We are up to our eyeballs in Cheyenne Frontier Days.
CFD is a 10-day extravaganza of parades, rodeo and nighttime concerts by big-names such as Lady Antebellum, John Mellencamp and up-and-comers Florida-Georgia Line. I read yesterday that attendance for concerts now surpasses that of the rodeo, and that the CFD folks are expanding the size of the stage and updating the electronics. In the 1970s, Johnny Cash pulled up to CFD with a pickup towing a trailer filled with mikes, amps and speakers. These days, Brad Paisley hauls his gear and people around in a caravan of buses and semis. That’s what these big arenas shows require.
Chris and I don’t plan of going to any concerts. As is the case with most Cheyennites, we do our share of volunteering during the week. Tonight we’re at the Cheyenne Old-Fashioned Melodrama, now in its 58th year at downtown’s Historic Atlas Theatre. I manage the house while Chris manages the box office. All the barkeeps and waitrons are volunteers, although they do get a few tips in the course of the night. All the players are volunteers, too, as is the backstage crew. It takes a lot of people to put on a show. But it’s fun, and it’s a tradition that brings in the crowds to see a totally locally written and produced event. The melodrama also is a major fund-raiser for the Cheyenne Little Theatre Players, our community theatre which puts on a dozen productions annually. Come on out and see the melodrama tonight, “The Merchant of Vengeance.” Another classic tale written by Rory Mack and Brooks Reeves.
Amidst all the revelry, political campaigns are raging. Primaries are Aug. 19, just a month away. Chris and I walking neighborhoods for Senate District 9 candidate Dameione Cameron. Dameione is uncontested in the primary but has a Republican challenger in the general election. The incumbent has dropped out, leaving the field wide open. We’ve had some interesting conversations, including one with a Dem who was pissed off that Pres. Obama is not taking a stronger stance with Vladimir Putin. It’s rare that anyone won’t talk at all, although we have been excused quickly by some when they learn that DC is a Democrat. DC is a local attorney and businessman --- he and his partner Troy Rumpf run the Morris House Bistro – and his support comes from an alliance of Dems, Repubs and Indies. His district is mostly urban, or as urban as we get around here, so his support is younger, more non-partisan and more ethnically diverse than one usually sees in Wyoming. His campaign manager is Jordan, a young African-American from DC’s home state of South Carolina.
Will this be a good year for Dem candidates? Could be, as we have a record number of Dems running for the legislature and two solid challengers in the statewide offices of Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction. The past few years have not been good for education in Wyoming. The legislature and Gov. Mead vs. Cindy Hill. Hill is not running again for superintendent. Instead, she has chosen to go after Mead in the Gov’s race. She sat out the recent debate, which is smart, considering she tends to say dumb things in public. The third Repub candidate, Tea Party fave Taylor Haynes, also says dumb things in public. In the debate, he said we should open Yellowstone National Park to oil and gas drilling. He later walked back those comments, but those of us paying attention know he gears most of his public utterances for the “Don’t Tread on Me” crowd. Wyoming’s economy would almost disappear if the three million summer tourists took their money to Rocky Mountain National Park or Yosemite. Casper and Cody and Lander and Evanston all bill themselves as stops along the way to Yellowstone. So does Cheyenne.
So, when Dems go to the polls on Aug. 19, we won’t find much in the way of contested races. We can check a number of D boxes and then walk away, knowing we’ve done our duty. Four years ago, Dems talked about switching party affiliation on election day and voting for a moderate such as Mead instead of wind-eyed ultra-rightists such as Ron Micheli. It was a close contest. Political pundits said that Mead owed his office to Ds in the state, as he went on to handily beat the Democratic challenger. We didn’t get much for our efforts. So no switching this time. And we really mean it.