You already know that I’m curious. So, you wont be surprised to know that it was curiosity that first took me to Chugwater, Wyoming.
Following up on an invitation to visit some friends in Sheridan, I got hungry and started looking for a place to eat. As luck would have it, the next sign I saw read, Chugwater. Naturally, a name like that was cheese on a trap for me. I turned up the road and found myself in the smallest, most desolate place I’d ever been.
It wasnt completely deserted. There were a few local businesses still open, including the Chugwater Chili facility, and the Chugwater Soda Fountain (Beer – Liquor – Gifts). I decided to drop into the latter and see what I might find for lunch.
Inside, the Chugwater Soda Fountain is much as you might expect. You enter into an open room, with a few small tables. To the right is a long wooden bar, with several tall stools. Behind the bar is a very large wall mirror. At its base sits a selection of mixers, just like you’ve seen in a thousand old movies. That day, I did not get a soda. Instead, I opted for a BLT and iced tea.
In the time since that visit, Chugwater hasnt changed, as far as I can tell.
My most recent trip had me staying longer. I went up purposely, to enjoy the annual Chugwater Chili Cook Off. I’d seen it online, promising lots of food, live music, and vendors of all kinds. It sounded like the kind of thing that readers might enjoy.
The park was full when I arrived, early in the afternoon. People were making the rounds to see the vendors’ wares. Kids ran everywhere, and there was, indeed, plenty of food. Since it was a Chili Cook Off, I decided to have a chili dog from Hot Dogs, Etc.* Great choice!
The Cook Off is the biggest event on Chugwater’s calendar. It draws hundreds of people from surrounding towns, for a chance to meet up with neighbors and friends. The lone city park fills up with vendors, musicians, visitors and townsfolk, ready for a good time. Vendors’ tents brim with baubles of all sorts, from locally made jewelry to handmade bags, scarves, and even Yard Yahtzee. (Sorry. No photo.)
This year, music was provided by a tight little southern rock band, named Southern Fryed. They served it up hot and sweet, which was the perfect vibe for a summer afternoon, in the shade.
In all, it was a very good day. Stay tuned for more about the area around Chugwater, and for interviews with some of the people I met there. You know my motto: Everyone is a story, developing day by day. Here are Dick and Tina Willis. More about them to come.