Green River Star -

By David Martin

Complex focuses on rodeo

Administration confident rodeo will continue rotation


Rodeo is the main event for the Sweetwater County Events Complex, but comments from Gillette about attempting to keep the National High School Finals Rodeo at the Cam-Plex have caught their attention.

After winning a bid to host the NHSFR in 2018 and 2019, the complex was also awarded the opportunity to host the Wyoming State High School Finals Rodeo in 2017 and 2018. The complex plans to bid on the NHSFR for 2020 and 2021 as well as the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo in 2022 and 2023.

“We just want to be part of that rotation,” Lena Warren, marketing and event coordinator for the events complex said.

Recent moves by the Gillette Cam-Plex to make it the first permanent home for the NHSFR haven’t gone unnoticed by the events complex staff. For Gillette, a city struggling after the collapse of its coal industry, the guaranteed return of a nationally-recognized event would help solidify some sales-tax revenue from visitors participating in the event.

However, Warren said the administration at the county events complex is hopeful the high school finals rodeo board continues to rotate the event amongst multiple locations.

One aspect that helps the events complex is the fact the event requires a massive volunteer effort to pull off. This isn’t unique to Sweetwater County, as the Cam-Plex staff also utilize hundreds of volunteers to host the rodeo. If Gillette were to become a permanent home for the event, the likelihood of volunteer burnout increases, Warren said.

“We would not be able to host such an event without community support,” she said.

While the NHSFR does travel throughout the country, rodeo organizers have favored Wyoming for the event. Warren said the low humidity is friendly to competitors’ animals and summers in the Cowboy State tend to be much milder than in other regions of the country.

Warren said the events complex likes hosting rodeo events because those events utilize multiple facilities at the complex. Especially for the NHSFR, which was the reason the county paid to install 1,200 camper spaces at the events complex.

“It’s magnitude doesn’t compare to other events,” Warren said.

The complex will continue to build additional facilities to support the rodeo and other equine events. After the Sweetwater County Fair concludes, work will begin on building 800 stalls, which the complex administration believe will support wintertime equine events such as barrel racing.

Rodeo may be the main focus, but it isn’t the only event the complex has its eyes on. As usage continues to grow, the complex now hosts approximately 800 events a year. Warren said the complex can host a wide variety of events and have gotten attention from groups such as the National Airstream Club, a group of Airstream camper enthusiasts interested in bringing a convention to Sweetwater County.

“We’re just open to anything,” Warren said. “We just want to reach out and recruit.”

While other groups may be discovering the events complex for the first time, complex administration view NHSFR as one of the main events the complex will host and hope cowboys and cowgirls from throughout the country will return to Rock Springs beyond the next two rodeos scheduled.

However, both the Cam-Plex and the events complex will have to wait to see what the future holds as a decision isn’t expected until Jan. 2017 at the NHSFR board’s winter meeting.

“I think we have a very good chance of it coming back,” Warren said.


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