Printer Friendly

Win, place, or show.

Originally a railroad town, Evanston was assured permanence in 1871 when Union Pacific constructed machine shops and a roundhouse. Today the trains continue to roll past Evanston, but it is a different type of track that draws many Utahns to this southeastern Wyoming border town. Though many visitors pass through Evanston on their way to several recreation areas, including Jackson Hole, Bear Lake, and Flaming Gorge, Evanston is better known in Utah for access to horse racing, liquor, fireworks, and community attractions. Evanston business owners readily admit they are more than willing to cater, to, and even depend on, those who find Utah's recreation or drinking laws a little too stifling.

Wyoming Downs is Evanston's best known and biggest tourist attraction. Since 1985, the race track has been a major economic factor in Evanston. "We have the single largest economic impact on the economy of Evanston," said Jay Joyce, owner of Wyoming Downs since 1990. Joyce says the track is marginally profitable - breaking even last year - but it does not attract too many big spenders. "Our average wager is only $48 per person, per day," he said, "compared with $300 at Santa Anita." The track does not attract too many major gamblers because only a dozen bets are offered each racing day, compared to 1,200 at larger tracks. "We're no big threat to the big tracks," he said. Though the big bettors don't flock to Evanston, Joyce depends on the Utah crowds to come, admitting that a change in Utah's betting laws could close the track. "About 85 percent of our business comes from Utah," he said. To insure that Utah customers keep coming, Joyce focuses nearly all of his advertising efforts on Utahns. But much of the Utah money that goest to Wyoming Downs finds its way back. "Since many of our customers are Utah residents, and since many of our trainers, owners, and jockeys are from Utah, a lot of money from this track goes back into Utah," Joyce said.

With a desire to take even more of that money back to Utah, weekend partiers, gamblers and race fans board a "fun bus" in Salt Lake for the 80-mile drive to Evanston. Donna's Tours, based in West Jordan, offers a fun bus every Saturday and Sunday of Wyoming Downs' Memorial Day to Labor Day season.

Family Entertainment

One distinct advantage of the race track, over other gaming events, is that entire families can participate in horse racing. "We are family-oriented entertainment," said Joyce. "Most of our customers come as families."

Families are the primary tourist group sought by Evanston. The majority of the city's attractions are geared to family involvement.

Since 1936, Cowboy Days has been the major attraction sponsored by Evanston itself. The three-day event has evolved from a hard-drinking, rodeo weekend, to a carnival of activities for families. "It was the biggest drunken brawl in history until the open-container liquor law was changed," said Marian McLean, entertainment chairman of the event. "The drunks were piled up on the streets like snowdrifts. That was 15 years ago. The only draw then was the rodeo. Cowboy Days has since been rebuilt to be a family event." In addition to three nights of rodeos, the festival has added a concert, a dance, and children's games. One of the more popular events is the fish-catch contest. "We put 1,500 rainbow trout in a big rubber raft that has about a foot of water in it," said McLean. "Then the kids get in and try to catch them by hand." Prizes are awarded according to the numbers and sizes of the fish. When the kids are done,the men go in after the rest. "The men think it's the greatest thing in the world." Last year they ran out of fish before running out of kids, so there will be more fish this year.

Utah's influence is evident in Cowboy Days. The livestock used in the rodeo comes from Chester. The band for the dance comes from Logan. Even the skydivers featured in some years come from Brigham City. Because of the participation of Utahns, there are many followers. But there are also many fans who are unrelated to any participant, who come to enjoy the events. During the Cowboy Days celebration, organizers estimate 10,000 to 12,000 spectators spend time in Evanston.

Roughing It

The Bear River Mountain Men rendezvous is held in Bear River State Park, just outside Evanston. The rendezvous campground is adjacent to the Bear River, but according to Keith Kump, strategically placed: "It's only five minutes from McDonalds."

The frying pan throw is one of the popular events at the rendezvous, held each August. "If you flinch or get hit, you're out," said Kump. "I turn around so I don't flinch." Actually the frying pan is not thrown at him, it's thrown as close to him as possible.

