UW game day ‘back to normal’ – so much fun for the Cowboy State

And by the way, the Pokes won last Saturday! But there was so much more going on besides a football game.

A real old-fashioned football weekend in Laramie had not occurred for two years. Last weekend was just so much fun – the tailgating, the banquets, the pomp, the huge crowds and it even culminated with a nailbiter of a football game victory.

I was there for most of it. This story is about some of the activities that were occurring all over Laramie and Cheyenne during this festive weekend.

Fall weather in the mid-70s and just a slight breeze contributed to about as good an environment as in all of UW history.

We talked with tailgaters from Cheyenne, Yoder, Lander, Newcastle, Wheatland and Laramie. As you walked around the huge War Memorial Stadium, the smells of burgers, pizza, barbecue, burritos and just about every other tasty item were in the air. My favorite was a breakfast burrito from the folks in Wheatland.

The bright gold color favored by Coach Craig Bohl was all over the place as folks dressed up in their golden best. At the game, the fans sat in an organized manner so the crowd was striped, with sections alternately gold and brown.

Our weekend started Friday night with a gala event at the Governor’s Residence in Cheyenne where first lady Jennie Gordon saluted individuals and organizations that had taken her Wyoming Hunger Initiative and made it a huge success.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield has become a major sponsor on that project. When BC/BS also became the primary sponsor of the UW’s game Saturday, it only made sense to incorporate the “Tackle Hunger” campaign into their game sponsorship, too.

A big crew of volunteers wearing “Tackle Hunger” t-shirts worked hard raising awareness of hunger issues in Wyoming, especially among young people.

The Cheyenne event Friday night was outside under a nice tent. Then the sky opened up and it rained like crazy for about 20 minutes. The tent held up but those of us sitting on the edge got pretty soaked. Gov. Mark Gordon was in a good mood and announced: “Here in Wyoming, we never, never complain about the rain!”

We sat with Chuck and Katie Brown of Wheatland, Susan and Doug Samuelson of Cheyenne and Kim and Mary Kay Love of Sheridan.

Author CJ Box was there and said the new TV series called Joe Pickett is progressing nicely. More on that later. Very exciting news.

Some other folks there included Katie Legerski, Jon Downing and a slew of people from all around the state. I apologize for omitting their names. It was a who’s who of generous Wyoming folks.

Later that evening, we attended the induction ceremony at UW of some fantastic former Cowboy athletes. They were also recognized during halftime. My personal favorite was “The Greybull Rifle,” Tom Wilkinson, who went onto fame in the Canadian Professional Football League.

Special note: The UW band was outstanding. They even performed a song from the rock group Queen. Not an easy play for a marching band.

There were huge amounts of tailgating events also being held in the football team’s practice facility. As for COVID, we saw probably 10 people masked up during the whole time outside. Plus, there was a nurse named Terri Garner roaming around with a mask on asking people to get vaccinated. She predicted this game could be a super-spreader event.

Montana State brought a large group of fans, but the overwhelming fan base (27,000 strong) was pro-Cowboy “gold or brown.” And yes, with less than 1 minute remaining, the Cowboys snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, 19-16.

We spent the second half in the Wildcatter Suites. What a nice facility! Ran into Dave Crum of Casper, Judy and Don Legerski of Lander and old pal Gus Fleischli of Cheyenne. Gus just turned 95 and is a World War II vet.

I was looking around for my old friend Joe Glode from Saratoga but missed him. Sorry to report his wife Julie passed away earlier this year.

I ran into Keener Fry all over the place. He was truly everywhere from their tailgater stand, to the Hall of Fame banquet, to leading the folks at the Wildcatter Suites in cheering on the Pokes in the final minutes. He is in charge of the UW Alumni Association.

It was fun seeing Tommy and Patty Massey, Tom Massey and Wade and Robyn Alexander, all of Lander, in the tailgate area. Robyn had her arm in a sling from Tommy John surgery.

It is easy to love being in southeast Wyoming on a game day in September. Life just does not get any better than this. It was a wonderful time full of fantastic Cowboy fans.