April 12, 2022

Wind River Country is unlike any other place when it comes to Independence Day celebrations. For years, the communities of Wind River Country have hosted annual events that have turned into traditions, bringing thousands of visitors to the area each year. From parades to rodeos to fireworks, Wind River Country comes together to celebrate freedom and independence in a way that leaves visitors reminiscing on these events for years to come.

Dubois

Dubois may be small, but it goes big for the 4th of July weekend. The old West cowboy town takes pride in its 4th of July festivities, and every year, the town fills with visitors and residents ready to celebrate.

Dubois kicks off the holiday weekend with a true small-town rodeo that takes place every Friday during the summer months in the Clarence Allison Memorial Arena on the east side of town. In addition to the classic racing and roping events, the Dubois Friday Night Rodeo features mini bull riding, mutton bustin’ and a kids calf scramble. 

Dubois Wyoming Friday night rodeos
Dubois Friday Night Rodeo. Photo: Bill Sincavage

The morning of July 4 begins with Kiwanis Kids’ Games in Dubois Town Park. Games include sack, stick horse and three-legged races, as well as a water balloon toss and a chance to win prizes.

Stop by the Opportunity Shop’s Annual Sidewalk Sale on the corner of South 1st Street to see featured items from every department at blowout prices.

Horses, classic cars, military vehicles and tanks, fire trucks, tractors and a wide variety of floats all line up for the Annual 4th of July Parade that takes place at 2 p.m. on Ramshorn Street and goes from Dubois Town Park to the First Street intersection. Spectators line the street with anticipation to see a one-of-a-kind parade. “The main draw is the parade. It really is what Dubois’ 4th of July is well known for,” says Jennifer Marshall Weydeveld, Executive Director of the Dubois Chamber of Commerce.

Leading the parade is the Grand Marshal on the VFW float, followed by equine elements featuring folks from the rodeo, dude ranches, cowboys and cowgirls. Many of the outfitters from the area participate, as well as the National Bighorn Sheep Center and Search and Rescue. Last but not least, the floats are followed by the National Museum of Military Vehicles and some of their tanks and vehicles. “This parade is special because it showcases everything that Dubois has to offer with family-friendly events and great MCs,” says Weydeveld.

Afterwards, the crowd disperses to an afternoon filled with fun events. The Ice Cream Social takes place at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church grounds. It’s a fun activity for kids, and a great way to cool off with fun flavors and toppings.

Another fun afternoon event is the Ducky Derby at Horse Creek Bridge. Purchase a rubber ducky from local cub scouts. They’re dumped into Horse Creek after the parade. The ducks are then fished out downstream and the winner walks away with a prize.

Later in the evening, the town gathers at the Dubois Scenic Overlook for a spectacular fireworks show. The Overlook is not only easily accessible, but is also one of the best vantage points in the Dubois area, making it the perfect place to watch the show. The fireworks are sponsored by the Town of Dubois with donations from the Never Sweat Recreation Board, Dubois Volunteer Fire Department and others.

Lander

Lander is perhaps one of the most exciting places to be on July 4. Lander goes all in on Independence Day, with its annual parade, rodeo and other events that draw thousands of visitors to the city. From sunup to sun down, there are endless festivities to enjoy.

Pioneer Days Rodeo. Photo: Matthew Spaulding

The Fremont Toyota Pioneer Days Rodeo takes place every year on the evenings of July 3 and 4 and is sponsored by Lander Old Timer’s Rodeo Association (LOTRA). “This year is the 128th Fremont Toyota Pioneer Days Rodeo, also known as The World’s Oldest Paid Rodeo,” says Paula McCormick, President of LOTRA. The rodeo features traditional western rodeo events including Indian relay races, bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback riding, as well as barrel racing and roping.

Lander starts off July 4 bright and early with the Lander Challenge for Charities Half Marathon around the Baldwin Creek Loop. Participants have the option to run a half marathon, 5k or the Kids’ One-Mile Mad Dash. Runners and walkers from the Lander community—and from many other states—participate in this scenic walk and/or run before the day really takes off.

The Lander Senior Center Pancake Breakfast goes from 7 to 9 a.m. Stop by for some pancakes, sausage, orange juice and coffee to start your day right.

Lander 4th of July Parade. Photo: Melanie Hoefle

The annual 4th of July Parade is so well known that locals set up their chairs along the street the night before the parade. The 10 a.m. parade, which takes place on Main Street, hosts a wide variety of floats and vehicles, and the city swells as thousands of locals and visitors gather to watch. As the parade comes to an end, fire trucks turn their hoses to the sky and water rains down on spectators.

Afternoon events after the parade are endless. There’s the option of hiking the Popo Agie Falls Trail in Sinks Canyon or posting up by Frye Lake or Worthen Reservoir to cool off in the cold water and escape the heat. Some like to take the afternoon off and relax at home, playing games and cooking lunch. “After the parade, families have the opportunity to create their own 4th of July traditions,” McCormick says. There’s also the option of going to the Rotary Club’s Annual Buffalo BBQ. Head to Lander City Park between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to feast on locally made buffalo brats, burgers, slaw and chips. The “Day in the Park after the Parade” also includes beer, ice cream and live music.

Lander Skyline. Photo: Scott Copeland

Once the sun begins to set is when the city really comes to life. Many folks head to the rodeo grounds to enjoy the second day of the Fremont Toyota Pioneer Days Rodeo, while others prepare to light up the sky with their friends or families. Fireworks are legal within city limits on July 4 in Lander, and locals truly take that to heart. “The fireworks in Lander are top notch. The citizen’s fireworks throughout every neighborhood rival the city fireworks at the rodeo grounds. Every year I am in awe, and every year is better than the last. You can look in any direction and see a great show,” says Anne Even, Community Development Coordinator for the City of Lander.

Whether you’re celebrating July 4 in Dubois, Lander or anywhere else in Wind River Country, there are endless events and activities that can be enjoyed. Each of the communities take pride in their 4th of July celebrations, and many visitors come back year after year for more. Between festivities, be sure to check out Hudson, Riverton, Shoshoni and the Wind River Indian Reservation to experience all that Wind River Country has to offer. From culture to cuisine to outdoor recreation, there’s something for everyone. Stay safe and have a fantastic 4th of July weekend in Wind River Country.

Posted in Featured Events, Notes From the Field