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Sweetwater, WY Events Complex Hosts Big and Small Successes

Sweetwater’s Events Complex keeps humming year round

By Laura Hill on August 13, 2014

Sweetwater Events Complex
Rock Springs / Courtesy of NHSRA/Jennings Rodeo Photography

Whether you’re looking for an intimate space for a family celebration or a national event that draws thousands, the Sweetwater Events Complex has it covered.

The massive, multibuilding facility is well known as host of the annual National High School Finals Rodeo, which brings more than 10,000 people to town from around the world for a week of activities and competitions. Its recently expanded trade show space, now 80,000 square feet, accommodates vendors and shoppers of all descriptions, and its 42,000 square feet of agricultural space accommodates large events of many kinds. But in addition to welcoming big crowds, the complex meets the community’s needs for smaller spaces.

From Weddings to Rodeos

“I love the complex and have used it for all kinds of different things from work to personal stuff,†says Carole Shafer, director of workforce and community development at Western Wyoming Community College. “I have had some church events there; we’ve had political forums; we’ve done a shower there. We’ve had some nice banquets at the complex, a formal event for the governor. It’s hard to turn a cement room into a banquet hall, but they do it.”

Shafer salutes the complex’s staff for its willingness to work with the community. And the staff, in turn, enjoys the community’s appreciation.

“Everybody in Sweetwater County knows what a huge asset the complex is to the community,†says Lena Warren, marketing and event coordinator at Sweetwater County Events Complex. “We have such a need in the community, because there are so few places to host an event. We host more than 700 events in a 365-day year, and we can host everything from a 20-person birthday party to the rodeo.”

Complex Calendar Fills Quickly

A glance at the complex’s events calendar in a random summer week gives an idea of how much goes on there: a gun show, BMX races, a horseshoe tournament, a county fair board meeting, dog obedience classes, stock car racing, horse racing and a wedding. Warren says, the calendar fills up quickly.

The biggest event is without doubt the National High School Finals Rodeo, most recently held last July. Contestants, 1,500 strong, hail from the U.S., Canada and Australia, competing in 13 competitions over seven days. A total of 100,000 rodeo goers browse a giant indoor “shopping mall†trade show, where they can shop for everything from saddles and western wear to candy.

Barely a week later, the complex hosts Wyoming’s Big Show, the Sweetwater County Fair, which brings out another 75,000 people for concerts, a trade show, agricultural exhibits, a family-friendly carnival, concessions and more. The fair has been named a Wyoming top 10 event by Americathbeautiful.com and the No. 1 top summer event by Wyoming Lifestyle magazine.

“We’re always changing, trying out new things,†Warren says. “We pride ourselves on that – we want to impress people so they come back. That’s the ultimate goal.”

“We can host everything from a 20-person birthday party to the rodeo.”

Lena Warren, marketing and events coordinator
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