I hope that I’m not giving away a trade secret when I say that fall is my favorite time of the year. Sure, summer comes in hot and heavy with epic tentpole events, perfect mountain weather and 101 things to do in the West, but I cherish fall because it brims with potential.
Fall presents an opportunity for Sheridan as a community to create new events and attractions, grow programming currently in place and continue to share with the world what makes this place so special.
Consider this weekend — Black Tooth Brewing Co. hosts its fourth annual Oktoberfest, an event that continues to grow, attracting lederhosen-loving revelers from across the nation. Bookending Oktoberfest is the first Sheridan WYO Film Festival, from the mind of creative director Justin Stroup. This festival received more than 600 film submissions from filmmakers in more than 50 countries — both staggering numbers for a first-year event.
We’ve had the honor of working with both events in an effort to increase awareness and attract folks to Sheridan; in addition to traditional advertising like print and radio ads, Sheridan Travel & Tourism’s Max Brown directed incredible commercials and short films for Black Tooth, while our entire team worked on a new podcast titled WYLD WEST that featured the film festival in its launch episode (find episode one on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play Music).
On the heels of these two events we will host a film crew from The New Fly Fisher; this crew will spend more than a week in town working with the Fly Shop of the Bighorns on an episode for distribution on CBC in Canada and PBS in the United States.
We’re able to do this work, and all the other work we do for the community, by leveraging Sheridan’s citywide lodging tax. We provide more than $100,000 a year in grants to local organizations and spend nearly five times that amount on advertising, marketing and promotional campaigns that help impact the local tourism economy, an industry that generates more than $100 million a year in direct spending. On Nov. 6 of this year, Sheridan County residents will vote on whether to implement the lodging tax across the county — the city of Sheridan and the towns of Dayton, Ranchester and Clearmont have already voiced support for this initiative ahead of the general election.
The current 4 percent citywide lodging tax applies only to lodging establishments in the city of Sheridan; this tax rate would not change. If implemented, Sheridan County lodging establishments would have the same 4 percent lodging tax rate as city of Sheridan establishments which would be used to market, promote and advertise Sheridan and its attractions and events to potential visitors from domestic and international markets.
Locals do not pay the lodging tax. The lodging tax is paid only by visitors staying overnight in hotels, motels, RV parks, campgrounds, guest ranches and B&Bs. The lodging tax has always been and will remain a tax that locals do not pay.
The lodging-tax vote does not jeopardize other initiatives like the Optional One-Cent Sales Tax vote. Historically, both initiatives receive overwhelmingly positive community support. The citywide lodging tax passed with nearly 76 percent of the vote in the 2016 general election.
Only four other counties in Wyoming do not have a countywide lodging tax. Park, Campbell, Teton, Natrona and other major tourism destinations across Wyoming have implemented countywide lodging tax that allows them to market their destinations. A breakdown of how additional lodging tax funds would be used to positively impact Sheridan County is available at www.sheridanwyoming.org/proposed-sheridan-county-lodging-tax/.
Shawn Parker is the executive director of Sheridan Travel and Tourism.