Kump was last year's boosway. A boosway is the head honcho, or mayor, of a primitive community set up for the rendezvous. There is no right or entirely wrong way to spell boosway - "Anything close is fine," said Kump.

Each camp is a family or a group of friends camping with primitive equipment. Nothing newer than 1840-era gear is allowed in the primitive area camp. Outsiders are welcome: There is a separate camp called the "Alcoa" or "tin" camp for those who bring modern conveniences.

Even the rendezvous is not immune from Utah's influence. Though the rendezvous attracts participants from all over the country, one-third of the mountain men come from Utah. The mountain man club based in Ogden organizes the Mountain Man Run.

Classic Cars

Evanston's Small Town Toy's Car Club sponsors a car show each summer. The Small Town Toy's Car Show has been held only three years, but last year attracted more than 125 cars. An estimated 80 percent of the cars come from Utah. Antique, classic and custom cars and trucks are displayed. The show includes a poker run, prizes, a raffle, and a 50-60s dance. Cars are judged and prizes are awarded. In addition to the technical and class judging, there are several awards including mayor's choice, people's choice and ladies choice.

Several participants and car enthusiasts make a weekend of the one-day event by bringing friends, staying in a motel, and going to the race track on Sunday.

Liquor Exports

Wyoming's less-strick liquor laws also attract Utahns. "A lot goe back to Utah," said Brent Grover, wine manager of Spirits of Yellow Creek, a liquor store in Evanston. Grover said the more expensive liquors are typically cheaper in Wyoming. "I've had customers tell me that by coming here they can save $10 per bottle of Grand Marnier liqueur," said Grover, an Ogden native. His store has more than 400 different wines.

Though offering the entire line of liquors, Yellow Creek specializes in the higher-class liquors and wines. Grover said the Utah stores don't mark up the lower-priced beverages as much, "to keep people from coming up here. But on the nicer stuff they mark it higher, so we sell more."

Border Exchange

Though Utahns spend money in Evanston, the cash flow between the two states is not one-way. Utahns spend their money on recreation, but Wyoming residents count on Utah merchants for major expenses. Automobiles, appliances, furniture, and building materlias are frequently purchased in Utah. "Utahns may spend thousands here, but we spend millions there," said Darrell Porter of Porter's Fireworks. And while Salt Lake businesses appreciate out-of-town customers, many Evanston businesses depend on Utah money fro survival.

Salt Lake City's size and proximity help attract shoppers from Wyoming, but the differences between the laws of the two states prompts Utahns to cross state lines. Mary Schwitzer, owner of Schwitzer's Fireworks summed it up best: "The liquor and the betting, that's why they come. If they relax the liquor laws in Utah, they could take out the casket and bury Evanston."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Olympus Publishing Co.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Evanston, Wyoming draws large number of customers, trainers, owners and jockeys to Wyoming Downs horse race track from Utah, generating revenue which eventually makes its way back into Utah
Publication:Utah Business
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Words:1322
Previous Article:Hub of the Grand Circle.
Next Article:Run for the border: what's illegal in Utah is good for Utah business owners.
Topics:


Related Articles
IMPLAUSIBLE PLOT - AND CAST SUPPORTERS HOLD OUT HOPE FOR HAL'S HOPE.
A HOME RUN KENTUCKY-BRED MONARCHOS WINS WITH FURIOUS FINISH.
KENTUCKY DERBY NOTEBOOK: A HUMBLE LUKAS ELECTED TO HALL.
BAFFERT CENTER OF SPAT WITH PARK OFFICIAL.
SOLIS IN RACING SLUMP; JOCKEY SAYS SLIDE HAS BEEN A WAKE-UP CALL.
CAVONNIER MIGHT RECEIVE EXPERIMENTAL DRUG.
GRINDSTONE NOSE THE WAY : LEAST LIKELY LUKAS ENTRY WINS DERBY IN PHOTO FINISH.
NOTES : CALIFORNIA HORSES SHINE IN DERBY.
TAKE YOUR PICK: `WEAK' FIELD FOR DERBY MEANS THERE'S NO FAVORITE.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters