By: Nick Perkins

I took one last walk.

For the past 3 years, I’ve lived in an apartment building in Downtown Casper. It had been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to live in that building, as it reminded me of a building one would see in New York City. It was old, architecturally sound and very, very tall. It had character and probably a thousand stories to tell. Even better, it was upstairs from a local deli (Sandwich Bar represent!). I always wanted to live in that building and, for a handful of years, I did just that. The best part of the building was that it was right in the middle of downtown, the heart of The District.

For years, Casper’s downtown area was seen as ‘dumpy.’ It was somewhere that your parents warned you not to find yourselves in after dark. Though it had a few bars, a movie theater and an old-timey Italian restaurant, downtown was still viewed to be ‘the wrong side of the tracks.’

That all changed a few years ago. A select group of innovators saw the potential in Downtown Casper, and they wanted to turn it into a destination spot for tourists and locals alike. Places like Yellowstone Garage and The Office Bar & Grill reinvented themselves. They started featuring more local bands, musicians and artists. ART 321 began hosting ‘Art Walks,’ that brought attention to all of the unique boutiques that lined the downtown streets. New establishments, like the David Street Station and The Gaslight Social were created and they very quickly became highlights of the downtown district.

Undoubtedly, the Eclipse Festival in 2017 played an enormous part in the popularity of downtown. People from all across the world gathered on our humble town for what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But the businesses in The District didn’t want downtown to be a hot spot just once. They wanted it to be a destination for weeks, months, years to come.

So, they gathered together and got to work.

That work has resulted in a flourishing district that features multiple events, every night and year-round. It’s home to coffee shops and restaurants and bars and art galleries and outdoor concert venues and so much more. Downtown Casper has grown so much in such a short amount of time and it’s been a true highlight of my life to see the town I grew up in turn into such a safe place for culture, diversity, artists and the arts.

I used to spend hours upon hours walking around The District. Whether there was an event going on or not, I would meander past all of the businesses, looking in windows and sometimes going inside for a cup of coffee. It was not just the businesses I loved about Casper District- it was the people who made up those businesses. And really, that’s the most important aspect of Downtown Casper- the people. It was the people who made this all possible and it is the people who will continue to make it possible one last time.

As I was packing up my apartment for a new adventure, I decided to take a break from wrapping boxes and trying to find a place for everything. I needed the break, too. Moving is stressful. So, I did what I always used to do when I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

I took one last walk.

 

My walk first leads me to David Street. The David Street Station, constructed in conjunction with the Eclipse Festival, became a beacon in The District. It offers movie nights, concerts, and a host of other events year-round. During the Christmas season, the David Street Station brings in a huge Christmas tree and places right in the center, surrounded by an ice-skating rink.

For a long time, one of my favorite things to do at night was to look out the window at its glistening lights. Sometimes, late at night, I would even walk around inside, taking in the beauty of the architecture and the spirit of what the building signified. It really is a beacon- a lighthouse of The District, guiding all of us to its glow.

I would walk there again on this night, letting the silence overwhelm me in its dichotomy from even just a few hours earlier. Then, there was music and laughter and fellowship, and the sounds echoed throughout downtown. But now? Now it’s just me and the silence.

Walking a little further, I find myself in front of the Yellowstone Garage. This was truly the one that started it all. Way before art walks and summer movie nights and concerts, there was John Huff and his Yellowstone Garage, rocking the block every Thursday night and showing Casper just how boisterous the downtown area could be. It was Huff who first saw the potential of Downtown Casper and it was he who would make Thursdays the new Fridays with Rock the Block. The rest of downtown would follow shortly thereafter.

I circle back around to Ash Street and saunter over to The Gaslight Social. This was, for a while, the ‘new kid in town,’ but it didn’t take long for it to ingratiate itself to the community and stand out amongst its peers. Yes, The Gaslight is a bar. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a bar, a restaurant, an arcade and more. It hosts concerts, fundraisers, parties and a host of other events and get-togethers.

I have a love/hate relationship with The Gaslight. On one hand, it’s such an incredible venue full of amazing bartenders and servers. It’s owned by a great family who have poured a lot of money into the community. And it has Pac-Man. On the other hand, I made the mistake of going to the place on my 30th birthday, which happened to be a night that my ex-girlfriend was working there. She ended up serving me nachos and then making out with some dude right behind me, thus ruining the milestone day.

It hurt then, but I smile now, in spite of myself. That’s just pretty much how my life goes.

I roll my eyes and move on, coming to Urban Bottle. This ‘Liquor Store Love Story’ has all the makings of a classic tale. It’s got history, trials, tribulations, victories and defeats. Like most businesses in The District, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to UB. What once started out as a mere liquor store turned into a tasting room, a concert hall and a place to write your own love story. Urban Bottle has catered numerous events in The District and beyond, but it’s the store itself that has firmly cemented itself as a true highlight of The District.

Speaking of highlights of The District, we’re not even sure The District would exist if it weren’t for The Art Walk, put on by ART 321 and the Casper Artist’s Guild. ART 321 is a gallery of ideas, featuring paintings, photographs, sculptures and more. It is a stage in which local artists can showcase their work, sell their work and immortalize themselves in the annals of the Casper art scene. The Art Walk, especially, is an opportunity for local businesses and individuals to come together and offer their talents to the community. Every Thursday in the summer, there would be music, games, food trucks, and a slew of other activities that welcomed the community to gather together in fellowship. The Art Walk is what made The District a destination, and it will only continue to grow in the coming years.

As I continued my own art walk, I stopped for a moment at The Office Bar & Grill. Out of every other business downtown, it was The Office that was most supportive of The Casper District and what we’re trying to do. Jim and Karen Kanelos are the anchors of The District and they are two of the sweetest, kindest, most giving people I have ever met. That aside, their bar and grill is a great venue that serves almost any purpose. For those who like to have fun but get overwhelmed when surrounded by hoards of people, The Office is a perfect venue to wet your whistle and feed your soul. With events like Singo Bingo, karaoke every weekend and the NFL Sunday Package, there is no better place to spend some time than The Office.

I stop walking for a moment and take one last glance at the place. I went to Karen and Jim’s since it had actually been called ‘Karen & Jim’s.’ I was there when it was adorned with movie memorabilia and that’s what first made me fall in love with the place. Many drunken nights were spent singing my heart out during karaoke. I’m pretty I started and ended relationships in the place. I definitely threw up a time or two. During that time, I got to see the love that Karen and Jim had- for each other and for their customers.

I actually get a bit misty-eyed thinking about those times. I never thought that Karen and Jim would become friends of mine, but I am so glad they did. Yeah, The Office is probably my favorite joint in The District. It may be called The Office, but if there’s any place in The District that feels like home, it’s Karen and Jim’s.

 

I start walking again and glance at all of the other incredible businesses. There’s The Science Zone, The Sand Trap, Frosted Topps and more. Frosty’s Bar & Grill is, for my money, the best self-professed ‘dive bar’ in town. Scarlow’s Gallery is, quite possibly, the most gorgeous building in The District and it features some of the coolest, most diverse art you will ever see. Plus, it serves delicious coffee.

Speaking of coffee,  Metro Coffee Co. is the coolest coffee shop in town and that is a hill I have no problem dying on. Not only is the venue itself awesome (as are the baristas), it’s also an amazing stage for Casper’s young people. Metro puts on weekly shows for Casper’s budding musicians, poets, comics and more. It is a safe place for artists to experiment and it’s one of the first (only) places I ever tried to be a musician as well. Metro was here long before Downtown Casper became ‘cool,’ and, back then, it added some much-needed culture to an otherwise bland location.

The District is full of culture now. It’s full of music and laughter and friendship and food. It’s full of art. Mostly, it’s full of people now. And it’s those people who I am going to miss most as I move out of my apartment, eager to walk down other roads, find other businesses and support other local arts and artists.

I decide to start walking back, now. I don’t know where my path will take me or where I’ll end up walking. But wherever I go, and with whatever I do, I will always keep a piece of Downtown Casper in my heart. The District is home, that’s all.

And home is where the art is.

 

For a full list of the businesses of The District, visit our Facebook Page.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Why do we fall? It’s a question that scholars have been trying to find the answer to for centuries.

We lose jobs, end relationships, witness the passing of loved ones. We all have found ourselves at rock bottom and have needed a hand to help pull us up. We all stumble, we all falter, we all fail. We all fall, but who do we turn to, what do we do when we feel can’t seem to stop falling?

That is a question that the men and women who are producing The Uprising Music Festival hope to answer. On August 10th, at The David Street Station, there will be a community-wide day of worship and conversation, featuring national musical acts like Matt Maher, Carmen Justice and The Color, as well as local worship teams. The event will also feature various speakers sharing their story and hearing the stories of others.

Tom Grogan, a history teacher and football coach at Natrona County High School and one of the producers of The Uprising, says that this event is one designed to bring people of all denominations, all beliefs really, together for a day of worship, fellowship and encouragement.

“The Uprising was founded on the idea of community worship,” Grogan says. “There are very few opportunities for the church community in Casper (and Wyoming) to rally around each other, build each other up, and grow together as Christians.”

The decision to hold the event at David Street Station just speaks to the versatility of the plaza. As a beacon for The District, David Street Station plays host to a number of community-wide events. From movie nights, to concert series, splash pads to skating rinks, The David Street Station acts as a resource for the city and all of its events. It’s used as a way to bring people together, which is exactly why those in charge of The Uprising thought it would be the perfect venue for their event.

“We are very excited to be hosting this event at the David Street location,” Grogan says. “Not only is Casper a central city for all Wyoming citizens traveling, but downtown Casper has been rejuvenated and revitalized, making events like The Uprising a draw and a great opportunity to connect.”

And really, that’s all The Uprising wants to do- help people connect. There will be no talks of fire and brimstone, sinners and saints (here’s the trick- we’re all both, depending on the day). The Uprising will focus on lifting each other up; not just fellow Christians, but everybody who might need a little uplifting.

“We firmly believe that growth, in any facet, is necessary on an individual and communal level,” Grogan states. “It’s important to have opportunities to grow in both arenas.  We are very excited to provide a great music festival, but also a number of short teaching lessons and testimonies to promote personal growth.  We want to equip families with practical applications for marriage and parenting, challenge leaders to be better, and foster deeper relationships.  This year, The Uprising has a little different feel than previous years.  The underlying theme is “RISE UP” and the call-to-action is intended to promote continuous reflection and thought long after The Uprising is over.”

God is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The Uprising isn’t designed to tell people what God is. It’s designed to show people who God is. It is a festival that was created to show that God is not here to knock us down, but to help us rise up.

So then- why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.

 

The Uprising Festival will be held at the David Street Station on Saturday, August 10th, from 12pm-10pm. It is a free event for the community. For more information, visit The Uprising Facebook page.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

“We’re in the endgame now.” When Doctor Strange uttered that line to Tony Stark towards the end of Avengers: Infinity War, audiences had no idea what they would be in for with the following film. While Infinity War ended on a very somber note, it was the follow up, Avengers: Endgame that would really leave a lasting impression.

Picking up after the events of Infinity War, we find our heroes broken, beaten and divided. Tony Stark and Nebula are still stuck in space and they’re running low on food and oxygen. Cap is leading a support group in the veins of an AA or NA meeting. Black Widow seems to have taken on the role as the ‘leader’ of the remaining Avengers, which consist of War Machine, Rocket Raccoon, Captain Marvel and Okoye. Hawkeye has turned into (even more of) a vigilante and Ant-Man, well, Ant-Man has been stuck in the Quantum Realm.

All of this is to say, our Avengers aren’t doing much avenging. Without spoiling too much (but, honestly, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, who even are you?) it takes a while for the band to get back together but, when they finally do, it’s not long before they go face-to-face with  Thanos yet again. The results differ from those of Infinity War and Thor heeds the advice that was offered to him in the previous movie, but the biggest priority now that they’re back together is to avenge the fallen.

They don’t just want to avenge them, however- they want to bring them all back. And thus begins the major story of the movie.

Avengers: Endgame is a lot of things. It’s big, for one. This film features characters we know and love, characters we’ve quite literally grown up watching. Everyone gets a small moment to shine and there are enough of those moments to make it a memorable film just by themselves.

But the real victory here is not the action or the set pieces or the remarkable visuals. It isn’t the fighting or the flying or the “super heroism.” The biggest victory of this film is the amount of heart it’s able to convey. Endgame, for many, is more than just a movie. It’s certainly more than just a “summer blockbuster.” Endgame, as its name implies, is not the beginning of the end of the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe- it’s the end of the beginning.

For the past 10 years, audiences have looked on as reluctant heroes find the strength, courage and character needed to stand up in the face of evil and avenge those who couldn’t fight for themselves. Whether it was a war monger, a god of mischief or a room full of Nazis, these heroes stood up to evil and didn’t flinch. They survived an age of Ultron and their own Civil War. Some members of the team were lost along the way but, through it all, they became heroes. They became legends.

Endgame, at just under a 3 hour runtime, features no wasted moments. Every shot matters, every line hits. Every moment resonates. This is a movie that needs to be seen a few times, and there is no better way to do that than by watching it at the Fox Movie theater, in Downtown Casper. Endgame is about to be released digitally and on home video and it’s definitely one to pick up ASAP. But this film needs to be seen on a big screen in order to fully felt. And that’s what this movie does. It makes you feel. And isn’t that the reason we go to the movies?

Avengers: Endgame is far from the end of the MCU. But for some of our heroes it is, indeed, the end of the line. But we were with them ‘til the end of the line and their endings are about as poetic as it gets. Some of our heroes move on, others die but all of them make their exits count. They did this because, like Tony Stark said way back when, “if we can’t save the world, you can be damn sure we’ll avenge it.”

They did.

 

Avengers: Endgame is now playing at the Fox Movie Palace in Downtown Casper. For showtimes and more, visit the Wyo Movie Facebook Page.

Go Back Home

By: Staff Writer

When it comes to live music you only really need a few things. One, you need some cool places for bands to play. Two you need a music-loving crowd to come out have some fun. Three, you need some good bands to take the reins and put on a show. And when we say “good bands” we mean bands that have some heart, soul, and a little talent.

Casper has always been a music town. From country bands of old to rock and roll, punk rock, heavy metal, bluegrass, and whatever it is the bands are doing now, the scene has always been there. Looking back on some of the bands that have come out of this town there is a common thread amongst them. There are some talented people and bands that have made their mark on this town and the music community.

With too many great acts to cover we chose our top seven but did include an Honorable Mention below for some other top talents as well.

Here are our picks for Casper’s top bands (in no particular order)


Zach Schommer
– As a current hit with Casper, Zach has made his name in this community. Great vocals, songs, and ability to keep the crowd. He’s a strong solo artist and we’d love to see how he would do in a full-on band situation. There is plenty of positive things to say about Zach but it would take too long to list them.

The Front – That’s right. Casper’s own punk rock threat. They’ve played all over, made a name, released some great tunes, moshed the pits, and stayed true to their roots along the way. Easily one of the most talented bands to come out of Casper and with a cult-like following they can break the rules if they want.

Eli Manor Band – A full-on blues band that does not disappoint. They searched deep in the crates to get their sound and were a solid go-to when it came to packing a party, show, or street scene in Casper. They have played regionally and with some big names making them a staple for this list. In a genre full of talent the Eli Manor band comes across as one of Casper’s best blues acts ever.

John May – Once a young lad who quietly came in with a guitar and played some songs for anyone who was interested. Now he’s built himself into a well-known figure. Having some successes in the industry John has performed with Jazz and contemporary legends and studio musicians such as Wayne Bergeron and Eric Marienthal, opened for such nationally acclaimed groups as The Three Twins Broadband (HBO’s Treme), award-winning songwriter Susan Gibson, The Young Dubliners of MTV’s Real World, and most recently Steve Bailey and Victor Wooten.

Chad Lore – We can’t say enough about this cat. Even when the music scene was small Chad has always been there to let us know it’s all going to be ok, just get another beer, oh and one for him too. He really is the one-man-show and knows how to play any crowd. If talent were tangible as in like a person walking around it might look like Chad Lore.

Beastwood – Heavy riff-rock soaked in sludge and southern barbeque. Then maybe served at the fair and labeled, not for the faint of heart. There have been plenty of hard rockers to kick the streets of Casper, but Beastwood found a way to make their sound stand out and shine. Rowdy rock with loads of attitude and riffs to match make this band infectious and can get even the non-believers to nod their heads to the beat. Talent comes in many shapes and sizes but in this case, it’s like a howling werewolf from the desert.

Seed N Stems – Although known now as “Eazyside” we will all remember them under the former name. Fun guys, good vibes, great songs, and the ability to play a cover and totally make it their own and do it any way they wanted with a punk-reggae style that put the crowd in party mode. They have been a Casper staple for years and always pack the house when they come out. They are all very talented, but they score extra for style points.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Wreckards • The Last Coyote • Steve Frame •  Quinlan Valdez

 

 

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Eddie Cochran was wrong- there is a cure to the Summertime Blues, and its name is The District. There is no need to wonder what you’re going to do this July, as The District has you covered! From 4th of July Destinations to Parade Day Hot Spots, we’ve compiled the best places to spend the best days of the Summer.

