Sweetwater Events Complex attracts national events
On average, the Sweetwater Events Complex in Rock Springs hosts more than 850 events each year. Do the math, and that equals more than two events every day of the year! No wonder the destination is Wyoming’s premier entertainment and sports venue and one of the region’s major economic drivers.
The complex, which comprises a 20,000-square-foot exhibition building, a 42,480-square-foot agricultural complex and a 1,200-space RV park, hosts a wide range of events, from motocross and BMX racing to horse racing and the Sweetwater County Fair, also known as Wyoming’s Big Show, because of its ranking as the largest county fair in the state.
“We usually end up with about 60,000 people on the property over the five days of the county fair, which, for Wyoming, is huge,” says Lena Warren, marketing and events coordinator for the Sweetwater Events Complex.
Warren says with the addition of the National High School Finals Rodeo to the facility’s calendar, the Sweetwater Events Complex has gained the national attention it needs to attract even larger events.
“What we’re learning is we have those facilities to bring in large events like that,” she says. “We’ve been working to recruit RV rallies, pyrotechnic conventions and other national equine events. As we’ve continued to put improvements into the facility, we’re getting more and more response back, so it’s really been great for us.”
After winning the multi-year contract for the National High School Finals Rodeo, complex officials installed more than 1,235 full-hookup RV spaces with 50-amp electrical, water and sewage hookups. The complex also received a landscaping makeover as well as a grant from the Wyoming Business Council to install 800 additional permanent horse stalls on the property.
“[The additional stalls] will actually help when the National High School Finals Rodeo returns to Sweetwater County in 2018 and 2019, 2024 and 2025. Then that will help us branch out to other equine events, such as the Women’s Barrel Racing Association, and hopefully bring those events to our facility,” Warren says. “We’re on a rotation [to host the National High School Finals Rodeo] with two other facilities, so that will give us a little bit more time also to do some additional improvements. Every time they come back, hopefully they will see our facility is getting better and better.”
The Community’s Complex
Warren says having access to such high-profile events is a real boon for the community.
“Living in Wyoming, sometimes the winter months are hard. Families are always looking for something to do, and we’re very fortunate to have these facilities to be able to offer a diverse calendar of events — whether it’s a craft fair, a banquet or fundraiser, arena cross, motocross or team roping. We work with all our local sports clubs and organizations to make the facility available to them year-round, and we try to keep all of the events diverse so there’s something for everyone.”
The upgrades to the facility and the additions to its calendar are also good for the county’s bottom line. The National High School Finals Rodeo, for instance, draws 1,700 contestants and their families — some 10,000 attendees in total — over 10 days.
“It’s been great for our community — from our volunteers to local restaurants, hotels and gas stations,” Warren says. “That goes not only for Sweetwater County and Rock Springs, but also for the entire state of Wyoming. It’s a huge draw, and it’s a great thing for our economy.”