeo, Feb. 15-23. My phone has been ringing off the hook with questions about registration, last-minute sponsorship opportunities, volunteer questions and a hundred other things. To think that this is happening in February, what we once considered Sheridan’s “off season,” is staggering. But that’s what happens when the community rallies around something that it is passionate about. How passionate, exactly? Here are some of the numbers* we’ve collected regarding 2019’s inaugural event:

• 6,282 people entered the “Skijoring Course” area on Broadway Avenue on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019.

• Compare this to 2018, when there were 6,341 people on Broadway — in the entire month of February.

• 11+% of the 6,282 came from outside of Wyoming (691).

• 138 visitors from the Billings, Montana, area; 69 from Sand Point, Idaho; 63 from Spearfish, South Dakota; 35 from Fort Collins, Colorado; and more.

The in-state visitor profile includes:

• 350+ visitors from Buffalo; 160+ from Laramie; 200+ from Gillette; and more.

When considering average spending impacts of roughly $85 per person, the estimated economic impact of the first Sheridan WYO Winter Rodeo is $533,970.

Note that this is a very conservative number — the Wyoming Office of Tourism estimates that visitors spend on average $144 per day, per person, which would translate to $904,608.

• The 107 skijoring teams that entered the first WYO Winter Rodeo made ours the largest-ever event on the Skijoring America circuit.

• 20% increase in hotel occupancy for February 2019 versus 2018.

• Numerous local businesses reported that skijoring Saturday represented their highest grossing sales day of all time. Numerous other businesses indicated strong year-over-year sales.

In summary, the first WYO Winter Rodeo represented one of the largest single-day events in Sheridan County’s history, and 2020 is poised to be bigger and better in every possible way. We have two days of thrilling skijoring action (Feb. 22-23), a new fat bike and Nordic ski race (Feb. 15) and a host of other family-friendly activities for the entire community to enjoy. I’m proud to be but a small part of this incredible community event, and I want to thank every person in Sheridan County for their incredible support.

Check out the entire schedule at wyowinterrodeo.org and Let’s Get Winter WYO’d!

Shawn Parker is executive director of Sheridan Travel and Tourism.

*Data has been collected from SEE SOURCE, a company that compiles opt-in user data from cell phone usage, apps, and more; and STR Report, a company that compiles data on the lodging industry.