Before you raise a fuss or holler, let us tell you where to spend your hard-earned dollar (his lyrics, not ours) this month as Casper District presents: This is Our Independence Day- a Guide to July.

For years, mankind clamored for the days of summer to begin. ‘Mankind.’ That word should have a new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united by our common interests.

Luckily, for all of us, many of those common interests can be found in The District.

July 4th and July 9th are big days in Casper, Wyoming, especially in The District. Various bars and venues offer live music, food & drink specials and more to celebrate both American and civic pride days. While the Casper Events Center and Alcova Lakeside Marina put on a heck of a show every year, neither of those locations are The District, so we don’t care about them.

(Editor’s Note: He’s kidding. Both locations offer a lot of fun and beautiful scenery and we couldn’t recommend them any higher).

For the purposes of this article, however, we are going to focus on a couple of the hottest venues that will be open on the 4th of July and Parade Day, which takes place on July 10th.

Where to go on the 4th of July

Listen. You are probably not going to find a better place to watch the fireworks than the Casper Events Center. Get close enough to imagine that the lights could fall on you and pretend, just for a minute, that all is right with the world. Fireworks Show aside, however- w hat do you do with the rest of your day?

 

We suggest foregoing the park or your backyard for your annual 4th of July BBQ. Bring your BBQ to the David Street Station. Or, for the romantic, bring a blanket, a bottle of wine (maybe…let us get back to you on the open container laws on this day), a guitar and some nibbles and have your own perfect day with your own perfect date. This idea is for couples, both young and old, that want to celebrate that elusive summer romance. There is no better way to do this than by enjoying the ambience of the David Street Station. Picnic at The Station during the day, enjoy the fireworks at night and maybe, just maybe, you will share your first kiss while “This Magic Moment” plays in the background.

If romance isn’t your cup of tea (dump that s*** in the harbor), how about the antithesis of candlelight- karaoke. The Office Bar & Grill will be open for dinner until 7pm and the bar will be open until 9pm, which gives you plenty of time to eat, drink and sing your little hearts out. Has there ever been a more appropriate time than now to belt out “Proud to be an American?”

We think not.

Perhaps it’s fate that that day will be the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom; not from tyranny, oppression or persecution- but from getting totally annihilated and singing karaoke. If getting drunk and singing “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” isn’t the most patriotic thing one could do, we don’t know what is.

6 days later, The Office will be open again for Parade Day, with Party on the Patio. Parade Day, taking place this year on July 9th, has always been a highlight of Downtown Casper. This year will be no different, as The Office will once again be dusting off that old microphone and giving it to Max  Minimum! This will be the first outdoor concert of the summer on the new Office patio, and Minimum is sure to produce maximum effort. He will be performing at 6:30pm and then karaoke is once again the focal point, right up until closing time. The Office will also be offering various food and drink specials all night, as well. This is the perfect way to celebrate our town’s history, as well as our future.

What a wonderful world, indeed.

If making your own music isn’t your thing, then check out Yellowstone Garage on July 4th. They will be hosting, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, Aquile. Aquile is the perfect example of a hometown boy making good and he’ll be returning to his hometown to provide an evening of incredible music and stories. Aquile, a Casper native, was a finalist on Season 3 of The Voice and he has parlayed that into a very successful music career in California. But home has always been where is heart is, and he cannot wait to perform at Yellowstone Garage this 4th of July.

In addition to the festivities being presented at The Office, Frosty’s Bar & Grill will also be throwing its annual Parade Day Party! It will feature music from local bands, including: The Last Coyote, Ford & Fossil, Jim Oliver, Kaspen Haley, Kevin Paul’s Ghost, Jeff Stanley, The Wreckards and more! Parade Day at Frosty’s has become a downtown institution, and this year will be no different. They will be serving up food and drink specials all day, so there is no better place than Frosty’s to let your civic flag fly. And did we mention there’s NO cover? Also, in honor of our independence, every veteran and police, fire and EMS personnel will receive a beer on the house!

Those are just a few of the venues providing awesome, memorable, free events on the 4th of July and Parade Day.  Check back here as the dates approach and we will add any upcoming events, yet to be announced! With that being said, we’ve told you where to go and what to do on these especially exciting days. But what about what not to do?

What Not to Do on 4th of July and Parade Day

Don’t:

• Drink copious amounts of alcohol and then decide it would be a good idea to set off your own fireworks. It isn’t.

• Drink copious amounts of alcohol, and then decide it would be a good idea to get behind the wheel of a car. It isn’t.

• Put ketchup on your hot dog.

• Shoot fireworks at your brother or mother-in-law…even if they do deserve it.

• Sing “Firework” by Katy Perry. At all. At any point in the day.

• Double dip the chip.

• Steal beer out of your fellow onlooker’s cooler.

• Play anything other than the radio during the Fireworks show.

• Tell people that Donald Trump is the GOAT.

• Forget that we live in the greatest country in the world, with the best people, in one of the best states. Don’t forget to have an amazing time with friends and family. Don’t forget to eat and drink as much as you can (but be responsible about it). Don’t ever forget the men and women that have given their lives so that we can celebrate the best summer holidays in The District. Because of those people, we do not have to fight for our right to live, to exist.

We are able to celebrate these joyous occasions because we won that day and, now, we come together as a community. We put aside our differences, our ideals, our opinions and we look up in the sky. We forget about our trials, our tribulations, our bills, our problems. We forget about those things and, for just one moment, we remember what it’s like to be a kid, lost in the lights. We allow ourselves to be enchanted. On those days, the 4th and 9th of July, The District will stand as one, in civil liberty to declare in one voice:

We will not go quietly into the night.

We will not give up without a fight.

We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive.

On those days, we will celebrate our Independence Day.

And those celebrations will take place, right here, in The District.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

There are 5 things that Rich Logan loved more than anything else: his family, his friends, his town and, perhaps more than anything else, honestly, his cars & his bikes. Okay, there is nothing that mattered more to Rich than his family and friends…but he sure did love his toys.

Always a car and bike enthusiast, Rich Logan was a frequent at many a car/motorcycle show when he was alive. When he passed away last year, after a valiant battle against cancer, Logan left behind a grieving widow, a hurt community and some pretty awesome cars.

Logan actually gave a few of his cars to his close friend John Huff, owner of Yellowstone Garage. Huff and Logan were close; as close as two men could be, really. Huff even paid tribute to his friend by naming his own son Logan.

“I knew Rich Logan since about 1975,” John Huff, owner of Yellowstone Garage stated. “I got to be real good friends with him; he worked in the oil field like I did and he was a really good guy. He helped people. He loved cars. He got cancer a little over 2 years ago and got sick and I watched him go from ‘healthy’ to ‘dead’ in about a year.  It was very painful to watch. He was a very kind and compassionate guy. Everybody loved him. It was tough.”

It’s never easy when a loved one passes away but, after the grieving process ended (as much as it ever really could end) Huff knew that he wanted to pay tribute to his friend in another way.

“We were sitting here, trying to come up with a couple ideas and we thought to ourselves, ‘we oughta have a car show a couple times this summer,’” Huff revealed.  “Rich’s widow, Cindy came to mind and my girlfriend, Wendi said ‘Why don’t we call it the Rich Logan Memorial Car Show?’”

“That was it,” Huff continued. “We told Cindy and she started crying. She’s cried a lot. We’re gonna have not just cars, but bikes too because Rich loved his bikes.”

“This will be a very sentimental event,” Huff added.

On Saturday, June 22nd, the Yellowstone Garage will be presenting the 2nd Annual  “Rich Logan Memorial Car and Bike Show.” From 11am to 2pm or later, the community is invited to come check out some amazing cars and motorcycles, eat great food, listen to some tunes and pay respect to a man that to have known was to have loved. Rich Logan loved his town as much as he loved having a good time.

From 11am-2pm, community members will gather to celebrate the life and loves of Rich Logan. It’s a free event that is open to the community. It’s family-friendly and will feature games for children, in addition to the toys for the grownups. There will be live music, courtesy of Rogue Radio, as well as various food vendors, activities and more. A $250 ‘People’s Choice Award’ will be awarded for the best car and bike at the show, but competition will be fierce and one has to believe that Logan himself will be watching the events unfold from his big La-Z-Boy in the sky. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Vietnam Vets Legacy Group, an organization that had been important to Logan for years.

Rich Logan was a good man, nobody will say any different. Now, the community has the chance to celebrate the life (and the vehicles) of Rich Logan while, partying out in the sun and enjoying all of the best parts about The District, which just so happen to be the very same things that Logan so proudly stood for- fun, fellowship, family, community and, last but certainly not least….cars. It was always about the cars for him and now the community has the chance to spend one more car show with Rich Logan.

 

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

We’ve truly been a part of something special. From June 6th – 9th, 2019 community members in Casper, Wyoming came together to celebrate art, expression and, most of all, love.

Hundreds of residents marched, danced, sang, spoke, laughed and cried their way through various shops, stages and bars over the course of the weekend. They took pride in not only who they are, but also in what they create. Whether it was a painting, a dance, an emblem or an anthem, Casper, as always, stood together in unison to support our local arts and our local hearts.

For many, Pride Fest/Nic Fest been more than just a memorable weekend. It’s been an opportunity to fully embrace themselves, without fear and without abandon.

We had the opportunity to spend some time in the sun, watching the events that took place all over town. We also had an opportunity to sit down with one of Casper Pride’s most visible allies, Athne Machdane. Athne, along with many other community members, have lived in Casper for years, so we wanted to sit down and find out what Pride really means to them.

The video below documents those conversations and prove, once again, why we are so proud to call Wyoming home.

Examples of what Pride means to Casper community members:

“It means my life. It means that I don’t ever have to apologize ever again for who I am, what I’ve been through or what my experience has brought me.”

“Being happy about who you are.”

“Pride is being yourself, no matter what anybody thinks.”

“Pride, to me, means that regardless of who you are, who you want to be, the abilities that you have or don’t have, or the upbringing that you had or the future you want- the entire accumulation of you is something that you hold in you and you treasure it and you work with and not against.”

“Pride means everything to me. Pride means universal freedom, human rights. It means being able to walk down the street with your hand in your lover’s hand, without being afraid of being looked at or persecuted. It means seeking equality, and until we have that, Pride will always be a thing.

“Pride is affirmation; being happy with yourself, loving your identity- who you were born, who you were meant to be. Being true to yourself.”

This was a truly landmark event and we were so unbelievably proud of the individuals and businesses, especially in The District, who helped make this a safe place for all. Casper proved, once again, that the time for change is now and the place for change is right here, in Casper and in The District.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

The Bar industry is an industry unlike any other. This is especially true of bartenders themselves. Men and women from all walks of life give up significant portions of their day to serve up Cocktails and Dreams to strangers on a nightly basis. It’s a thankless job but, as the expression goes, somebody’s gotta do it.

More often than not, bartending is a fun job, full of colorful characters and memorable experiences. Some of those experiences, however, are not exactly memorable for positive reasons.

In an industry where bartenders act as therapists, prescribing Jack Daniels instead of Xanax, things can get out of hand quickly. There’s a lot that goes on both behind and in front of the bar, and those are the stories that we, at The District want to delve into. This is Behind the Bar.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

We’ve all wanted to be a superhero at some point in our lives. Maybe it was when we were kids, wearing a towel and our mom’s rubber gloves, jumping off couches and pretending to fly. Maybe it was the first time we did something that we knew, deep in our hearts, was the right thing to do.

Maybe it was any time we had to do something really hard. Maybe tragedy struck and we had to choose whether to let it destroy and define us, or to inspire and empower us.

Regardless of the when, we’ve all dreamed up being something more, of doing something better, of finding something within ourselves that we didn’t know was there.

That is the position that Billy Batson (played with shocking vulnerability by both Asher Angel and Zachary Levi) finds himself in Shazam, a 2019 superhero movie from New Line Cinema and DC Films.

Shazam tells the story of a young orphan named Billy, who was separated from his mother at a carnival and spent the next several years trying to track her down. Unfortunately for Billy, it’s hard to find somebody that doesn’t want to be found.

After running afoul of local police, Billy finds himself in a foster home, where he meets Freddy Freeman, a fellow foster child who knows everything there is to know about Batman, Superman and the rest of the DC crew. Billy initially dismisses Freddy and his fandom, but it would eventually come in handy.

After saving Freddy from a group of bullies, Billy finds himself on a subway train that is certainly not headed for 2nd and Main. Billy is transported into another realm, where he comes face to face with Shazam- an ancient magician with all the powers in the world. He deems Billy worthy or, at least, ‘worthy enough,’ to pass on his powers, as well as his name. All Billy needed to do was say the word: ‘Shazam.’

He does, and is instantly transformed from a meek-yet-feisty kid into a full-grown adult superhero. Not knowing what just happened, Billy-turned-Shazam seeks out Freddy, hoping his new friend will help guide him on this new path.

Shazam is a comic book/superhero movie, no doubt. But it’s more than just a guy in a cape beating up bad guys. It’s about finding your own self-worth, not being afraid to rely on others and finding the hero within one’s self. More than anything, Shazam is about family.

The word family means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For Billy, he thought family was about who gave birth to him. And he spent years trying to rebuild that family and each time he failed, he felt less and less worthy of love. But then he met Freddy, along with foster parents Victor and Rosa Vasquez (Cooper Andrews and Marta Milans). He met other foster children, like Mary Bromfield (played by Grace Fulton), Darla Dudley (played by Faithe Herman), Eugene Choi (played by Ian  Chen) and Pedro Pena (played by Jovan Armand). Eventually, Billy realized that family isn’t about birthright- it’s about being there when nobody else is. Family is about love, unconditional. It’s about being a hero to the people you love.

Billy Batson was chosen to be a superhero, not because of what he could be but because of what he was. Billy was always a hero; he just needed to find that out for himself. Once he did, he was ready to take on the world. He was ready to battle bad guys and leap tall buildings in a single bound. Billy learned a lot of lessons when he took up the mantle of Shazam. But perhaps the biggest lesson was ‘family is what you make it.’ Billy found his family, and he pledged to be there for them, whenever they needed him.

All they have to do, is say the word.

 

Shazam is now playing at the Fox Movie Theater in Downtown Casper. For show time listings, ticket prices and more, visit the WyoMovies Facebook Page

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

She kept reiterating ‘customer service.’ Throughout our conversation, those were the two words we kept coming back to. It didn’t come across like a rehearsed, corporate PR line, either. Customer service is sincerely what Jennifer Trupp, General Manager of Urban Bottle Wine & Spirits, believes is the foundation of what she is trying to build.

It is, in fact, the foundation of what the entirety of Downtown Casper is trying to build, in all honesty. Every decision that is made, every brick that is laid, is done so with the desire to build a better downtown for the people of Casper.

Customer Service is the backbone of The District and, if one wants their business to be truly successful, they need to adhere to that idea as quickly as possible.

Luckily, while Trupp has only been the GM of Urban Bottle for a short time, it is already a mission statement that has been ingrained in her heart and on her mind.

Urban Bottle first opened its doors in December of 2016. In the short 3 years it has been open, Urban Bottle has proven itself to be a fixture of The District. Owners John and Lauren Griffith, along with their silent partners envisioned Urban Bottle as more than just another place to buy booze. Casper already has enough of those. What the owners of UB wanted was something that would remembered. They wanted their store to be an event, an experience. They wanted Urban Bottle to be, in their words, a “liquor store love story.”

Fast forward 3 years and that’s exactly what it has become. Urban Bottle has grown from a boutique liquor store into one of the biggest, most consistent highlights of The District and at the forefront (or storefront, as it were) of it all is Jennifer Trupp.

“I think the vision of Urban Bottle really is to see downtown thrive and to be another focal point of The District,” Trupp said. “I want it to be a place where people can just stop in, grab a bottle of wine, share it together and then be on their way to check out other places downtown.”

As a Wyoming-native with a background in marketing and sales, Trupp knows that the most important aspect of any business is, without question, customer service. The owners of Urban Bottle share that idea, and that is one of the reasons that they hired Trupp as their proverbial “face of the business.”

“The customer service side of this business was very intriguing to me,” she stated. “I think that there’s a need for that in this environment. If you look at what Urban Bottle has to offer, especially in the community and in the downtown area, the customer service side of what we have back here is so unknown.”

While Urban Bottle was originally just a liquor store that occasionally hosted wine-tastings and jazz trios, it has since grown into an operation that features tastings, concerts, catering opportunities, partnerships with other local businesses and more. On a weekly basis, customers are invited to partake in wine tastings, as well as beer and cocktail tastings. Urban Bottle has a fully-functional bar, keg and tap and Trupp encourages passersby to stop in for a drink and actually stay for a while.

