Laramie: the hub of Albany County

Actor Fuller highlights Jubilee Days in July

LARAMIE – Walk in the footsteps of an infamous outlaw, wander through an art-filled tableau or cruise some of Wyoming’s best scenery, there’s a lot to do in Laramie and Albany County.
“Laramie is a really cool mixture of history and outdoor adventure,” said Mike Gray, assistant director of the Laramie and Albany County Visitors Bureau. “We have mountain ranges, we have hiking, biking fly fishing - kind of the core essentials of outdoor stuff.
“And we have more than 10 museums,” he said. “There’s always something going on.”
The main hurrah of the summer season in Laramie is the annual Jubilee Days festival, set around the week of July 10, marking Wyoming statehood. Jubilee Days this year will run from July 8 to July 16 with parades, rodeos, carnivals and the popular Brew Fest.
A special attraction at this year’s Jubilee Days will be actor Robert Fuller, who portrayed Jess Harper in the NBC western series, “Laramie, which ran from 1958 to 1963. Fuller will act as Grand Marshal for the Jubilee Days parade on
July 15.
One of the main draws to Laramie visitors is the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site. All that’s needed is an interest in Wyoming history, but the site also attracts visitors who are interested in law enforcement and “penitentiary history,” said site superintendent Deborah Amend. And Fuller will be at the site, meeting with fans from around the world, on July 14.
As travel dollars become more scarce, the $5 admission fee to the site offers a lot of bang for the buck, Amend said. With self-guided and staff-guided tours available daily, people can spend an hour or half a day, immersing themselves in the Cowboy State’s past.
Built in 1872, the facility served as a federal prison until 1890. It was converted to the Wyoming State Penitentiary until 1903, when the University of Wyoming Department of Agriculture took over as its primary campus for
86 years.
Attractions at the prison site include exhibits detailing that agriculture history, as well as what life was like for both prisoners and guards at
the facility.
The agricultural heritage of the Cowboy State “is another component of the site’s history,” Amend said. “It’s a great way to tie in Wyoming agriculture and ranching history as well.”
But what attracts most visitors to the historical prison is an interest in the life of Robert LeRoy Parker, one of the most infamous of the 1,063 inmates who once called the prison home. Parker is better known as Butch Cassidy.
“He’s an iconic figure in American history,” Amend said. “History has a real story to tell (about Cassidy), and there’s no definite end to his story. There’s just a big
question mark.”
But it’s not all about the past in Laramie. While strolling around the historic downtown area, be sure to keep your eyes open - there’s art around virtually every corner, too.
A collaboration between the University of Wyoming art museum and Laramie Main Street, a massive, public art project was launched in 2011. Downtown business owners gave a group of Albany County artists carte blanche with the exteriors of their buildings and the Downtown Mural Project was born.
“We saw a need to take art outside of the museum and into the community, to make it completely free and accessible,” said Trey Sherwood, director of Laramie Main Street. “We’ve got artists graduating out of the university who want to move into the public art realm. One thing we’ve got to work with is a lot of
blank walls.”
There are currently 18 murals in the project, Sherwood said. Three additional pieces will be in the works
this summer.
The project respects historic preservation, selecting walls where the original facades had already been covered with paint or stucco, for example. The property owners donate their walls to the project.
“This is a project that’s open only to Albany County artists,” Sherwood said. ”We’re giving the artists free reign to celebrate why they love living
in Laramie.”


© 2019-Lingle Guide

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