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Liberty Lausterer, our guest blogger, is back with another look at life in Wyoming from a new resident’s eyes. We greatly appreciate learning what our state looks & learns like to someone new – always keeps the perspective fresh!
Wilson, Wyoming’s Answer to the Winter Doldrums
by Liberty Lausterer
As a newcomer to Wyoming I have paid close attention when someone tells me what they do to make it through these long, cold winter months. The advice has been wide and varied: take up a winter sport, learn a new hobby like knitting, take full advantage of your Netflix membership, read those books that have been on your list for eons, and be sure to take a trip to a warmer climate in April or May (a.k.a. “Get the hell out of Dodge.”). This is great advice but you may have noticed that many of these and other winter activities are solitary ones. In a sparsely populated state that is beset by hostile weather for much of the year, how does one keep from growing lonely and isolated? Where do you go in subzero temperatures to connect with other people?
Wilson, Wyoming’s answer to the winter doldrums is the Stagecoach Bar. Over the past seventy years the Stagecoach Bar has been that rare place where people from all walks of life are brought together by music and dancing. It’s the place people could stay connected to each other through snow and ice, despite frigid temps and unrelenting winds. On any given Sunday evening one can see wranglers, hippies, bikers, cowboys, ski bums, millionaires, dudes, and curmudgeons on the dance floor together. The story of how a bar became the glue that holds together an unlikely mix of people has been told by filmmaker Jennifer Tennican in her documentary “The Stagecoach Bar: An American Crossroads.”
If you are interested to learn how the history of a bar could mirror the history of an entire region (Jackson Hole) and become a powerful unifying force, Tennican’s film is worth watching. But, more importantly, if you long for an experience of authentic community in your neck of the woods, then this film will provide inspiration and a reason to head to your local watering hole.
Tennican’s documentary will be screened at the Center for the Arts in Jackson on March 14th and the WYO Theater in Sheridan on May 24th. It will also air on Wyoming PBS in May, and on dozens of other PBS stations across the country.