“If you ask people, ‘hey, what do you know about Urban Bottle?’ they don’t realize that you can open up a bottle of wine, or that there are kegs back here, or wine on tap, cocktails on tap and more,” Trupp boasted.

Any establishment that features wine on tap is sure to be a head-turner, and that’s exactly what Urban Bottle has become. But it isn’t just their product that sets Urban Bottle apart. It is also, stick with us here, their customer service.

“When people come in, we want to make it a full experience,” Trupp reiterated. “We don’t want people to just buy their beer and leave. So we ask ourselves, ‘how do we become more knowledgeable?’ That’s why we hold wine tastings. Because the more knowledgeable we are- even not just me as the General Manager, but the employees too- the more knowledgeable we are, the better we can help our customers.”

It’s not just the relationships with customers that Trupp and her team want to continue to develop, either. They also understand how pivotal it is to build relationships with other businesses in The District.

“We’re always partnering with everyone around us,” she said. “It’s not a competition with everybody else; it’s a partnership. And that’s what makes a great downtown.”

In just 3 short years, Urban Bottle has partnered with businesses like ART 321, Racca’s Pizzeria, Grant Street Grocery, Backwards Distilling Company and more. Trupp knows that the more local businesses partner and work together, the better it is for all parties involved, especially the customers.

Almost every business owner in Downtown Casper has stated that they want The District to become a destination for tourists and locals alike. They’ve said that they want Casper to be viewed as on-par with bigger cities in neighboring Fort Collins or South Dakota. Trupp is no different.

“I would like to see [downtown] as another form of Fort Collins,” she said. “I would like to see the city pass the idea of having a veranda out here so that people would be able to have a glass of wine outside on the sidewalk. That’s how it should be. I would like to see downtown full of people just walking around, shopping and enjoying their surroundings. That’s how it should be.”

That is how it should be. And it’s what it could be, as well. So many people in Downtown Casper are passionate about their business, about their city and about their people. Urban Bottle is but one of the many stories that are being written in The District. But this one is a different kind of story. It’s a love story, actually. And it’s that love for their city, their downtown and, most importantly, their customers that will determine Urban Bottle’s success moving forward. Luckily, for the owners, for the customers and for the store itself, it seems to be in good hands.

 

Urban Bottle is located at 410 S. Ash Street in Casper, WY 82601. They are open Monday-Saturday, 10am-10pm and Sunday, 11am-4pm. For more information, visit their website, check out their Facebook Page or give them a call at 307-333-6424.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

“What have I become, my sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away in the end
And you could have it all; my empire of dirt
I will let you down; I will make you hurt”
– Johnny Cash

 

 

“I came in alone; that’s how I’ll leave
I lost a lot of blood, but there’s enough still left to bleed
A tentative angel; that’s why my wings are singed
I don’t need forgiveness now and I don’t want to be avenged.”
– Thomas Gabriel

 

Photo Credit: Diane Sterk

The fact that he could dream at all while sleeping on the cold, hard, unforgiving cot in his 7×12’ cell was astonishing enough. Even more astonishing was how real that dream felt. In fact, in the early hours of the morning, before the lights were turned on, before the shouting started, before he shook away the grogginess to face they day before him, he wasn’t sure if it was a dream or a memory.

In the dream/memory, his grandfather called him on the telephone.

“You can’t do this forever,” he said.

“I know,” the man replied.

“So what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about you?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

“Well,” his grandfather said, “I want you to come over and talk to me. There’s something that I need to say and you need to hear.”

But before he could get there, before he could see his grandfather a final time, he started to wake up.

“No, no, no,” he pleaded. “Let me stay just a little bit longer.”

But he couldn’t, not this time anyway. The dream ended, his reality came rushing back to him and he woke up in his cell, alone.

Thomas Gabriel knows all about prisons. As a former police officer and an ex-con, Gabriel has been on both sides of the bars. More than that, though, for years Thomas was a prisoner of his own mind and his own heart.

And who could blame him? As the grandson of the legendary Johnny Cash, Gabriel has had to live up to other people’s expectations his whole life. Often, he failed to meet those expectations, like most of us are wont to do. But most of us don’t have a grandfather whom people refer to as “The Man in Black.” Most of us don’t have a legacy to live up to. Most of us aren’t born into a family dynasty, predicated on a proverbial ‘Ring of Fire.’ Gabriel has spent his life dancing through the flames of his family name. Sometimes he got burned. Other times, he burned somebody else. All too often, his life went up in smoke. But he never stopped fighting for it.

Gabriel is a fighter. He has been his whole life. But it was a different kind of battle, the battle within, that he spent years fighting and almost lost. Except, he didn’t lose.  He survived. He kept fighting. When ‘The Man’ came around, Gabriel told him to go back from whence he came. He’s stubborn, that’s all. Just like his grandfather was.

Gabriel shares many similarities with his late grandfather, including his singing voice. When Thomas Gabriel sings, if you close your eyes at just the right moment, you’d swear the year was 1965 and Cash himself had just taken the stage. But it was not just a similar voice and a rebel yell that he shared with his grandfather. Gabriel, like Johnny before him, was also a tortured soul who used his music as an escape, when the drugs would no longer suffice.

When Gabriel was a teenager, he got involved with a variety of narcotics. It wasn’t his first love, but it was certainly his only love for many years. Music always had a place in Gabriel’s head and heart, but it took a backseat to addiction.

“From the age of 11 to 18 or 19, I played [guitar] quite a bit,” Gabriel said. “I was in some bands, but after that, I got into police work. Then I went to prison and whatever else and I didn’t see a guitar for a long time.”

The prison sentence came after a string of assault charges. Gabriel makes no excuses for his behavior, but does note that his drug-use had also gotten out of control.

“I was a police officer and I had gotten to a point where morality had gone out the window and I was basically just callous to a bunch of things,” Gabriel stated. “I was a violent person. I had a drinking problem. I had a drug problem. I was a cop driving around, taking amphetamines at night to try and stay awake and, during the day, I was taking pills to try and go to sleep.”

He continued, stating that he “got to the point where it was just out of control. Mentally, emotionally, I was a wreck, just completely bankrupt.”

It got so bad that Gabriel had planned to seclude himself in a Motel 6 with his sweetest friends- drugs, alcohol, his motorcycles and a broken heart. There, he would wait for a pale horse to take him away, into the unknown.

But then, something happened.

“Out of nowhere, the phone rings” he remembered. “Not my cell phone. The phone in my room. I thought it was probably the guy at the front desk telling me to get my bike out of the room. But it was my mom. She said ‘there’s a man that wants to talk to you.’”

Gabriel admitted that when certain people found out he was Johnny Cash’s grandson, they would try to take advantage of him. They would come into his life, with their hands out, asking for anything that he could give. That’s how it usually was when strangers reached out to Thomas.

But this time was different. Somebody was definitely sticking out their hand, but, this time, it was for Gabriel to grab a hold of.

“My mom ended up calling back and saying the same thing and I hung up on her again,” he said. “Then, an hour or two goes by and the phone rings again and it’s this guy.”

That guy was a man named Brian Oxley, a fan of Johnny Cash’s music who recently purchased Cash’s former farm in Bon Aqua, Tennessee. Oxley had been researching Cash and his family and he read that Gabriel was struggling, so he reached out.

“All he said was ‘Hi, this is Brian. I think you’re going to die,’” Gabriel remembered. “That got my attention real quick. He told me that all he wanted to do was meet up and talk. So we did.

During the course of that conversation, Oxley asked if Gabriel would go to a rehab clinic, if he were to send him.

“What Brian didn’t know,” Gabriel said, “was that I’d already been [to rehab], 21 times. But I thought, a month to dry out, eat a bunch of food, hang out and not have any responsibilities once again? Sure, I’ll do that. So I agreed to go. He paid for it and sent me there.”

It was anything but a vacation, however.

During his 22nd stint in a rehab clinic, Gabriel began facing all of the issues and emotions he had spent so long trying to bury. Still, those feelings are tough to face head-on, which is why self-medicating is such a prevalent solution for many people.

“About a week before I got out, I made up my mind that once I left I was going to do what I usually do,” he admitted.  “But then Brian talked to me again and said ‘I’d like you to try something else, more of a long-term thing.’

I fought him hard on that. But I ended up going. And I ended up not only going, but also working there. I became a counselor and did that for a while before coming back to the music thing.”

Gabriel was good at his job as a counselor. Most recovering addicts are, because they know how hard the battle to save one’s self really is. But it wasn’t his calling, it wasn’t his passion, it wasn’t his song.

Photo Credit: Steve Sutton

It was always going to be music. From the time he was a kid, he displayed talent. He had been singing, as he put it, “since day one.” In 1995, he even recorded an EP in his grandfather’s studio.

“I took it to him and apparently he thought it was good too, but he told me to stop,” Gabriel said. “He wanted me to become a cop. It was his idea, not mine. I would have never made that decision on my own. I was the one who was always getting into trouble. But he did say, ‘come back to it.’”

Thomas Gabriel finally did come back to it. Three years ago, Gabriel started singing, writing and touring. In doing so, he realized that his voice sounded “eerily similar” to that of his grandfather’s. It would have been easy to get by and make a few bucks as “the grandson of Johnny Cash.” But that’s not what Gabriel wanted. He wanted to make his own name and share his own story. In fact, Gabriel only plays a handful of his grandfather’s songs and it’s not definitely not for monetary purposes.

“There are two reasons why I do his songs,” he detailed. “One, it makes me closer to him. It really does. I feel closer to him now than I did when he was alive. [The second reason is because] people miss him. I miss him. It just so happens that I have a similar voice so I’m able to keep his voice alive. I don’t do it to walk in his footsteps, because I never could. Nobody could. He was an old soul- very wise and an extremely deep person.”

Gabriel doesn’t give himself enough credit. He, too, is an old soul. He’s less interested in being a “rock star” and more interested in connecting with people.

He prefers to play smaller stages, like the one at The Gaslight Social. Gabriel played a show there on Friday, May 2nd 2019 and audiences expecting merely “a good time” were given something completely different.

“I have no interest in entertaining,” Gabriel admitted. “What I have an interest in is getting a message across, whether it’s to one person or five people. I want the audience to say ‘I can relate to that.’ I have guys that just got out of prison, or that are strung out or whatever and they say ‘that touched me.’ That makes everything worth it. That’s what I want to portray. That’s what I want to get across. I want it to be real, which is why I don’t put up a lot of smoke and mirrors.”

Gabriel had been living a life of smoke and mirrors for years. But the smoke was starting to fade and he was finally able to actually start looking at himself in those mirrors, long-thought broken.

Now, his reflection doesn’t make him wince. He sees the man he has become and he’s proud of the man he continues to be. He knows he couldn’t have made it, but for the grace of God and his family.

That grace led him to a stage that held an especially sacred place in his heart, Folsom Prison. It was there that his grandfather recorded his infamous ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ record. It was recorded live, in front of the inmates of Folsom State Prison in Represa, California.

50 years later, Gabriel himself performed for the inmates. While playing some of his own songs, as well as those of his grandfather’s, Gabriel reflected on his life behind those very same bars. The location was different, but it always looked the same. Thomas Gabriel isolated himself for much of his life but now he lives for connection. And he felt no greater connection, perhaps, than when he was playing the same ‘stage’ that his grandfather did, all those years ago.

“I love connection,” Gabriel said. “Every show we’ve got, we make a connection. I’ve made more friends on these tours than I’ve ever had in my life. Coming from a 7×12’ cell, where nobody even knew I was alive, to being able to travel around the country and connect with people, it’s amazing. I feel like I’m picking up where, at one point, I left off.”

“I’m doing what I should have been doing the whole time.”

 

After playing the legendary Folsom State Prison stage, Thomas Gabriel was exhausted. When he got back to the hotel, a hotel not unlike the one he had almost ended his life in, Gabriel collapsed onto his bed and fell asleep almost instantly. And, after countless nights of trying, he finally came face-to-face, one last time, with his grandfather.

“There’s something I need to say and you need to hear,” Johnny Cash told his grandson.

Thomas glanced up at his grandfather, relieved that he could finally look him in the eyes.

“I made a lot of mistakes in my life, son,” Johnny started. “And one day, I’ll have to atone for that. I just hope that maybe my music, my story, my songs did a little bit of good for the people who heard them. But in the end, the greatest thing I ever did was create this family. You, your mama, your sisters, June, all of you…you’re the greatest song I ever wrote. Now, go out there, and write something better.”  

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

It was a rainy Thursday on May 2nd, 2019. While clouds were teeming with precipitation, various crowds in The District were shivering with anticipation. That’s because Thursday was the first Casper Art Walk of the 2019 season and, boy, did it deliver.

Crowds gathered all across Downtown Casper, taking in everything The District had to offer.

Whether it was a restaurant, a bar or The Science Zone, all of the best businesses in Downtown Casper came together to start the 2019 Art Walk Season off right.

Local musicians performed at businesses like Urban Bottle, restaurants like Racca’s and coffee shops like Metro. Urban Bottle hosted the Ron Coulter Trio, who served up solid jazz licks while patrons sampled various types of on-tap wine, beers and cocktails.

Quinlan Valdez brought his talents to Racca’s Pizzeria, while Sean Peverly rocked Metro with some acoustic tunes to accompany the incredible hot and cold drinks Metro serves up on a daily basis.

ART 321, one of the sponsors of The Art Walk,  started the season in Scottish style, hosting their May Exhibit and featuring bag pipes! If you’ve never heard bagpipes before, or even if you have, this was a sight and a sound to behold. Other sights to behold at ART 321 included a watercolor show and a collection of flower-themed art pieces. ART 321 is also “paving the way” (heh) for the Keep Casper Beautiful Art Project- an endeavor designed to use art as a way to promote a greener Casper.

The Office Bar & Grill, one of The District’s major sponsor’s, had a bevy of beverages and entertainment and the used the Art Walk as a platform to promote Singo Bingo, one of the most fun, immersive games that can be found in The District.

 

The Gaslight Social hosted a WyoGenerosity auction that certainly brought in a crowd that wanted to have a good time for a good cause.

All of these things and more took place during The Art Walk, despite the gloominess of Mother Nature. While this was the official start of Art Walk season, there are no doubts that once June hits, the sun will be out; as will even more people who want to experience all that The District has to offer. The May Art Walk was a blast but it’s safe to say one thing:

The best is yet to come.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

“Well, you can’t cook and your sister is hotter!” you yell into your cellphone. And then you press the ‘End’ button super aggressively because you can’t slam phones anymore.

With that, your relationship is now over. The signs had been there for a while; you should have noticed them. She didn’t look at you the same anymore. Her calls became less and less frequent. And also, she cheated on you whilst on vacation in Punta Cana. That’s a sign you probably should have noticed.

Regardless, it’s over now and it’s time to move on to bigger (boobs) and better things. So, take a deep breath, have a good cry and gather yourself together, because you are single and The District is the perfect place to mingle.

That being said, it’s also a very small area in a very small town. People talk. So to save you from any potentially embarrassing scenarios, we’ve compiled a list of the best and worst things you could possibly do when looking for a date in Downtown Casper.

These are the Dos and Don’ts of Dating in The District.

The Office Bar & Grill

 

Do: Take a date to Karaoke Night or Singo Bingo at The Office.

Don’t: Sing Tainted Love during Karaoke because “it reminds me of my ex.”

Metro Coffee Co.

 

Do: Order a delicious hot or cold beverage and listen to one of the many local musicians that play the Metro stage.  Also tip your barista.

Don’t: Try to get some PG-13 rated action on one of the many comfortable couches. They’re there for reading, writing and talking. Not for under-the-shirt-over-the-bra stuff.

C85 Branding Iron

 

Do: Treat her to the best burgers in Casper, with some of the best servers in town.

Don’t: Tell her who owns it.

Yellowstone Garage

 

Do: Go to Rock the Block every Thursday this summer for food, live music, dancing and drinks!

Don’t: Block the…well…you know. If you’re with a girl and she seems more interested in somebody else, just let her go. Hey. HEY! *whispers* Just let her go, man.

David Street Station

 

Do: Enjoy a picnic, a concert or Summer Movie Night every week throughout the summer.

Don’t: Let people make you feel weird just because you’re at a kid’s movie but don’t actually have kids.

Frosted Tops

Do: Buy her a cupcake.

Don’t: Call her ‘cupcake.’

Frosty’s Bar & Grill

 

Do: Get her a shot at Casper’s best dive-bar.

Don’t: Get her shot at Casper’s best dive-bar. It’s kind of a tough crowd, ya know? And the regulars don’t take kindly to Prada-wearing, Snapchatting prima donnas. So don’t bring her to Frosty’s if she sucks.

(Just kidding. Frosty’s accepts everybody)

Wyoming Camera Outfitters

Do: Take a photography class together, taught by one of the great WCO employees, using various equipment from Canon, Tamron and more.

