Thoughts from Dale Steenbergen-
First a great song by the legendary John Denver. Listen to Rocky Mountain High.
COVID-19 has been a generational event for all of us. The exciting implications include political fortunes that have been won or lost. Wyoming is no different in this respect, and time will tell if the gamblers placed their bets appropriately.
I was recently driving back from Oklahoma City, where we had just participated in the first annual Cattleman’s Congress. The show was born as a worthwhile alternative to Denver’s National Western Stock Show, which was canceled because of COVID-19. By the end of the event, it was fair to say, the show had emerged as a potential permanent replacement for the iconic and historical event long held in the Denver stockyards.
The Denver stock show is rumored to have an $85 million impact on the Denver metro area. I honestly don’t know if the $85 million figure is accurate, but it is certain that as $100,000 bulls are unloaded and bedded down for ten days, the economic fortune of Denver has benefitted.
The National Western Stock Show, which has been around since the early 1900s, may not be dead because of the 2021 cancelation, but its future is certainly now in question. Those who raise larger cattle breeds are definitely having severe discussions about permanently moving their national and points shows further east to Oklahoma.
What does this have to do with COVID-19? It is about staying in the fight.
I get it that every state has a slightly different set of rules. The difference has been how states and organizations have worked to develop solutions to do what they can rather than wringing their hands, saying we are just up the creek and there is nothing we can do.
That is my point. The organizers who put the Cattleman’s Congress together – in record time, I might add – got to work. They addressed impossible problems like talking to thousands of cattle breeders across this country and letting them know where, what, who, and how.
It is probably not surprising to anyone that one of the drivers behind this effort was an entrepreneur who has been quite influential in our country and who has made an impact right here in Cheyenne. Bob Funk, the founder of Express Personnel Services and a rancher himself, drove the effort to organize and make the Cattleman’s Congress a success.
I see entrepreneurs who are doing this kind of work every day. They may not be helping to put together national cattle shows, but they are figuring out ways to succeed, regardless of the environment around them. These hard-working men and women are the ones that answer the hard questions – they are the folks that get it done, and they represent the winners.
I am proud to represent these folks at the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce. Many will call them fools, others will call them risky, and some will call them mere dreamers. Personally, I call them our future, and I am honored to be involved with each of them.