One of the best ways to experience the community spirit of any town is to check out the local fair. Folks and families coming together for exhibitions and competitions of all sorts. And let's not forget those thrill-seekers who will ride any carnival ride that spins around, shoots up in the air or plunges toward the earth!
In 1904 the town of Casper, then just 15 years old, held its first fair on record. The state-wide celebration, known as the Industrial Convention was organized, and all surrounding counties were invited to contribute to the exhibitions.
Without a permanent fairgrounds, Casper's earliest fairs and rodeos were held in many different places. It's believed that there were rodeo events hosted in the Garden Creek and Mountain View areas, and in 1914 the first annual County Fair was held ... well, somewhere! Sept. 23-25. Even the 3rd floor of the Natrona County High School was used to showcase fair exhibits. The first rodeo was produced by Leo Cramer of Big Timber, MT, and he later formed a partnership with Harry Knight, producing the rodeo in Casper for several years. After a time, Harry Knight was partnered with the legendary Gene Autry, and finally, took over producing rodeo without a partner.
In 1947, the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo finally found a home! Along with the excitement of the rodeo, the fair's early years offered up shows with acts like Stan Volera on the Sway Pole, The Pribels, Outstanding Circus Clowns (1953) and "Henry's Liberty Ponies" (1957). Entertainment ranged from cowboy crooners "The Sons of the Pioneers" (1953) to country boy Eddie Arnold (1966) to "The Rajun Cajun" Doug Kershaw in 1975. And every carnival pulled folks in with food, games and thrilling rides with names like Mad Mouse, Super Twister and Zipper!
Over 60 years later, that community spirit continues. The PRCA showcases many of the rodeo greats from the College National Finals Rodeo. The exhibits from the 4-H and FFA folks keep the tradition of excellence in showmanship alive. And Crabtree Amusements Carnival delivers rides from the tame to the blood-tingling! No matter what the next sixty years brings, the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo will still be bringing families together.
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