Don’t: Send her a dick pic.

The Gaslight Social

Do: Buy her a drink, buy her food, dance with her and play and defeat her in classic arcade games like Pac-Man, Mario Kart and more.

Don’t: Think that actually entitles you to anything.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

There’s something different about Casper lately. Maybe it started with the Eclipse Festival. Or maybe it started with the David Street Station. It could have started with the Art Walk or Rock the Block. Regardless of the ‘where’ and the ‘when,’ the fact is that something is happening to our little piece of the world.

And it’s awesome.

Take, for instance, 5150 Restaurant Week. This is a week-long glimpse into the best food and drink that Casper has to offer. Over 30 restaurants, bars, breweries and coffee shops are participating in this city-wide celebration, sponsored and produced by 5150 Local, an organization designed to show how special our city really is.

I recently sat down with (and by that, I mean Emailed) Amanda Scherlin, the marketing director for Visit Casper and one of the visionaries behind 5150 Local.

She explained who and what 5150 was, as well as the concept behind ‘Restaurant Week.’ She also answered a host of other questions as well, all of which provided an excellent glimpse into who 5150 is and what they’re trying to accomplish.

My original plan was to write an entire story based on her comments, but my Journalism professor once told me to ‘omit needless words.’ Quite frankly, all of my words for this article would be mostly needless, because Amanda did such a phenomenal job answering my questions. It worked out, because time that I would have spent writing about restaurants is now time that can be spent actually being inside of one.

Who even are you?

 Amanda Scherlin, Marketing Manager at Visit Casper

What is 5150′ Local? 

5150’ Local is a community brand for Casper by Casper.

 Wyoming locals have always been super proud to call the Cowboy State home and Casper is no exception. As we looked around, there were a lot of fun brands celebrating Wyoming as a whole, or other communities around the state, but none were all about Casper. And we know that there is a lot to love here, so we are creating a space to celebrate that.

 Right now, we have a blog, an Instagram and a Facebook page for locals to connect online. And every now and then we facilitate events like 5150’ Restaurant Week that bring people together offline in fun way just for the sake of being together.

 Oh, and 5150’ is Casper’s official elevation.

 What is 5150′ trying to accomplish? 

 We are simply creating a space for our community to celebrate all the things that make Casper a great place to call home.  Locals know that Casper is a special community—from the generosity of our neighbors to the landscapes and places we live. We want the people who love where they live to share that love with others. We’re having fun together and telling stories that remind us of all the obvious (and not so obvious reasons) we love it here.

 What is 5150′ Restaurant Week? 

5150’ Restaurant Week is a week-long celebration of Casper’s ever-growing culinary scene. We have nearly 200 truly amazing local restaurants, breweries, tasting rooms, bakeries and coffee spots that create unique spaces and experiences for the Casper community that are worth making a big deal about. April 1-7 people can visit the participating restaurants to get special menu items at exceptional prices.

 What is the purpose of 5150′ Restaurant Week? 

The purpose of 5150’ Restaurant Week is to get the community out and dining in our local establishments. Supporting local businesses is obviously great for our town and it means that more businesses can thrive and create these unique spaces and experiences. We’re encouraging Casper-ites to try a new local business or take advantage of the fun prices at an old favorite spot.

 Who and how many are participating? 

 34 restaurants of all kinds from all corners of Casper are participating. You can see the full list here.

 What are the ideas behind the prices? 

We tried to create price points that were fun, easy to remember, and (of course) local. The price points are $3.07, $18.90 and $51.50.

 307 is well known as our statewide area code, 1890 is the year that Wyoming became a state and 5150’ is Casper’s elevation.

Why do you believe so many restaurants wanted to participate? 

As far as we know, 5150’ Restaurant Week is the first event of its kind here in Casper and everyone has been really excited about it. I think it’s a simple and fun event that will hopefully entice people to skip cooking dinner or making their morning coffee at home this week and patronize their local establishments instead.

 What are your thoughts on the development of downtown Casper and events such as the Art Walk, Rock the block, etc.? 

I think that the development and new events downtown have been incredible for the entire community. It is great for the town to have a hub to gather and connect with each other and the place they live.

Why do you think people are so engaged with community activities recently? 

I think that Casper-ites are generally very supportive of the things others are doing. Casper loves Casper, and when there are so many great events and activities to be engaged with, people show up in support.

 What do you want 5150 to do in the future? Goals? 

We want to continue to evolve into a great outlet for Casper to show their love of the place they call home.

That sounds good enough for us. Get out and spend some time in all of the unique places that make Casper Casper. Go beyond The District and remind yourself, and others, why you choose to make Wyoming ‘Wy(home)ing.’

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

“The greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.”
— 
Charles Caleb Colton

April Fool’s Day is upon us and with that comes opportunity. This is an opportunity that stretches far beyond the reaches of The District. It is transcendental. April Fools Day is an underrated holiday. It doesn’t have the same festiveness as Halloween or Christmas. It doesn’t give us an excuse to drink copious amounts of alcohol like Saint Patrick’s Day does. It isn’t the birth of our independence or the chance to show our person how much we love them by purchasing extravagant gifts. But April Fools Day is an important holiday, nonetheless. It is a celebration of the fools among us. It is an excuse to be silly, to play, to laugh. It is an opportunity and it is not one that we take lightly.

With that, here is a list of various Do’s and Don’ts for April Fool’s Day Pranks. Some include businesses in The District. Others you can do at your very own home. Just be safe, be creative and remember that sometimes it’s okay to play the fool.

#1) April Fool’s Day Do- Putting Saran Wrap under the toilet seat in your bathroom.

This is an oldie but a goodie, but the true classics never go out of style. To achieve this prank, simply lift your toilet seats and lay down the wrap. You want to make sure that you don’t have to much or too little, as it would make it too visible. You also want to make sure that you stretch it as far as it can stretch, so that it doesn’t crumble under the weight of…well…you get the picture. Once the Saran is wrapped, put the toilet seat down and wait for the fun to start!

Of course, this prank will only work if you actually live with other people. We suppose you could try to use it with your cat’s littler box, but that’s kind of less funny, more sad.

April Fool’s Day Don’t- Putting Saran Wrap under the toilet seat in The Gaslight Social’s bathroom

There is a time and a place for potty humor. The bathroom of a bar has neither of these. What’s funny at home is not always funny in public. And while tricking your roommate or spouse into peeing on themselves is HILARIOUS, tricking unsuspecting patrons into doing it is a recipe for disaster. Especially because said patrons may or may not be under the influence of alcohol, which could potentially mean they don’t even notice where they’re peeing or what they’re peeing on. This means they won’t clean it up. This means one of your favorite staff from The Gaslight will have to do it. This means you’re a dick.

#2) April Fool’s Day Do- This.

April Fool’s Day Don’t- This anywhere but at home.

The above prank is hilarious. Jimmy Kimmel is the king of pranks and his “I did nothing to your coffee prank” is the perfect gag to play on your neurotic friends. But please, we beg of you- don’t do it at Metro Coffee Co. or Crescent Moon Coffee shop. The owners and baristas at both of those places work very hard at creating delicious drinks. Whether it’s a Foggy London from Metro or Heaven In A Cup from Crescent moon, their specialty coffee drinks make mouths water…so please don’t ruin it. Tricking your friends into thinking you did something to their coffee is one thing. Tricking aloof customers who NEED their coffee in the morning…or afternoon…or evening…is an entirely different matter. Speaking of, mind over matter may be a “thing,” but we promise that if you mess with a stranger’s coffee, you will get punched in the face. And in the end, that’s really all that matters.

#3) April Fool’s Day Do- Putting an airbag under a chair at your office

April 1st is the perfect opportunity to passive aggressively get back at Bradley (not Brad…Bradley…yeah, he sucks) for all of his corporate butt-kissing. This opportunity can present itself in a variety of ways, but the most fun way is to set up an airbag under his office chair. While actually pulling off this feat is a bit difficult, and possibly illegal, it is sure to cause hilarity to ensue. If you plan it right, the entire office should be there to celebrate his humility and make him rue the day that he ever took your lunch out of the staff fridge EVEN THOUGH IT WAS CLEARLY MARKED AS YOURS…wait, what? No, we’re not projecting. But Bradley’s chair sure will be!

Suck it, Brad.

April Fool’s Day Don’t- Putting an airbag under a chair at The Office

Okay so. This is probably the funniest prank one could pull. And it’s funny when it happens to anybody, not just people who deserve it. Like Bradley. Sigh. Bradley. It’s a funny prank but we don’t recommend trying to pull it off at The Office Bar & Grill. First of all, they use mostly stools and benches so it wouldn’t really work anyway and you’d look like a total doofus. B, The Office is a place for fun and laughter but not at other people’s expense. Okay, sometimes it’s at other people’s expense. They do offer karaoke every Friday and Saturday night, for instance. But those people know what they’re getting into. They’re willing participants and they’re more or less in on the joke. Somebody who would not be in on the joke, and would not react positively, is Bruno. Do you really want Bruno to sit on a hypothetical chair and be thrust into the air and behind the bar? The answer is no, you don’t. Because then Bruno will get up, dust himself off, take a shot of the many delicious alcohols that The Office offers and he will then pummel you until you call him daddy. No, no. The better idea is to play the joke on Bradley, and then invite the rest of your office out with you to The Office for celebratory drinks. You can even invite Bradley. Maybe buy him the 1st round to show that you are the bigger person.

But then when he’s not looking, put salt in his drink. This IS April Fool’s Day, after all.

Those are just a few ways to celebrate April Fool’s Day. Like we said, with this holiday comes an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to forget about being a grownup for a little bit. It’s an opportunity to laugh at yourself and others as you play jokes on each other. It’s a chance to be a kid again, which is something none of us should pass up. Being a grownup is scary and any time we read the news or check our Twitter feed, it seems like we’re living in a perpetual April Fool’s Day. So take a day to laugh, to play, to be a kid again. Just remember that there are some things you should do on April Fool’s Day…and some things you shouldn’t.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

It was the 4th quarter of the big game. Roosevelt High School was battling Ballard High on the gridiron and, for one young man we’ll call Brad, it was the most important game of his life. He was the quarterback for Roosevelt and he intended to put on the best game his town had ever seen. Most importantly, he wanted to impress the young girl who was sitting in the stands. She was the love of his life and he wanted nothing more than to impress her.

Knowing she would be cheering him on, Brad called the first play. He was too busy, too focused to glance towards the bleachers, but he knew she would be there, smiling and laughing and proudly claiming that the quarterback was her boyfriend.

As the game progressed, Brad gave it everything he had. With only 10 seconds left in the game, Roosevelt was down by just 3 points. And they had the ball. Brad knew this was his moment. As he yelled ‘hike!’ he knew that this moment would solidify his future and, probably, his relationship with the young girl in the stands.

It was over in a flash. Brad threw the ball, it was caught and ran into the end zone. Roosevelt had won and Brad felt like a million bucks. He glanced towards the stands, eager to see the smiling face of his future-wife.

But she wasn’t there. She was in the school hallway, watching two aspiring rap artists battling each other. She fell head-over-heels for both of them.

Suck it, Brad.

For Tom Pepe and Tom Wilson, AKA the ‘KnowMads,’ high school wasn’t the be-all, end-all it was for many of their peers. For the KnowMads, high school was just a stage that you had to do math on sometimes.

The Seattle-born rap duo first became aware of each other in their early teen years. Though they attended different high schools, both had heard about the other thanks to common friends and a mutual love/respect for hip hop.

Pepe described Wilson as a ‘psychopath’ when they first met, due to Wilson’s extreme talent. While he may have been ‘tripped out’ by Wilson, he wasn’t intimidated. Pepe had already competed in a number of freestyle rap battles and he had proven himself to be a worthy challenger. In fact, Pepe actually won a city-wide rap battle when he was 16 years old.

“It was sponsored by this community center,” Pepe remembered. “In some ways, it was kind of corny, but they got one person from every high school and, at the end of the day, you won $500. And I won. That was huge for me.”

Wilson was actually a part of the competition as well, but said he was disqualified for cursing.

Wilson, at the age of 16, was already a veteran of the local hip hop scene. He found hip hop at a very young age and, he said, it was the best form music therapy he could get.

“I would say it always was an outlet, just like the way sports are for a lot of kids,” Wilson stated. “I played tons of sports growing up too but nothing felt as organic and natural as hip hop. To be honest with you, I started so young that I barely even remember it. I grew up learning piano at a really, really young age. My mom would pay for lessons. Then, all of a sudden, I would get bored with it. I’d wanna learn how to play drums, and the exact same thing would happen. I would get bored with it and want to learn guitar. Then I’d get bored with that and finally settled on hip hop at like, 7 years old.”

Most 7-year-olds look up to Batman or Superman or the Power Rangers. Wilson said he was inspired by Run DMC, NWA and Public Enemy. He said he doesn’t remember the exact moment that rap became his outlet, but he knows he was very young.

“I can’t even really remember what started it,” Wilson said. “I think it was just like that feeling that hip hop gives everybody when they partake in it in any form. I’ve got home videos of [myself] from like, 1997 of me at my neighbor’s house kickin’ rhymes while he’s playing drums.”

It was a passion that started early and never really went away. But Wilson said he didn’t start to get really serious as an artist until he collaborated with Pepe and their mutual friend, Jesse.

Pepe also started rapping at a young age. In addition to the aforementioned community center battles, he also competed in a number of open mics and parking lot battles.

“I started when I was 11,” he remembered. “I would go to these summer camps and they would have, like, open mics or whatever and I had this ridiculous idea that I could rap.”

That ridiculous idea led to a whole career. Pepe and Wilson eventually formed a mutual respect for each other, followed by a friendship. It was Wilson who first asked Pepe if he wanted to record in his studio.

“When he said ‘the studio,’ what he really meant was his parents’ house,” Pepe laughed.

“In my room, I built my own little sanctuary,” Wilson retorted. “We didn’t really form a group for a couple years, but that was somewhere that we could go and record and as soon as we started recording, we were professionals,” Wilson said with a slight smirk on his face.

Wilson may or may not have been joking, but the two Toms can certainly be considered ‘professionals’ now. Even as 20-something’s, the two could call themselves veterans of the hip hop scene. They’ve been performing for more than 12 years. They’ve toured across America, played in Mexico City, opened for Macklemore and, ahem, more. And they’ve done so without the aid of a label. While the KnowMads would certainly appreciate the exposure that signing with a major label could bring them, that’s not the biggest priority for them. They don’t want to just be rich or famous. The KnowMads want to make music that speaks to people.

“It’s amazing that we have these diehard fans who are willing to bring us out to these places to do these shows,” Wilson said. “Some people actually credit us as their favorite artist, and that’s amazing. At the same time, it would be amazing to do 40 cities, opening for Brother Ali or Atmosphere or somebody like that because we thrive on that willingness to prove ourselves. I love performing for people who’ve never heard us before.”

Though getting on that fabled ‘next-level’ is always in the periphery of the KnowMads, that isn’t what they’re solely focused on. They focus on the things they can control, which is making the best music they can.

“All you can do is your best,” Pepe stated. “That’s why we decided we’re just going to focus on what we can do. We’re gonna focus on the music and giving our all and then, hopefully, things will work out on the other side as well.”

Undoubtedly, things will work out for the Tom’s. Their talent and work ethic are top-notch and, most importantly, they know who their audience is and they know what their fans are struggling with because, chances are, they’ve struggled with some of the same stuff.

Wilson, for example, spent some time doing ‘sales’ work that wasn’t entirely ‘legal.’ But he realized, pretty quickly, that it was a road that lead to nowhere.

“I’ve worked dead end jobs before and I’ve felt stuck, and that’s a horrible feeling,” Wilson admitted. “But, I’d rather be broke and have my freedom than be rich and in jail.”

Pepe, similarly, struggled with a variety of issues throughout his life and career.

“I think in the process of trying to make it as rap artists, I’ve definitely lost myself at certain points,” he revealed. “I was pretty deep into drugs for a while and that not only swallowed up my ability to make art, but also my ability to just be myself, my true self.”

Pepe continued, saying that he “knew who I was pretty young, but it’s something that you have to nurture. If you let yourself get swallowed up by trying to be cool or trying to be hard or trying to do this or that, you’re gonna probably lose sight of the things you really care about.”

The KnowMads care about a lot of things. They care about their fans, their friends and their family. They care about each other. That care, that love, that truth reveals itself in every one of their songs. And that’s why they’ve built the following that they have. The KnowMads aren’t just making catchy tunes. They’re saying real things that, hopefully, will speak to people.

Wilson said that “everybody’s going through different stuff and if our music, in some capacity can, not just help you with it, but show that you’re not alone, and just bring you some piece of joy or some piece of clarity, that’s all we’re really trying to do. “

The KnowMads, Tom Pepe and Tom Wilson, don’t just want to be ‘famous.’ They don’t want a million followers or a thousand Retweets. Fame would be awesome, but it’s secondary to what they’re actually trying to accomplish, which is giving people a chance to listen to their songs and, hopefully, see a little bit of their own lives reflected in those songs.

