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Crossroads

Feb 16, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

We noted with some amusement a story picked up by the Associated Press and distributed statewide earlier this week. It told of the economic excitement being felt in Rawlins as the date neared for that city to host a regional high school wrestling tournament.

The wire service noted that Rawlins expected more than 300 wrestlers in town, determining that such news warranted statewide circulation.

More power to Rawlins, of course, but Riverton seems to host an event of that size or larger -- much larger -- just about every month.

The point is not to boast in comparison to Rawlins, a city about the same size as Riverton, but instead to remind our own residents how important our city is to planners of events around Wyoming, as well as how important those events are to us.

What a lineup we've either hosted or are about to host this winter. In December it was the Wyoming State Drama Festival. Not long after came the Wyoming Mid-Winter Fire School. This month has brought the enormous Ron Thon Memorial wrestling tournament, and last week saw both the district middle school wrestling tournament and the Class 4-A regional swim meet on the same day.

In the weeks ahead, we'll be the site for the Class 1-A/2-A boys and girls regional basketball tournament in partnership with Lander, then the Class 4-A West regional basketball tournament featuring the Riverton Wolverine boys and girls and 10 other teams.

Following close on the heels of the basketball tournaments will be the National Forensic League District tournament, featuring the best in speech and debate students from nearly two dozen high schools. Then comes the annual Rocky Mountain Beef Expo.

The preceding list is incomplete, and we apologize to any big events that were left out. Mentioned or not, they demonstrate our community's key role as a centralized population center that has the facilities, staff, lodging and other attractions and accommodations to host well-run events in an accessible location.

This is nothing new to longtime community backers, but it's worth noting every once in awhile for the record as city administrations change, new school personnel take over, and as the average citizen's memory might begin to fade as to the vitality these events bring to town.

Never forget that whatever else happens, we are blessed with the gift of geography as a crossroads community in the center of a big state where the towns are far apart. When it's time to get people together for an event that requires lots of public space, we're always near the top of the preference list.

Let's always be thankful for that, always promote ourselves as an event location, always be prepared to host those who would convene here, and always be appreciative of the visitors who contribute so much to our economy while they are here. If we can build and maintain a good community reputation to go with our happy accident of location, it will ensure an important economic safeguard for us even when tough times for Wyoming do arrive.

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