Setting Up for the State Fair

Benjamin Martinez (left), Mike Safarian, Julian Leno and David Paige of Carnival Midway Attractions assemble the track of the “Orient Express” ride at the fairgrounds on Tuesday morning.

The RV section is full of campers, trailers and motor homes. The horse stalls and buildings are filled up. Animal shows are underway, and the air is thick with another scent not seen in recent years – the overpowering odor of excitement.

Despite dire predictions earlier this year about either no fair at all or a limited one, Tuesday marked the first official day of what could prove to be a milestone. A large number of new vendors have joined the fair’s mainstays up and down the midway, and the tone of the vendors – unlike so many years previously – was hyped with optimism and excitement. Granted, the Wyoming State Fair is only one of handful of fairs around the country not cancelled or curtailed because of COVID-19 – so many of the new vendors are simply happy to have a place to show off their food or wares.

“We are so excited for this year’s fair,” WSF Director Courtny Conkle said over and over again as she prepared for the opening day.

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country, most fairs, concerts and events were cancelled by late spring or early summer, and Conkle was concerned about the state of the fair when Cheyenne Frontier Days announced their cancellation in early June.

“We had time to implement a health and safety plan to ensure that we would be meeting all of the health requirements that the county and state health departments had in place,” Conkle said. “We’ve worked hard to prepare for the fair and to make sure that everyone is safe.”

One big change to the fair this year is the change in carnivals from Crabtree to Carnival Midway Attractions. Conkle had quickly found a replacement carnival after Crabtree had dropped the contract one day before it was locked in.

“Crabtree cancelled on a Thursday evening,” Conkle said. “By Friday afternoon, I had five different carnival companies eager to do the state fair.”

The carnival has also been moved to the grassy area below the museum from the area behind the grandstands.

New vendors and food stalls will be at the fair with all kinds of items for sale.

Fair events include the Pig ‘N Mud Wrestling Tuesday evening, Octane Addictions Motorcross Show Wednesday evening, PRCA rodeo Thursday and Friday and the ever-popular Demolition Derby closing the fair Saturday night.

“We are hoping, and are optimistic, for a good turnout this year,” Conkle said. “We have free music and shows on the Pepsi Stage and the new Platte River Saloon.”

Vendors and the carnival will be open at 11 a.m. each day.

For a complete schedule and information on a variety of events, shows and rules, see the official Wyoming State Fair Guide, which is available at no charge at entrance gate ticket booths and at locations within the fairgrounds. The guide was published by the Douglas Budget, Glenrock Independent and Wyoming Livestock Roundup in conjunction with the Wyoming State Fair.

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