If you’ve never heard our music, look us up on Spotify or search us on Google,” Pepe said. “And the reason I say that, instead of [following us on] social media, is because you can’t listen to our music on Facebook. You can’t listen to our music on Instagram. If you wanna follow us there, great. But in the end, even after we’re dead, our goal was always to just get people listening to our art. It gives life to our art. So if you’re listening to our music somewhere, that is what means the most.”

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Saint Patrick was a missionary and bishop in Ireland during the 5th century. Born in AD 385, Patrick knew that he was destined for great things. When he was sixteen years old, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish Raiders and taken into slavery. According to The Declaration (not of Independence- that came later- this was more of an autobiography-type-thing that Saint P wrote himself), God told Patrick to flee to the coast (because even back then, everybody wanted to live “on the coast), where a ship would be waiting to take him back home. According to legend, that’s exactly what happened. When “P” got back home, he became a priest and allegedly led “thousands” of his countrymen (and women) to Christ. More importantly than eternal salvation, however, was the fact that Saint Patrick and his titular day allow us all to feel a little less guilty about drinking all of the alcohols.

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian Holiday in the early 17th Century. It takes place on March 17th, the day Saint Patrick died, and it was originally recognized as a Christian Feast day. This meant that Lenten Restrictions (think Prohibition) on eating and drinking were lifted for the day; which signified just one thing- it was bout to get silly, y’all!

We like to think that if ole Saint P was around today, he would choose to spend his proverbial “day” in The District. Luckily for him, and for you, The District has a plethora of options available for The Feast of Saint Patrick.

Such as:

“Afternoon on the Green” at David Street Station

Don’t let modern myth fool you; Saint Patrick’s Day was not originally intended as a day to just merely wear green and drink until you puked it. No, his day was a feast! It was a festival. It was a celebration. It had parades and activities (so many activities!) and food and yes, it had drink, too. That was what Saint Patrick’s Day was originally intended as, and it is that spirit that the David Street Station is channeling with their “Afternoon on the Green.”

On Saturday, March 16th from 12pm-3pm, David Street Station will be hosting a celebration that would make 17th century Irish-Catholics proud. There will be corned beef, cabbage and green beer provided by the C85 Wonder Bar. There will also be a wide-variety of kids’ activities, photo booth opportunities and more. Music will be provided by the Casper Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums. A performance by Richens Timm Irish Dance is sure to impress as well. This is the perfect way to start Saint Patrick’s Day off right, the way it’s supposed to be celebrated- with food, friends, family…and beer.

This even should be followed by a short Siesta (not Irish, we know. But naps are bae) and then hire a babysitter for the evening, because it’s time for the grownup portion of this Celtic holiday.

Starting with…

The Saint Paddy’s Pub Crawl

The Casper Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums are keeping the spirit of St. Patrick alive as they present their Annual Saint Paddy’s Pub Crawl on Saturday, March 16 from 1pm-10pm. The David Street Station is the first stop of the crawl, and it begins right after but probably actually during THEIR Annual ‘Afternoon on the Green’ family St. Patrick’s celebration. Beginning at 1pm, crowds will be pressing their luck at a variety of stops, including Skull Tree Brewing, Gruner Bros. Brewing, Frontier Brewing and more! This is a day-long party, so make sure you have a ride to all these excellent venues that are sure to be offering green beer and drink specials all day/night long!

The Gaslight Social

Did you really think there would be a St. Patrick’s Day without The Gaslight Social? It’s owned by somebody named ‘Galloway,’ for cryin’ out loud! Saints preserve us! Not only is Gaslight celebrating Saint Patrick’s very own Day, they’re doing it in the dark! But don’t worry. You’ll glow.

Following the city-wide Pub Crawl, join fellow sinners and saints alike for the pub crawl after party, beginning at 2pm. But that’s not all! At 8pm, The Gaslight will be putting on a Glow in the Dark Party. Wear your best bling and get ready to rock with Irish punk and rock music playing all day. There will be plenty of drink and shot specials to go around, as well as the usual-but-always-delicious corned beef and cabbage. They will also have Jameson, green beer, Guinness, Irish Stout and more on tap! As if that’s not enough of a reason to party with Patty at the Gaslight, there will be prizes and giveaways as well. Basically, if you’re not partying with The Gaslight, you’re not really partying at all. Patrick expects more of you.

If you only go to one spot this Saint Patty’s Day, make sure it’s The Gaslight Social.

…No but, like, don’t. You should go to all of these places.

Especially…

The Office Bar and Grill

Not to stereotype, but Irish people are known to do two things better than all others- drink and sing (But seriously, the Irish are a lovely people who are gifted in many things).

Luckily, you are able to do both of these things at The Office Bar and Grill. Nothing goes better with Jameson than Karaoke, so hold onto your butts, boyos, because The Office is offering Saint Patrick’s Day karaoke! Like their contemporaries, The Office will be serving up green beer, corned beef, cabbage, and various Irish-themed liquors all night. There will be numerous drink specials and giveaways but the real attraction is being able to sing Galway Girl with your buds in front of an audience. Nobody will look as good as Gerard Butler whilst doing it, but give it a try m’boy. Try to make the lasses swoon.

The Office should most definitely be at the top of your priority list on Saint Patrick’s Day, because what is an Irish holiday without an Irish drinking song?

But also…

Frosty’s Bar & Grill

Frosty’s. There is always Frosty’s. This dive bar will be offering drink specials, corned beef, cabbage (you are literally going to be pooping green after this day) giveaways, prizes and more all weekend. Frosty’s is the bar that your Irish uncle would be getting into fights at (seriously, there is no higher praise than that) so make sure that you stop by Frosty’s Bar and Grill at some point during your celebrations. Doing anything other than that would be, well, incorrigible.

Needless to say, there is a wealth of options for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in The District. There is music, dancing, food, drink and, most importantly, friends and family. When Saint Patrick was a young man, he knew he was destined to do great things. Not even he knew, however, that he would ever be capable of being the reason that you get to pinch your friends for no reason.

Come celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in The District…because we put the Patrón in Patron Saints.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Let’s talk about heroes for a moment, shall we? We live in an age where being a fan of superheroes is no longer looked down upon or made fun of. In fact, superhero movies have proven themselves to be box office juggernauts. People have paid and will continue to pay a lot of money to see their heroes on the big screen.

Because of this, it would be easy for filmmakers to rely solely upon the name value of certain heroes to sell tickets. In regards to Marvel Studios, it would be easy for them to release a mediocre movie, especially an animated one, based on name value and nostalgia. People would still buy tickets- that’s how much power Marvel has at the box office.

But, as a wise man once said (stick with us here), “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Marvel knows the responsibility it has to its consumers, and they continue to push the envelope when it comes to their movies. Whether it was Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man or Captain Marvel, Marvel has taken pretty big risks when it comes to movies featuring not-as-well-known heroes. In fact, Iron Man himself was nowhere near the icon he is today before Marvel took a risk by putting him on the big screen.

Marvel enjoys taking risks, as long as they have a good story to tell and there is, perhaps, no greater story than that of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Miller, from a screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, Into the Spider-Verse tells a familiar story about a boy bitten by a radioactive spider. The boy in question, however, is not Peter Parker. It’s a young man named Miles Morales. Morales is a young teenage boy struggling to live up to his parents lofty expectations.

Morales finds a distraction from his responsibilities when he meets up with his uncle, Aaron Davis. Uncle Aaron takes Miles to an abandoned subway station to spray-paint graffiti art, one of his true passions. While there, however, Morales gets bitten by (wait for it) a radioactive spider.

Shenanigans ensue, which find Morales taking up the mantle of Spider-Man after a fallen Peter Parker bestows his blessing, as well as a very powerful USB Drive containing a particle accelerator, upon him before dying.

A world without Spider-Man is a sad world indeed, so Morales begins to find the hero within himself. Luckily, thanks to the particle accelerator, he is joined by a variety different Spider-Men/Women/Pigs from other dimensions. Together, they race to defeat a variety of classic Spidey villains and get back to their own universes. Through it all, Miles finds out what it really means to not only be a hero, but to be the Spider-Man.

The plot is a relatively simple one but the writing and voice acting are top-notch. Shameik Moore voices Miles Morales and he brings the character to life in a way never before seen in comics, video games or television shows. It was always an uphill battle that doesn’t star Peter Parker, but somehow, Moore made the audience care just as much about Miles Morales as we do Peter Parker.

Moore is backed up by a cast that includes Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld and even Nicolas Cage! But the cast would be nothing if not for the incredible storytelling of the film. Writers Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman did an admirable job of crafting a story that delves into the history of Spider-Man, while also looking towards its future. Even more than that, though, they told a story that almost anybody can relate to.

Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), and SP//DR in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.

Sometimes, people are born into greatness. Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Others, like Miles Morales, find greatness within themselves because there’s nobody else around. And that is why this film is so good. It inspires greatness but reminds us that, sometimes, we have to find that greatness inside of ourselves. But it also reminds us that it’s okay to ask for help once in a while too.

Into the Spider-Verse is not just a movie for kids. They’re the ones who will probably get the most enjoyment out of it, but this is truly a movie for the whole family to enjoy. There are plenty of jokes, action sequences and nods to Spider-Man lore to keep older viewers engaged. But, being that it’s an animated super hero film, kids will absolutely love it as well.

Into the Spider-Verse won the Oscar for Best Animated Picture and it’s easy to see why. It is about to come out on home video but this is absolutely a film you need to see on the big screen. Luckily, you can do just that at the Fox Theater, and it’s cheaper to rent than on digital, too! If you’re looking for a film to entertain, inspire, challenge and change you, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the perfect family movie to watch.

The kids may initially be disappointed that Peter Parker isn’t the main character of this movie, but by the time the credits roll, they will know exactly what Miles Morales found out for himself throughout the course of the film. They may even want to try to be Spider-Man themselves because, as Miles says…

Anyone can wear the mask.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Don’t tell them to “smile more.” The bartenders that work in The District are pretty good examples of the range of demographics that make up The District itself. It’s an eclectic group of people, all with their own stories to tell.

There’s Alex, the single mom who has been in customer service for the majority of her adult life and chooses to stay there because she knows she’s good at it.

Tessa is a transplant from Las Vegas who, despite her time in Sin City, is still surprised by some of the things she hears on any given night at the bar she works at.

Karen and Jim met and fell in love at the bar they now own and operate together

Geno has been called “Casper’s Best Bartender,” because he takes his job as seriously as a lawyer or a doctor. He isn’t there to be your friend or to wipe your bottom. His job is to serve you drinks and he does it better than almost anybody.

Each and every person that stands behind one of the many bars in The District has their own story to tell. They have their own life, their own fears, and their own worries. They have their own dreams.

Chances are, you’re not a part of them. But, if you mind your manners, follow the Golden Rule and don’t stare for too long, you’ll get some of the best service in the world.

But, whatever you do, don’t tell them to smile.

Tamara has been a bartender for a year-and-a-half. She worked at a handful of different establishments before finding herself working for Karen and Jim Kanelos at The Office Bar & Grill. The Office is more of a laid-back kind of place that caters, generally, to an established group of ‘regulars.’ But The Office is open to anybody looking for a good time and it is Tamara’s face that you usually see upon walking in.

“I’ve learned how to make tons of new drinks since I started working here,” Tamara said. “I’ve learned how to properly pour beers and I’ve heard a lot of stories. It’s been a lot of fun.”

That’s the vibe that both Karen and Jim try to create, for their patrons as well as their employees.

“I definitely love my bosses,” she stated. “Everybody is a team player here, so that’s great. I’ve gotten to know quite a few people. We have a lot of regulars that come in and I absolutely love them. Everybody is really easygoing.”

Naturally, because Tamara is an attractive young woman, she has been the recipient of a multitude of failed pick-up lines.

“I had somebody tell me my name was ‘exquisite’ yesterday,” she laughed. “But then he said my last name needed to be ‘hottie.’

Usually, the bartenders working in The District just laugh off these lines. They’re more concerned with doing their best than about hurting your feelings. Make no mistake, though. Most of the people working behind the bars of The District actually do care about the majority of their customers.

Cindy, a bartender at Frosty’s Bar & Grill has been a bartender for 14 years. She said she has never felt more “at home’ than when she started working at Frosty’s.

“The people that I work with; it’s been the same group of people, pretty consistently, for the past 3 years I’ve been here,” Cindy said. “We don’t have a lot of turnover. Everybody really trusts each other. Everybody works well together. Customers are always good. It’s a really homely, comfortable atmosphere to work in.”

Comfort is important, especially in customer service jobs. There’s no telling what could happen on any given night. The District has had its share of…interesting scenarios. Whether it was a girl impaling herself on a wrought-iron fence, two brothers fighting over the same girl or copious amounts of throw-up to be cleaned up, camaraderie is what keeps these workers sane.

That’s especially true in the case of The Gaslight Social. It could be argued that The Gaslight is the most popular bar in town, and it’s easy to see why. It definitely caters to a younger crowd and the owner of the bar, Matt Galloway, is always trying to innovate. The Gaslight features arcade video games, corn hole tournaments, volleyball games, beer pong and more. It’s more than just a place to sit and have a drink. The owner and employees of The Gaslight want to give their patrons an evening to remember, every time they walk into the bar.

“It started off completely, absolutely nuts,” remembered Tessa, one of The Gaslight’s best bartenders. “We opened right before the Eclipse and it was crazy. I don’t even think we slept more than 3-4 hours a night because we’d go to work [and stay] until 4 or 5 o’clock cleaning the bar, and then we’d have to be back here by 2pm.

But we made so much money.”

And really, that’s why these people do what they do. They may act like a therapist or a parental figure or a friend, but they’re there to make money.

Sam, another bartender from The Gaslight, said she makes more as a bartender than she did in her previous career.

“I was working about 50 hours a week [at my former job] and bringing home the same amount as I would here [at The Gaslight] 3 days a week.”

It is that desire to ‘get paid,’ that has, at least partly, contributed to the community-like atmosphere between the employees.

“We rely on each other to make money,” Tessa stated. “Behind the bar, if somebody isn’t doing well or somebody is sick and they need to go home, we all just cover each other. It’s our family, and it’s how we make our money.”

Bethanie, another Gaslight Gal, reiterated that point.

“Matt [Galloway, owner] is really supportive of his staff,” Bethanie remarked. “It’s definitely more or less like a family environment. There’s a lot of understanding if someone is sick or can’t make it- we really work together to get that shift covered.”

Usually, in the bar or restaurant business, it’s tough to rely on anybody. It’s such an ever-changing industry with extremely high turnover rates, but almost every bar in The District has been compared to a family. This is partly the owners’ doing, but it’s also because of the employees and, yes, the customers.

Shaye has been working at the Yellowstone Garage for 1 ½ years. She, too, has compared her job to a family.

“We aren’t really like a work crew here,” she stated. “We’re more like family. John [Huff, owner] treats everybody just like we’re his. We all get along very well and we all communicate with each other very well.”

Shaye continued, saying that “when it comes to the outside world, we all hang out and call each other and deal with our problems together.”

Bethanie reiterated that point as well.

“You’re in it together,” she said.

And that’s just how it is in The District. Whether it’s Frosty’s, The Office, Yellowstone Garage, The Gaslight Social or any other place in Downtown Casper, there is a sense of community. Everybody wants to see everybody else succeed, because that means Downtown Casper is succeeding.

“Being dead center in the middle of downtown and having all this competition…I don’t even want to say it’s competition at this point,” Shay stated. “We’re becoming a huge group of people who can provide for everybody and make everyone enjoy downtown a lot more than they’ve been able to.”

Most of the bars and restaurants in The District will work together. They will call each other to let them know about certain patrons, or situations that might affect the other.

Beyond that, every summer features a multitude of block parties and art walks. Business owners within The District have cultivated a sense of community between each other, and it’s the patrons of these places that have benefitted the most.

“Our block parties are some of the best parts about summer,” Sam said. “All the bars come together and create a fun time. We even have an open container license during the summer. People can just walk around and I think [the block parties] have brought a whole lot of business to the community.

 

Alex, a bartender at a burger joint-cum-bar called The Branding Iron, said that she believes all of the businesses in The District are more successful because they work together.

“Nobody wants to see anybody else fail,” she said. “We all support each other and help each other. We all know each other, pretty much. Nobody knows how hard this job is, except for somebody else who is doing the same job.”

That, perhaps, is why there’s such a camaraderie between all of the businesses in The District. They all relate to each other. They see the same things, deal with the same issues and deflect the same creeps. They all watch out for their customers as well.

“We see a lot of Tinder meets and sometimes they don’t work out so great,” Sam laughed. “I feel like we look out for the girls to make sure they’re okay.”

