Wyoming’s reputation stems more from a broad assumption of the greater American West. Personally, I believed that it was a land of plain and rough cowboys and cowgirls with deeply patriotic ancestry. I imagined that there were not enough people around to expose them to a fair number of perspectives in order for them to be socially cultured— but what importance does that have when they are homebodies, wholly satisfied with their small communities? After arriving in Laramie and experiencing a number of cultural events myself, I would say that I am able to respect the differences between my culture and Wyoming’s culture more and also surprised by the similarities between the two. So far, my favorite cultural events that I have experienced have been the Jubilee Days in Laramie.
In the first week of the trip, there was an opportunity to watch a ranch rodeo during Jubilee Days, or a celebration of Wyoming statehood. At the event, teams of four cattle hands were given four cows to either doctor, milk, brand, or load onto a truck. I had learned a couple days before that Wyoming cattle ranchers lost thousands of dollars every year because the climate is too dry to grow the ideal kind and amount of grass for cattle to grow, yet they persist because they are one of the many generations of ranchers in their family. I thought it was a little ridiculous, especially when the land that these cattle ranchers own are worth an incredible amount, but I respected it. I couldn’t understand why they felt and acted the way that they did, but I understood that my perspective was biased, which is why I was excited to attend the rodeo. At first, the handling of the cows and their cries were unsettling, but I realized how particular the competing cowboys’ and cowgirls’ procedures to complete each task were. None of the cows or ranch hands were injured despite the objectives of their contest and limited time they were given. It is a skilled craft that is essential within Western culture, and interrupting its generational determinism is obscene because it will lead to the extinction of an obscure art. I had never seen such vast areas of property before experiencing Wyoming, and they became less foreign after learning about the unending love that traditional ranch owners have for their land.