Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Snow more waiting

Winterfest arrives next weekend


February 7, 2019

Jeff Moberg

Nick McDonald pulls Jeff Stull toward the finish line during last year's Winterfest.

Once upon a time in Sundance, a cold winter just meant a more difficult drive to town. Since the Sundance Winter Festival first launched, though, many of us have begun to judge January weather according to how well it will help the teams cover the streets in snow for the most entertaining Saturday of the season.

Now in its fifth year, the festival returns next weekend and brings with it all the excitement and smiles the community has come to love. At 9 a.m. on February 16, the first ski joring team will race down Main Street and the competitions will begin.

"It has brought on its own little culture and a pretty positive vibe among the community and in what I would call the Black Hills surrounding area," says organizer Reggie Gaylord.

Gaylord is expecting record crowds this year and says he has heard interest from Rapid City, Spearfish and Gillette. The event was inspired by competitions in surrounding states and now similar events have begun to pop up in other parts of Wyoming.

"It's fun to see we've created an event that brought a lot of people in to see how we're doing it and to put it on themselves," he says.

"We're still a free, family-friendly event and that's one thing we want to stick to."

Registration will open at 7 a.m. for the festival events and closes at 8:45 a.m. for the first division as competitors line the course to sing the national anthem.

Ski joring will take place throughout the day as skiers are pulled along the obstacle course by a galloping horse and its rider. The first event will be the long round for the Outlaw boarders.

Registration for each division will close just before its long round begins. Short rounds for every division will have a Calcutta.

This year will see a new division added to the mix for men aged 50 and above.

"It's so we can spread them out a little and make the categories more equal," Gaylord explains. "I think it will open up some opportunities for people who may not have competed because it was 35 and up before. I'm hoping that it gives an opening for people who may have wanted to try it but didn't because of the age difference."

The divisions this year will now include "Outlaw" for snowboarders, "Collector Guns" for men aged 50 and above, "Girly Guns" for the ladies, "Classic Guns" for men aged 35 to 49, "Young Guns" for men aged 18 to 34 and "Open" for any and all participants.

Participants can also sign up early for the ski-joring at the Longhorn Saloon and Grill on Friday night from 5 to 7 p.m.

Gaylord stresses that the ski joring will begin at 9 a.m. on the dot to be sure that the divisions are all complete in time for the bar stool racing to take place before dark.

"There's enough categories and races that have happened in the past that, based on the previous years, we have to start at 9 a.m. to get through," he says. "We have to keep everything moving."

For the top tiers of sponsor – sponsor zone and platinum – a special bracelet will be issued providing access to a VIP zone during the event.

"Both of those will get entry into the sponsor zone tent, which will have food and its own bar cash inside of a warm tent towards the end of the finish line. That's new for the bigger sponsors who want to be part of our event," he says.

For those interested in becoming a sponsor, Gaylord says, "You can get a letter on our website that you can fill out and mail back to our address or stop in here at the hardware store and I can get you all hooked up."

Two intermission events have been scheduled during the day for the Wild Tube Race, in which pairs of brave bystanders may sign up to be dragged down the course in an inner tube while attempting to spill as little liquid from their glass as possible.

As the ski joring comes to a close, head over to the corner of the street at the end of the course. The bar stool races will take place immediately afterwards on the site of the old North Pole Meat Locker, opposite the post office.

"It's going to be on the open lot and the hill is being made as we speak," Gaylord says.

Awards will be announced in the Longhorn Saloon and Grill right after the barstool races.

Throughout the day, revelers will have the chance to peruse a fine art event that will take place in the Sundance State Bank community room. Meanwhile, vendors will fill the air with the scent of foods that are expected to include pizza, smokehouse brats and burgers, popcorn and more.

Some vendors scheduled to be on site have returned every year since the event was launched, Gaylord says. New vendors are also welcome to sign up.

"It for sure is evolving and bringing the good commerce we look forward to from the whole area," he says.

"If anyone is interested, they can surely contact me here. I have the vendor form and we can make sure that it fits in with what we're doing," he adds, explaining that the organizers aim to minimize overlap between types of vendor within reason.

Gaylord is looking forward to another successful day of winter fun and has his fingers crossed that the forecast will stay on its current track.

"It is still Wyoming and we don't know what the weather will be, but from what I see on the forecast it looks like it's going to be in the 40s," he says.

"If it really falls into that we're going to have a marvelous day and a free, family event seems like a good way to spend a Saturday."

To volunteer to help with the event or if you have questions, call Gaylord at 283-2438. The schedule of events is kept up to date at

Winterfest Art Show

This year will see the inaugural Winterfest Art Show join the festivities at 121 E. Main, the community room next to the Sundance Post Office. The show will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The featured artists this year are slated to include:

Jim and Michele Pridgeon – western and wildlife sculpture

Jerri Maulik jewelry – gourd carving and beadwork art

Mary Beets – western and wildlife gourd carving

Lisa McGuinness – original watercolor, pen-and-ink and acrylic paintings, drawings and prints  

Bruce Speidel – wildlife painting, original and prints

Terry Speidel – custom handmade knives


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