The bartenders in The District try to take care of their customers and of each other. Because you never know who might be sitting at the other side of the bar.

“Every single night, you hear something you’re not expecting to hear,” Tessa remarked. “I eavesdrop a hundred percent when I’m bartending. Most of the time, [people] are talking to you- as a bartender and a therapist and a friend. You hear some of the worst things that you never want to hear, and they just trust you with that as a bartender.”

That trust goes a long way, and it’s something that, ideally, would be reciprocated by the customers. Bartenders would love to trust that their patrons are actually decent people. Sometimes, however, this just isn’t the case.

“There was this one guy that did the whole ‘you’re beautiful,’ thing,” Shaye remembered. “He said ‘I know you’re on your feet all day, but you always have a place to sit when you need to.’”

Shaye, along with most of The District’s bartenders, can usually laugh off these comments. In a perfect world, however, they wouldn’t need to laugh these comments off because the comments wouldn’t be made in the first place.

Bethanie said that “sometimes it feels like we’re babysitting grown adults. Sometimes you have to, more or less, get down on their level, like a child, and explain to them the rights and wrongs of communicating with people.”

It’s not just harassment of the sexual variety that these people need to deal with, either. Nothing ruins a day or kills a mood more than when Karen comes in with her shoes and her haircut and demands to speak to the manager about something that happened 3 weeks ago.

“We’re humans,” Bethanie stated. “We’re trying to perform the best that we can. It might look like, on the opposite side of the bar, that we might not be doing much to bring you that beer right away, but in our minds, we might have 3 orders already in our head that we need to execute first.”

So suck it, Karen. They’re doing their best. This is made all the more difficult when they’re trying to appease you all the while dealing with Brent or Trent or Kent or some other guy with a douchey ‘ent’ name that thinks he’s the funniest, most charming guy in the world. We hate to break it you, gents- you’re not charming, strippers don’t actually like you and the girl serving you a drink is not your mother or your girlfriend. You’re her customer. So act accordingly.

“One thing that does bother me the most is when I’m working and men always tell me that I ‘need to smile more,’” Bethanie said. “They say I’d be much prettier if I smile or ask me what’s wrong. Listen, I’m not walking around like I’m Cinderella. It’s a 12-hour shift. If I smiled for 12 hours straight, I would look like a serial killer.”

Despite a few bad apples, however, the community within The District has been a mostly positive one. Everybody on this side of town wants to see it succeed, from business owners, to employees, all the way down to the customers. Everybody is trying to make The District something special, something unique and something beautiful.

“Thank you,” Tessa said. “Without the community, we wouldn’t be the bar that we are. Without the community, period, Matt [Galloway] wouldn’t have even had the idea to create the bar that he did, with the outside events and all the concerts.”

Without the community, the bars in The District wouldn’t exist. But it feels like we’re on the verge of something big in Downtown Casper. Everybody wants to be a part of it and everybody wants to see it succeed. So, next time you’re in a bar, throw a little encouragement towards your bartender. Say something nice-but-not-creepy. Better yet, show them your appreciation with your wallet.

Mostly, don’t tell your bartenders to smile. Give them a reason to.

 

 

 

Now, if you’ll excuse this writer, I’m going to go apologize to every bartender I’ve ever hit on.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

People living in Wyoming love to smother their food. Whether it’s with brown gravy, white gravy, turkey gravy or chili, Wyomingites love when their food is topped with some sort of viscous deliciousness. People are especially wild, and picky, about green chili. It’s one of the favorite foods of Wyomingites and don’t you dare tell them that their favorite green chili isn’t the best green chili.

Luckily, for those of us in The District, there are a plethora of green chili options available, as well as a host of delicious foods to smother said chili with. From bars and grills to diners, The District hosts some of the best green chili in the entire state.

One of the best places to get your green chili fix is The Office Bar & Grill. Now, personally, we trust Greeks more than we trust most when it comes to our favorite foods. Because of this, it should be no surprise that we love the green chili that Jim Kanelos, owner of The Office, cooks up every week.

After hearing from some of his customers that the green chili was a bit to “water-y,” Kanelos took it upon himself to take off the tie and put on the apron and start making it himself. (That was a metaphor, FYI- Jim never wears ties).

“I’ve always loved making it,” Kanelos admitted. “I always want it to be just right. I don’t measure anything out. I know my ‘this’ and I know my ‘that.’ I know exactly what I’m doing.”

He isn’t lying. When one of The Office’s green chili burgers come out, or a plate of fries that are smothered in the stuff make their presence felt, it is a symphony of the senses.

“You smell it first,” Kanelos warns. “When it comes out, you smell it and it makes you instantly hungry. It has a fantastic taste. It’s not too hot, but it’s got some kick to it.”

When Jim says “some kick,” what he means really means “curb stomp,” but in the best possible way. The green chili at The Office Bar & Grill is something that can be eaten as a side, a topping or even simply by itself. It has enough flavor and enough sustenance to fill you up on its own. But if we were you, we’d order it on top of the made-to-order fries. That’s the best way to experience the taste, history and pride of The Office Bar & Grill’s green chili.

Speaking of pride, The Branding Iron has a lot of it when it comes to the myriad of burgers it sells. You can top said burgers with eggs, peanut butter, hot sauce and more. But there is one topping that transcends all the rest and that is the green chili.

Jamie Reed, the Service Manager for the Branding Iron, said that their ‘Santa Fe’ burger is one of their top sellers.

“It’s something new,” Reed said. “When we first opened, we offered our ‘San Antonio Burger,’ which is a red chili burger. We added the ‘Santa Fe’ after that because people just kept ordering green chili on the side, so we just added the burger to our menu.”

In addition to the green chili, the ‘Santa Fe’ burger has another topping that we didn’t know we needed until we tried it- an egg. Now, we couldn’t imagine ourselves having a burger without it.

The sweetness of the egg cuts the spiciness of the green chili, and the result is a cacophony of flavors dancing on our tongues. With the ‘Santa Fe’ burger, you get breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one meal.

The only thing that goes better with green chili than an egg is, naturally, beer. At Frosty’s Bar & Grill, you can get both.

Troy Tanner is the lead cook at Frosty’s, and he makes a mean green chili that even your mother would be envious of. Frosty’s has been lovingly called “a dive bar,” but that has more to do with aesthetics than quality. For proof of this, one need only to order a plate of Frosty’s green chili fries.

“It’s freshly made,” Tanner stated. “We make it every 2-3 days and the ingredients in it are just fantastic.”

What are those ingredients, exactly? Well, we can’t spill the (chili) beans on everything, but we can confirm that Frosty’s green chili consists of pork, garlic, cumin, onion, tomato, green chilies, jalapenos, water, and more. There is a secret ingredient in their green chili that we’ve been sworn to secrecy on. If we divulge it, we’re risking death- or, even worse, never getting to eat their green chili again. Please, we begged. Take our lives, but not our green chili.

If ever we were to be cut off from Frosty’s green chili, at least we would be able to jaunt down the street to Yellowstone Garage. There, the green chili is as big a part of its popularity as the building itself.

Kitchen Manager Dustan Mark has been working at Yellowstone Garage since it opened, and he had nothing but good things to say about his job.

“I like working here because we’re in a historic building, in kind of a historic neighborhood,” Mark stated. “I feel like this was the beginning of the whole District being started. I like being on the ground-level of a cool thing that’s happening in Casper.”

Yellowstone Garage is cool. Whether it’s because of the events it puts on, the staff, the drinks or the food, Yellowstone Garage is one of the best aspects of The District. A big reason for that is its green chili.

“We do our green chili and all our soups from scratch. I don’t know if everyone does that. I hope that they do.”

Surprisingly, most of the restaurants in The District do make their green chili from scratch. In fact, out of all the places we visited, none of the restaurants or bars had frozen or stock green chili. Every place featured fresh ingredients that were lovingly prepared by cooks like Dustan.

Dustan is especially proud of the ingredients that go into Yellowstone’s green chili.

“We’ve got green chilies, jalapenos, ground cumin and more,” he stated. “When I roast my pork, I put lemons and line in there with it, so it’s kind of got a citrus kick to it.”

The citrus that comes from the pork perfectly offsets the spice that comes from the chilies and jalapenos. All of the flavors balance each other out, which makes it a delicious dish on its own. But if you’re really looking for a taste-bud overload, order their fries and have them smother ‘em with chili!

Are you hungry yet? If not, you haven’t been paying attention. For that, you will get a swift kick in the butt from Sherrie Lopez, the owner and head chef of Sherrie’s Place. But after that, she will hug you and give you a bowl of her famous green chili.

Sherrie makes her chili 4 times a week. It includes real chunks of pork and sausage and a couple other secret ingredients. There is one ingredient that could only come from Sherrie, herself, though.

“I make it homemade and I put a lot of TLC in it,” she said. “That’s the biggest secret ingredient.”

Sherrie puts a lot of TLC into all of her dishes. In fact, all of the chefs in The District put a healthy amount of love into what they do. That’s because they love what they do, they love who they do it for, and they love where they do it.

The District is home to some incredible restaurants that put out some amazing food. All of them do so with a love and appreciation for their customers. It is because of the customers that these businesses are able to thrive and, in turn, serve up the best green chili in town.

So with all of that being said, why do we like green chili? Why do we insist on smothering things with it? Why does the word ‘smothering’ make our mouths water just by saying (or writing) it?

In her trademark snarkiness, Sherrie answered our question with a question of her own.

“Who doesn’t like smothering things in green chili? It enhances the flavor.”

Dustan, meanwhile, had a more…thoughtful response.

“I think it’s like the next step up from gravy, ya know? Gravy’s good on everything. Chili’s got a little bit of a kick to it.

It’s a good condiment that you wouldn’t think is a condiment.”

Okay well, now we do! Forget the ketchup, mustard or ranch dressing. Pass the green chili, please!

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

It was never supposed to be a passion project or a labor of love. For Jason Dye, owner of 307 Metal Works, the projects that he and his crew created in their spare time wasn’t because of some unfulfilled desire to create art.

It was to survive.

“At the time [making these decorations] was almost out of necessity, just to keep the lights on for our fabrication business,” Dye stated. “We were selling it out of our fab shop. Everything plummeted so hard, that we didn’t have a whole lot of opportunity for a whole lot of work, so we were just trying to come up with the best ideas we could and around Christmas time of that year, we started building the wall hangings.”

Those wall hangings that he spoke of were strewn about the new 307 Metal Works shop, located on David Street, next door to Metro Coffee Co. and right across the street from The David Street Station, are beautiful. They are metal sheets cut into Wyoming-proud décor. From crosses, to cowboys to buffalos emblazoned with the 307, these pieces of art a must-have for any Wyoming citizen. They are truly a sight to behold, but they started out as simply a way to make ends-meet.

“We own a fabrication shop here in Casper, Double D Welding,” Dye said. “It’s a very oil field-driven shop, so we try to spread our wings as wide as we can and get away from that as much as we can, as often as we can.”

When the oilfield was not bringing in as much revenue as Dye and his crew needed, they turned toward creating art, a hobby that Dye had been practicing in his free time at his own home.

“A number of years ago, we started building this kind of stuff, ornamental stuff, fire pits, outdoor bars, different things like that,” Dye said.

“I started with my own backyard. I took some pictures and did some networking, met with a couple different outdoor furniture places and Keyhole Outdoor Living took us on and they started selling our products on their floor.”

In addition to Keyhole, Dye began selling some of his work via various social mediums, which garnered enough attention (and dollars) to warrant having its own “space,” which Dye called 307 Metal Works.

As business picked back up in the oilfield, Dye and his crew got busy as well. But his other work was always in the back of his mind.

“Once business started regenerating in the oilfield, a little bit came back and we started to see a lot more work and influx come through the fabrication shop,” he said. “It would have been very easy to let this go by the wayside. So that kind of spurred me to want to open a storefront, to keep it in the forefront of our minds, moving forward with all of this stuff, that it wouldn’t just get washed over when we’d get busy doing everything else. This kind of keeps everything fresh.”

307 Metal Works took up shop in the Wolcott Galleria, an area that it occupied until December of 2018. Then, Dye decided, it was time to enter The District.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind for the last couple years because the original storefront was in the Wolcott Galleria,” Dye said. “We opened about a week before the Eclipse and kind of tried to get in on that. It worked out well. That was a good location for us but I think sitting idle and being content with anything [in life] is not a good thing. There’s always room for improvement, no matter what level of business you’re on. We’re always looking to grow and expand.”

That’s exactly what they did, by stationing themselves in The District. In addition to its location, 307 has also supplied work for various other District businesses, including The Gaslight Social.

“We built all the bar tops at the Gaslight, and all the steelwork over there. They had a unique idea and we were lucky to be a part of it.”

Unique ideas are nothing new to Dye and the crew behind 307 Metal Works. They have designed everything from signs, to fire pits, to mirrors, barbeques and more. All of which celebrate the pride that comes naturally to Wyoming-ites.

“We’re kind of a unique state with roots that people don’t take for granted. We’re not like a big state that has multiple athletic programs or colleges or universities, so we’re a very small, hometown-like feel. Everybody is very proud of what Wyoming is based off of.”

It is that pride that caused Dye to start welding 307 memorabilia in the first place, and it’s that same pride that is etched in every piece of work he and his team create.

Whether it’s an idea the guys have or something brought to that by an interested party, Jason says he and his team can take on any project, large or small.

Looking around his shop, Dye said that “this is just kind of a gallery of ideas. We sell a handful of things off the wall here, but a lot of things that come in are special ordered. They have an idea coming in here about what they want. We kind of run with it and bounce ideas off of them and it’s back and forth until we key in what the ideal object is for them.”

307 Metal Works didn’t start out in an ideal situation. It didn’t start out as a passion project or a labor of love. But, over the course of the years, that is exactly what it has become. Some artists need palates or paper. Other artists need a guitar or a pen and paper. For Jason Dye and the rest of his team at 307, well, metal works just fine.

 

307 Metal Works is located next to Metro Coffee Company, at 241 South David. They are open Tue-Sat, 11am-5:30pm and Sunday, 11am-4pm. For more information, or to get a quote, visit https://www.facebook.com/307-Metal-Works-100297817355410/ or call 307-333-5840.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

“Too late, my time has come
Sends shivers down my spine
Body’s aching all the time
Goodbye everybody I’ve got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, oh oh (anyway the wind blows)
I don’t want to die
Sometimes wish I’d never been born at all

– Freddy Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody.

There are two moments in Bryan Singer’s 2018 film, Bohemian Rhapsody that perfectly encapsulate the two sides of Freddy Mercury, the iconic lead singer and frontman of the rock band Queen.

The first moment is towards the beginning (and the end, really) of the film. It shows Mercury and his bandmates getting ready to hit the stage for their iconic 1985 Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in London. The moment in question sees Mercury take his seat on stage left at his piano. The crowd at Wembley is packed, with over 170,000 people gathered to watch heroes become legends and bring relief to the famine crisis in Ethiopia.

The moment is brief, but it sees Mercury scan the crowd, take a deep breath and his body literally sends shivers down his spine. Time pauses for a second. And then he sings. And history is made.

But for Mercury, the moment was one of redemption. It was one of stubborn refusal. It was the moment that, finally, Freddy Mercury knew he was loved.

The other moment occurs in the middle of the film. After an especially extravagant party thrown by Mercury comes to its conclusion, he is left alone in his house with nothing but the silence. With nobody left to drown that silence out, he calls his ex-wife/best friend who lives next door to him. As was a tradition with the two, Freddy asks Mary to pour herself a drink so the two can toast each other. She doesn’t but tells Freddy that she did. Satisfied, Freddy toasts his own glass, under the belief that, even in that big, empty house, he wasn’t alone.

Those were the two images of Freddy Mercury portrayed in Bohemian Rhapsody- one of a lonely man trying to find his worth, and that of one who finally accepts it.

There was more, much more to Bohemian Rhapsody, but those are the images I walked away with.

As a casual fan of Queen (I was born in ’87, so it’s not like I grew up with them or anything), I always knew they were a talented band. I knew Freddy Mercury was gay. I knew that sports crowds often sang two of Queen’s most famous songs. But I didn’t know Queen, like really know them, and I certainly didn’t know Freddy Mercury.

After seeing the film, I still don’t think I know Freddy Mercury. I know the character that Rami Malek played- a selfish, narcissistic yet good-hearted tortured soul who just wanted to have a good time but never really did.

Admittedly, Malek did a phenomenal job in his role as Mr. Fahrenheit. Like Jim Carrey playing Andy Kauffman, Malek didn’t just act like Freddy Mercury. He became Freddy Mercury. He was the perfect choice to play Mercury and he did not disappoint.

What was disappointing was how quickly this film covered all of the important events in the life of Mercury and of Queen. Granted, there’s no way a 2-hour film could possibly encompass everything that happened on stage and backstage with, arguably, the greatest rock and roll band of all time. But, much like The Greatest Showman, Bohemian Rhapsody opted to go for the easiest possible approach to filmmaking.

  • Audience is introduced to the main character, who we like
  • Main character rises, and we begin to like him less
  • Main character falls, and we feel bad for him even though it’s kind of his own fault
  • Main character finds redemption, and we like him again
  • Main character has one final, beautiful moment.

It’s a story trope that has been done to death over the years. Literally, those same points could describe the plot of The Greatest Showman. It’s the easiest road to take because movies like this aren’t supposed to make you think; they’re supposed to make you feel.

And ya know what? Just like The Greatest Showman, Bohemian Rhapsody gave me all the feels and I left the theater belting out Queen’s hits as if I’ve been listening to them since ’85.

And the best part is, that’s completely okay! It’s okay to go to a movie just to be entertained and to feel good. Bohemian Rhapsody wasn’t meant to go deep into the darkness of Freddy Mercury. There are plenty of documentaries that have done that. Bohemian Rhapsody was made to remind audiences about the hurricane known as Freddy Mercury and, hopefully, inspire them to do their own research.

That was the point of Bohemian Rhapsody- to entertain, inspire and introduce Freddy Mercury to a new generation. To that end, it was extremely successful. It wasn’t a deep film, made for audiences who wanted to really peel back the layers of one of music’s most enigmatic characters. The people who want that can do it for themselves. God knows I have been. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched every documentary ever produced about Queen, Freddy Mercury and the British music scene in general. But I’ll probably never watch those documentaries again. With Bohemian Rhapsody, I have a feeling I’ll be returning to it time and time again once it comes out on home video.

But make no mistake, this film needs to be seen in a theater, with Queen fans, on a big screen. I don’t care how big your plasma screen is Brad, no home television set will be able to capture just how big Freddy Mercury is. Luckily, for just a while longer, audiences can check out Bohemian Rhapsody at the Fox Theater downtown. Though the Fox doesn’t have the luxury recliners that its cousins do, it does offer discounted prices, which is a big sell. Going to the movies is expensive these days, so it’s nice to have a theater like the Fox Theater that only charges $3.50 for a ticket. You might not see a movie right when it comes out, but you won’t have to sell your plasma just to be able to afford Sour Patch Kids, either.

Making the experience even more wonderful, as I came out of the Fox Theater, it was late at night with very few cars and people milling about. As I was walking back home through The District, it was just me, Freddy and the echo of my poorly-sung version of Bohemian Rhapsody filling the night sky.

And wasn’t that the point of Bohemian Rhapsody? To make audiences want to sing, smile and work towards our own dreams, just as Freddy Mercury did for his?  Mercury died from AIDS in 1991. His words in the song, Bohemian Rhapsody, talk of a man who sometimes wished he hadn’t been born at all.

Luckily, for music fans past, present and future, he was born. And though he died too early and too young, his legacy will forever remain. That’s why Bohemian Rhapsody was made, and that’s why I enjoyed it so damn much.

Bohemian Rhapsody gets 7 mustaches out of 10.

To see this film and many more, check out the Fox Movie Theater, located at 150 West 2nd Street, Casper WY, 82601. For more information, as well as ticket prices and show times, visit www.wyomovies.com.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

You walk through the door and, as your eyes begin to adjust the mid-afternoon darkness, the rest of the Frosty’s ‘regulars’ turn their heads to you and nod in acknowledgment.
At the corner of the bar is Tom, a newspaper journalist who is drinking away the fact the print media is a dying industry.
To his right is Lanny, an electrician, drinking his usual gin ‘n tonic. He smiles at you and shakes your hand.
There’s Connie, a teacher who wouldn’t make it through the school week without her Friday margarita to look forward to.
You scan the rest of the bar and see Tony, the chef at a local restaurant that you frequent. He owes you a meal for some work that you did on the side for him.
As you sit down at the bar, the bartender, without even asking, pours you an Old Fashioned. She knows this is the drink you always order so no questions are asked. You thank her, take that first drink and breathe a sigh of relief. You’re here. You’ve made it through the day, dealt with all of its headaches and now you get to relax with a drink and with your friends. These are your people. This is your bar.

Though Frosty’s Bar & Grill belongs to all of us, it is owned by Nancy Goddard, along with her daughter, granddaughter, and son. Goddard was the previous owner of the Sandbar in the Old Yellowstone District and she turned their fortunes around considerably before focusing her attention on Frosty’s.

Goddard has been in the business for years. It’s a part of her lifeblood and it is something that she has passed onto her daughter, as well her granddaughter. Morgan Morsett is the granddaughter of Nancy and she is also the current General Manager of Frosty’s. Previously, Morsett worked in retail and had gone to school to be a social worker. But the allure of working with her family in a place that she loved was too powerful to pass up.

“I had started [working] at The Sandbar, and I really enjoyed it there,” Morsett stated. “I liked the job. It was just a little, I got really kind of thrown into it. I started bartending and managing less than two months after my 21st birthday, so the bar lifestyle was completely new to me altogether.”

Morsett, knowing her limitations, stepped back from a managerial role for a time and focused on what she believed she was best at; namely, interacting with people. After Nancy bought Frosty’s, she made her granddaughter an offer that she couldn’t refuse.

“The manager left [Frosty’s] and my grandma was like ‘maybe you’ll like the feel of this place. It’s not quite as chaotic. It’s not as big, you’ve got a different clientele. Maybe you’ll fit in a little bit here.”

She did.

Frosty’s was everything one thinks of when they imagine a ‘dive bar.’ It was dark, smoky (up until the cigarette ban) and there was always laughter, always talking, always a good song on the jukebox.

“It’s a very Cheers-like feel here,” Morsett boasted. “Your bartender knows your name when you walk in the door. We know what your drink is. We know what time to expect you and on what days. It’s very family-oriented, I guess, in that our customers are all very close. Everyone’s friends, everyone knows each other and looks out for each other.  It’s kind of like its own little community.”

That’s how Frosty’s has always been, even when it was just a package liquor store sharing office space with the neighboring Bushwell’s Sporting Goods store. There’s a picture of Frosty’s original owner, standing alongside his son-in-law. It’s a subtle reminder of the history of this bar and all of the blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into keeping it open. Keeping it open and staying true to its core has been an interesting venture, especially because of all of the new establishments popping up in The District. But Nancy, Morgan and the rest of the Frosty’s staff have no intentions of closing down anytime soon. They also don’t plan on changing their essence to “fit in” with “modern bars.”

“It’s very original,” Morsett said. “It’s not modern, by any means. It’s got that ‘home’ feel to it. When I say ‘dive bar,’ I don’t mean that in a negative sense. We pride ourselves on being that cozy dive bar.”

The District needs a place like Frosty’s. Every town needs a place like Frosty’s. Other business owners in Downtown Casper knows this as well. In fact, one of the greatest things about The District is the camaraderie and support that every business has for each other.

“We all do really well communicating with fellow managers,” Morsett stated. “If we have a problematic person or somebody who’s just had too much to drink, and I overhear that person say ‘let’s go to The Office, or Gaslight or The Wonder Bar instead, since they’re not letting us continue to drink,’ I’ll shoot [the other bars] a call and let the other bartenders know that this person is already heading their way and, forewarning, they’re already intoxicated. We try to have a good rapport in that sense. The land between Center and Elm Street, as well as the land between 2nd Street and Midwest Avenue, is a sacred place. As more and more focus is given to Downtown Casper, it would be easy for businesses to work against each other in a cutthroat style to make sure their place is the best place. It’s not like that in The District. Each and every business works together and helps each other out. They all participate in events like the Art Walk or Third Thursday. They all support each other, and that’s why The District has been able to thrive.

“That’s always been one of my favorite parts about Casper, in general,” Morsett said. “It’s the sense of community that businesses can work together and not be pitted against each other. We’re all in this together. If any of us start failing, we’re gonna do what we can to help pick each other back up and keep the downtown feel alive and successful and prosperous.”

That attitude is shared by Jim and Karen Kanelos from The Office. It’s shared by Matt Galloway from the Gaslight Social. It’s shared by the owners of C85 Wonder Bar and Marcos Coal-Fired Pizza. Every business in the District has its own niche, its own clients and that’s why Downtown Casper is such a happening place every week. Everybody works together to give Casper the best possible experience. Having a drink at Frosty’s is certainly an experience. They serve food daily and it’s really good. Every week or so, they will feature local bands and musicians who have a song to sing or a story to tell. There are always stories at Frosty’s- you just have to listen for them.

“It’s a great place to come and have a conversation without all the hustle and bustle,” Morsett stated. “You don’t feel like you’re righting a crowd. It’s not overly-loud. You can get a good meal at a reasonable price. My bartenders, my staff, my kitchen staff- they’re all awesome and we all really take care of each other here.”

Morgan said Frosty’s is like a family. She would know, as most of her family works there. But it’s not just her grandmother and mom that she views as family. It’s Tom and Lanny and Tony and Connie. It’s the ‘regulars’ that she sees, without fail, every Friday night or Saturday afternoon. It’s you, too. When you walk into the door of Frosty’s, whether it’s your first or fiftieth time, you will be greeted like you were an old friend or a member of the family. That’s the great thing about this old-timey ‘Dive Bar.’ Every time you walk in, it feels like you’re coming home because, just like the song says, “Everybody knows your name.”

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

If you don’t like what they’re saying, change the conversation.”
— Don Draper

It was a dead end. If on a random Saturday night, ten years ago, you found yourself at the cross section of David and Yellowstone Street, you had gone too far. Time to flip around and go back to the East side of town, where the real action was. Not all that long ago, Downtown Casper was a ghost town. It was old, dirty and, according to our mothers, dangerous.

Aside from the movie theaters and a couple of restaurants, there wasn’t much to Downtown Casper. Businesses were built on the East side or the far West side. Places that, ya know, people would actually go to. Downtown was desolate for the longest time, and it was hindering the growth of Casper.

“The money’s on the East side,” most old-timers would say. That’s where the renowned McMurry family lived and built businesses. It’s where the best car dealerships were located. It’s where the best schools and restaurants were frequented. “Downtown,” for all intents and purposes, simply didn’t exist. Even if it did, nobody would want to claim it, anyway.

That is until the Downtown Development Authority decided to change that. One man, in particular, took it upon himself to ‘change the narrative.’ His name is Kevin Hawley and he is the Executive Director of the DDA. For years, Hawley had seen the potential for downtown, along with a few other notable names like John Huff, Karen and Jim Kanelos and more. They believed in the potential of Downtown Casper. The tricky part was convincing the public to do the same.

“People, for the longest time, said our downtown sucks,” remarked Hawley. “[They would say] ‘there’s nothing to do downtown; that’s for my grandma.’”

Well turns out, grandma was a lot more hip than you thought because she was right. Downtown was cool and it did have potential. The conversation just needed to be changed.

Enter the DDA and, specifically, the creation of the David Street Station.

“5 years ago, we started the conversation,” Hawley said. “We asked ourselves, ‘what can we do to dramatically change where we’re going as a downtown?’”

Dramatically was the key point. If downtown was going to change, it needed to be more than just an aesthetic facelift. It needed to be more than potholes being filled, sidewalks being repaired and flashy signs saying how great Downtown Casper was. The DDA knew they needed to change the conversation in a big way and in a way that people would actually care about.

Coincidentally, rumors were starting to abound that Casper was about to get hit with a wave of tourists because of an eclipse that was going to take place in the summer of 2017. Wyoming’s Best Kept Secret was about to be released to the public, and the Downtown Development Authority wanted to make an impact.

That’s exactly what they did with the creation of the David Street Station- a huge, outdoor multi-functional events center that could present concerts, movies, parties, festivals and more. The David Street Station, it was hoped, would be the beacon that would guide other businesses and patron’s downtown.

It worked.

The road to get there wasn’t an easy one, but it also wasn’t as hard as one would expect. Like a jigsaw puzzle being put together by a cocaine addict, once the idea was there, the pieces started falling into place relatively quickly.

The first step, obviously, was getting funding. For a massive project like what The Station was projected to be, the DDA needed funding from the city, the state, public and private investment. And that was just to get the thing built and functional.

They started with the state which, ironically, was in a building built on part of the property that the David Street Station would be on.

Hawley laughed at the memory of that initial meeting.

“It was really tough to go to the State of Wyoming and say ‘Not only do we want to buy your property and kick you out, but we also want you to pay for part of it.’”

Surprisingly, the state went for it. So did the city.

Get ready, because we’re about to talk numbers.

“The city pledged $3 million from un-allocated One Cent taxes,” Hawley stated. “They had $25 million kind of leftover that they didn’t have projects allocated [for], so they said ‘We’ll contribute $3 million of that as the public investment.

Then, we marched down to the state and raised $1 million in state grants. Then, we balanced that with, now, over $6 million in private investment in the public project. That spurred over $45 million in private investment in property acquisition and rehabilitation within 3 blocks, in 18 months.”

Casper was ready for something different, and they put their money where their mouth was. The city, state, public and private investors all contributed upwards of tens of millions of dollars because they all agreed with Hawley’s original vision- that Downtown Casper had a hell of a lot of potential.

Various people within the city saw what Downtown Casper could be, but the world saw what Casper was capable of on August 21, 2017. That was the day of the Eclipse.

Thousands of people flocked to Casper, as it was alleged to be one of the prime viewing locations in the country. Casper, as it’s wont to do, rose to the occasion.

Various businesses rolled out the red carpet for tourists and locals alike. Hotels were booked solid. Restaurants were making money hand over fist. New establishments, like the Gaslight Social, timed their grand openings just in time for the Eclipse. It was The David Street Station, however, that was the real star of the show…besides, ya know, the sun.

“Here we are, open for the Eclipse,” Hawley beamed. “[We had] really good fanfare for that. Then, that came and went and we had a few events after that but were more focused on opening the other half [of the Station]. We did that on June 1st and we’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ since. I think everybody loved the splash pad and we were really excited that [the public] got to see the full version when we opened the skating rink, with the tree as well.”

In November of 2018, The David Street Station installed an ice skating rink to coincide with their (now) Annual Tree Lighting Festival. Hundreds of Casper citizens gathered downtown to usher in yet another era for the David Street Station, The District and Downtown Casper as a whole.

Hawley was there of course, and as he was taking in the truly magical scene, one of his employees walked up to him, put an arm around his shoulder and asked if he could have ever imagined it would be like this.

“I looked at him and was like, ‘Yeah. Yeah I did,’” Hawley remembered.

Hawley always knew what Downtown Casper was capable of. Another vital part of The David Street Station, who also saw its potential, was Jackie Landess. Landess is the Operations Manager for the David Street Station and, as a recent college graduate, she represents The District’s youth perspective. After she graduated, Landess was trying to decide her next step. As it turned out, that next step led her right to The District.

“I saw the vision and was ready to move home,” she said.

Hawley joked that Landess “started at the bottom and worked her way up to the glamorous world of cleaning bathrooms and changing garbages.”

While those less-than-glamorous chores are, indeed, part of the gig, Landess is responsible for a lot more. She is the one that develops and implements many of the events and activities that take place at the David Street Station.

She is responsible for events like the aforementioned tree lighting ceremony, the Cinema and Skate events for children, the newly-developed Broomball League, concerts, rally’s and more.

Landess is truly a Jack(ie)-of-all-trades and a master of them all.

Never was this more evident than with the recent “Noon Year’s Day Mac & Cheese Festival.” This was the 2nd year in a row David Street Station hosted a family-oriented New Year’s Celebration and, even with a typical Wyoming Blizzard, they had over 1800 people show up. Fortunately, the DDA had The Lyric as a backup in case of weather. Well, weather happened so the festival was moved. Even with its change in location, however, that event just goes to show how invested people are in their community and how most of us are eager to connect with each other.

The David Street Station allows for that to happen. But it’s not the only business that believes in Downtown Casper.

“This wasn’t the savior of downtown,” Hawley said of The Station. “This was one component to a successful and thriving downtown.”

The people behind David Street Station couldn’t have done it on their own, by themselves. If they didn’t have the support of other businesses and, most importantly, the community, David Street Station simply wouldn’t exist.

“Being that we’re privately funded, not from the city, we’re only as strong as the community that supports us,” Hawley stated.

He continued, stating that one of the biggest struggles of operating The Station is that “although there was a public contribution, to this public project from the city and from the taxpayers through One-Cent, this still isn’t operated by the city. We’re not a line item on their budget. Everything we do is privately funded for the operations and maintenance. That’s where it’s been a struggle, especially this summer when it was just Jackie and I. It was overwhelmingly difficult to keep up with everything but we did whatever it took.”

They did whatever it took, and it shows. The David Street Station is a product of the hearts, minds, dreams and, yes, pocketbooks of numerous people. It is truly a labor of love, but it’s something that all of Casper gets to love.

“There’s a lot of negativity in the world,” Hawley said. “I think David Street Station is everything that’s good about Casper. Coming down there, meeting people, having fun, smiling, meeting new friends, seeing old friends.”

“Casper, this is yours,” he continued. “Take care of it. Take pride in it.”

The David Street Station was not the product of just one person. It wasn’t the product of two or three people. The reason David Street Station was built and the reason that it functions is that the community knew that Casper had the potential to be more than “just another town in Wyoming.” The community knew it had the chance to be something special; especially our downtown.

“We just decided to start telling people that downtown is cool! It started slowly; you’re not going to change it overnight, but our downtown is cool. Here’s what’s going on: we’ve got Third Thursday, we’ve got the Art Walk, we’ve got Rock the Block, we’ve got Frontier Brewing, we’ve got the Balloon Fest. You just change the narrative, change the story.”

That’s exactly what they did and that story began in The District. We think we’ll call it “Where Casper Comes Together.”

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

When Lauren Podjun was a little girl, her mother asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up.

“I wanna be a rock star,” she said.

It’s taken her 19 years, but Podjun is closer than ever to reaching her dream. As a college student with a Major in Vocal Performance, she spends the majority of her day surrounded by other musicians and, most importantly, music. It’s always been this way for Podjun, even as a child. After moving to Wyoming in 2008, her parents put enrolled her in piano lessons. While the lessons were monotonous at first, they developed a very strong foundation for Podjun in regards to music.

“I think when you’re a kid, you hate practicing,” Podjun said. “No kid likes to practice, but I started getting into ensembles at school and I loved it. It was the most amazing experience. The most amazing experiences I’ve had in school have been with my music groups.”

“Practicing is always a chore, but it’s a chore I’d rather do than math homework,” she continued.

In truth, Podjun would rather do anything than math homework. Or any schoolwork, for that matter. She isn’t lazy- far from it, actually. But Lauren is one of the 43.5 million Americans living with dyslexia.

“Dyslexia- that’s where the problems with school came from,” Podjun shared. “It’s always been there. It’s just wanting to be so much better than I am; the perfectionist thing. Having that learning disability has really been rough on me because I just wanted to be the best [as a kid]. I wanted to be able to read as fast as the other kids. I didn’t want to be in the ‘special classes.’ I didn’t want to fall behind.”

School is a hard experience for any kid, but factoring in the difficulties that come with dyslexia only added to the stress.

Luckily, there was always music.

“Music really kept me in school, and it was so lovely to have such an amazing teacher help me and give me a place to be,” Podjun said. “Every kid needs that. Every kid needs a place to feel at home and I really felt at home in a band room.”

It was the piano lessons that first instilled a love of music for Lauren, but it was when she was 11 years old that she realized music was her future.

“When I got into my first ensemble in 5th grade, Ms. Hanson changed my life forever,” she said.

School could have been a miserable experience for Lauren but she found something that gave her peace.

“Music, for me, was everything,” she said. “I was not good at school. I struggled but I found a lot of refuge in music, so I put my whole heart into it. Everything I had went into music, because music is where I really felt like I could really give.”

Music really was a refuge for Podjun but, as she grew older, it became something so much more. It became her blanket. It became the window to her soul. Music, for all intents and purposes, became her life. While she loved performing in ensembles, and one day dreams of joining a band to collaborate with others, Podjun currently works as a solo act. She has performed all across the District and beyond, playing gigs at Metro Coffee Co., Crescent Moon Coffee Stop, the David Street Station, Racca’s Pizzeria and more.

Podjun is but one of the myriad of talented individuals that The District has to offer. It is her instrument of choice, however, that really makes her stand out.

“I played piano and wrote a lot of my music on the piano at first, but I realized I couldn’t take a piano everywhere I went, so I would strum on my viola, which eventually kind of ruined the viola,” she remembered. “I looked around for stringed instruments that I could take with me and I didn’t want to play guitar. My hands are too small. I couldn’t get my hand around the neck of the instrument. I tried the ukulele and I was like, ‘Oh wow! I like this a lot.’”

And so the ukulele became her instrument of choice. It has come with her to a wide-array of gigs around Casper and it has really differentiated her from all of the other wonderful local musicians. Another thing that makes Podjun stand out from the pack is her style of writing. Not content to just play cover songs, Podjun loves writing and performing her own music. She loves telling stories.

“My songs are very story-based,” she admitted. “I love stories so, in a lot of my songs, you’ll hear different perspectives from different people.”

She continued, saying that she “want[s] [the audience] to be able to hear what I’m saying, so words are very important to me. If they can visualize what I’m singing, then that’d be great. If they can just go home and think ‘Wow! That’s a really awesome adventure that person went on. I can see it and I can see myself doing it.’”

Podjun, at a very young age, saw herself as a performer. She followed the path that had been written for her and found something inside of herself that not everybody finds. She found passion. She found music. She found love, not only for music but, most importantly, for herself.

“Dyslexia has shown me that it’s okay to do things a little different,” she stated. “It’s okay to ask for help. I still struggle with asking for help; I always have. But with music and the dyslexia, sometimes I’ll get upset because music is the same thing as reading and it’s the same thing as math. I struggle. I get things wrong. I’ll play something backwards, I’ll mess up my own words. That’s the hardest thing; when you write your own phrase and then you mess it up. But I keep going.”

She keeps going. She will continue to keep going, playing as many gigs inside and outside of The District as she can. She will continue to write songs and she will continue to tell stories. She’ll continue to share her story, as well, because she wants younger kids to know that they are not defined by their disability. Podjun is passionate about her music, but she is even more passionate about instilling love, for music and for themselves, to children. That passion led to a teaching job with Vibes Performing Arts, in Casper. Suddenly, the girl that hated school is now a teacher herself, and she loves it.

“Working at Vibes is a really interesting experience and it’s one of the best experiences, I think, that will teach me about music and the impact that it has on others,” she shared. “Music had such a strong impact on me, it’s important for me to want to pass that on. I always said I never wanted to be a teacher, but I just kept coming back to it. I really love it. The people there are amazing and so talented and so driven. They work so hard and I feel really lucky to be there.”

Maybe luck has played a hand in Lauren Podjun’s life. But, as Billy Zane once said, a real man (or woman) makes his (or her!) own luck. That’s what Lauren did. She took a dream and turned it into a reality. She took a disability and turned it into a teaching tool.

More than anything, she took a love for music and she turned it into a story.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing someone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

For those of us living in Downtown Casper, there have been many advantages- especially in regards to holiday parties. Restaurants, bars and shops in The District are always quick to get into the Holiday Spirit, and the beginning of 2019 will be no different, as several businesses in The District are putting on New Year’s Eve parties that you wouldn’t believe.

The first party being thrown actually takes place 2 days before New Year’s Eve, as the Yellowstone Bar & Grill presents a ‘Gatsby New Year’s Party.’ As the name suggests, this party will be an homage to the 1925 novel ‘The Great Gatsby.’ From 8pm-Midnight, guests are invited to come party like it’s the 1920’s with food, drink, music and more. They encourage the public to “bring your favorite dance partner and jazz it up to our roaring 20’s playlist.”

This is not the party to dress casually, either. There will be costume contests determining the “best-dressed of the era,’ which means no jeans and t-shirts for you. It’s not mandatory, but it is highly expected that men dress to the 9’s and women don pearls and fur, because the winners of the “Best Dressed Couple” will receive 2 free tickets to the Postmodern Jukebox show coming to Casper early next year.

This is the best chance to score free tickets to an amazing show, and to welcome back the “Roaring 20’s” a year early! Don’t let the cummerbunds and sequins fool you, people in the 20’s really knew how to party.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/505817776603986/

 

Speaking of parties, nobody throws a party like Racca’s Pizzeria, especially on New Year’s Eve. This year will be no different as they are putting on a show like nothing you’ve ever seen before. On Monday, December 31st from 7pm-1am, Racca’s turns into Time Square as they present their annual “Solid Gold New Year’s Eve Party.” A flat rate of $89 per ticket (which includes tax and gratuity!), buys you a night of endless food, drinks, dancing and fun!

Racca’s always serves some of the best pizzas and other Italian foods in Casper, and they’ll be showing off some new meals as well as some classic favorites on this night. Additionally, Backwards Distilling Company will be on hand, serving up their delicious, signature cocktails. In case you don’t understand, it’s an OPEN BAR, which is the best kind of bar in our opinion. And Racca’s isn’t just serving you the well vodka and Miller Light, either. They’re breaking out the good stuff so, for one night, you can live like the 1%.

DJ Chris Pfaff will be playing tunes all night so get ready for an incredible night full of dancing, drinking and minimal thinking. Racca’s is most certainly the party to be at on New Year’s Eve.

For ticket information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/479094839281208/

 

If there’s a party to be had, there is very little doubt that the Gaslight Social won’t be involved. New Year’s Eve will be no different, as the Gaslight is hosting their annual New Year’s Eve Soiree. Beginning at 8pm and lasting far past midnight, the Gaslight will be throwing a party for the ages. DJ Whyte Choc will be on hand, spinning records and showing vibrant images on Gaslight’s EPIC 6ft x 9ft Screen. There will be tons of free New Year’s Eve swag and giveaways, as well as complimentary champagne at midnight.

Speaking of champagne, bottles of bubbly are being sold for only $12 (for Ballatore), $16 (for Asti) or $30 (Magnum Asti). In addition to bottle popping, Gaslight will also offer $5 Patron shots, $4 Jameson shots and $3 Fireball shots. Now that’s a countdown we can get behind.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/barcadeatery/photos/a.256560474862973/529003080952043/?type=3&theater

This is a party that you certainly do not want to miss, so check out the Gaslight Social on December 31st.

 

The Office Bar & Grill is looking to get in on the New Year’s action as well. They’ll be doing exactly that as they present their own New Year’s Eve Party. The Office is starting early, opening their doors at 4:30pm with a performance from the Chris Whitten Band. They’ll be rocking the Office stage from 4:30-8:30 but then The Office will be busting out their signature Karaoke setup for patrons to sing and dance the night, as well as 2018, away.

The Office, too, will be giving out tons of free swag and merch and, as always, there will be a champagne toast at midnight. If last year was a rough one at work, usher in 2019 at an Office you actually want to be in.

 

Of course, New Year’s Eve isn’t solely about drinking and dancing. It also provides one more holiday excuse for over-indulging with food, and there is no better place to do that than at the David Street Station. For the 2nd year in a row, DSS is present it’s (now annual!) ‘Noon Year’s Mac N Cheese Festival.’ Yes, you heard that right- an entire festival dedicated to Macaroni and Cheese. This event takes place on Monday, December 31st from 11am-1pm and it is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It’s something for the whole family to experience together and, if you’re lucky, the kids will slip into a food coma shortly afterward, allowing you to go spend the evening at Racca’s!

So far, participating businesses include:

C85 Wonder Bar

Eggingtons

HQ BBQ

JC Burgers

More vendors are expected to sign up, and all are hoping to dethrone HQ BBQ as the Mac & Cheese Master. We don’t see that happening, but we’re anxious to find out!

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/257448864927020/?active_tab=about

There is a myriad of events taking place during the New Year’s Eve Weekend, and there is no better place to ring in the New Year than in The District.

Nick Carraway noted that he “spent my Saturday nights in New York, because those gleaming, dazzling parties of [Gatsby’s] were with me so vividly, that I could still hear the music and the laughter, faint and incessant, from his garden, and the cars going up and down his drive. One night I did hear a material car there and saw its lights stop at his front steps. But I didn’t investigate. Probably it was some final guest who had been away at the ends of the earth and didn’t know the party was over.”

The party may have been over for Nick Carraway and his dear friend, Jay Gatsby. But the party is just starting for you and me. This New Year’s Eve, the party starts in The District.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

See the video here!
https://youtu.be/Wmq-3dkVSus

 

On the first day of The District, my true love gave to me

A David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 2nd day of The District, my true love gave to me

Two C85’s and a David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 3rd day of The District, my true love gave to me

A new Tamron lens, two C85’s and a David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 4th day of The District, my true love gave to me

Four Science Zone nerds, a new Tamron lens, two C85’s and a David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 5th day of The District, my true love gave to me

Frosty’s Onion Rings

Four Science Zone nerds, a new Tamron lens, two C85’s and a David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 6th day of The District, my true love gave to me

Six musicians playing

Frosty’s Onion Rings

Four Science Zone nerds, a new Tamron lens, two C85’s

And a David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 7th day of The District, my true love gave to me

The Office Bar & Grilling, Six musicians playing

Frosty’s Onion Rings

Four Science Zone nerds, a new Tamron lens, two C85’s

And A David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 8th day of The District, my true love gave to me

1890 Stitching, The Office Bar & Grilling, Six musicians playing

Frosty’s Onion Rings

Four Science Zone nerds, a new Tamron lens, two C85’s

And A David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 9th day of The District, my true love gave to me

Gaslight ladies dancing, 1890 Stitching, The Office Bar & Grilling , Six Musicians playing

Frosty’s Onion Rings

Four Science Zone nerds, a new Tamron lens, Two C85’s

And A David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 10th day of The District, my true love gave to me

Coffee to stop me sleeping

Gaslight ladies dancing, 1890 Stitching, The Office Bar & Grilling, Six Musicians Playing

Frosty’s Onion Rings

Four Science Zone Nerds, a New Tamron Lens, Two C85’s

And A David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 11th day of The District, my true love gave to me

Eleven Bottles Popping

Coffee to Stop Me Sleeping, Gaslight Ladies Dancing, 1890 Stitching, The Office Bar & Grilling, Six Musicians Playing

Frosty’s Onion Rings

Four Science Zone Nerds, a New Tamron Lens, Two C85’s

And A David Street Station Christmas Tree

On the 12th day of The District, my true love gave to me

Twelve Pizzas Bubbling

Eleven Bottles Popping, Coffee to Stop Me Sleeping, Gaslight Ladies Dancing, 1890 Stitching, The Office Bar & Grilling, Six Musicians Playing

Frosty’s Onion Rings

Four Science Zone Nerds, a New Tamron Lens, Two C85’s

And A David Street Station Christmas Tree

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

The Holiday Season is in full swing and if you, like us, have yet to buy anybody Christmas presents, do not stress. If you were patient and wise, you completely skipped Black Friday and all of its subsidiary days designed to promote hella consumerism. You’ve taken your stand against the evil corporations and all their commercials and wage gaps. You should be proud of yourself. Take a deep breath, stick out your chest and stand proud that you have stood up to “The Man.”

Feel better? Good. Except, now it’s almost Christmas and you don’t have anything yet. Relax. Take another deep breath. Downtown Casper is full of shops that allow you to spend your money on people you care about, without breaking the bank and contributing to the deterioration of your mental state. There is truly something for everybody in The District and if you’re wondering about where to buy what for whom, we have got you covered. The District is home to clothing stores, sporting goods, photography equipment and more!

With that, let’s take a world tour through the shops of The District.

 

Where: 1890 Screen & Stitch (411 West Yellowstone Highway)
What: High-quality, hand-stitched and embroidered clothing, as well as screen print, sign and graphic design studio. 1890 is a local studio with a big-city feel. Everybody involved with 1890 takes their job seriously. It just so happens that their job is really, really fun. They can make t-shirts, hats and other kinds of apparel, as well as various signage, screen prints and more.

For Whom: Somebody that is proud to call Wyoming WyHomeing. Somebody that likes original print work and apparel that is hand stitched and embroidered with love.  They have clothing for men, women and children. In fact, they could probably embroider a sweater for your cat…if you’re one of the monsters that are actually into that kind of thing.

 

Where: Bush-Wells Sporting Goods (500 South Center St.)
What: Casper’s longest-running sports equipment and apparel store. This is the place to buy equipment, shoes, shirts, jackets, hats and more; all of which are screen printed and embroidered with the logo of your choice.

For Whom: Your athletic children who are on any type of little league or miniature football league. If you’re trying to push sports on your children in order to relive your glory days of being pretty good but never quite making it to the majors, this is the place to dress them. Bush-Wells has been around since 1963 and anybody who has lived in Casper for a few years knows their theme song by heart. This is the place to go for all of the athletes in your house.

 

Where: Wyoming Camera Outfitters (128 W. 2nd Street)
What: Casper’s largest camera outfitter. WCO offers the latest equipment from Canon, Tamron and more. From cameras to lenses, to tripods, lights and more, Wyoming Camera Outfitters is “truly a unique camera store with old-fashioned service but at internet prices.” WCO also proudly offers various classes, training workshops and more. They even have a portrait studio to take all of your future Christmas Card Photos.

For Whom: Your other kid, who is less athletic and more…creatively inclined. WCO is for the artist/photographer of the family who wants to capture every moment and only slightly resents you for going to all of your kid’s football games, but none of your other kid’s gallery shows. Make up for all that lost time by purchasing a beautiful camera with comparable prices. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy cameras that document happiness, which is basically the same thing.

 

Where: Cooper’s Makeup and Clothing (241 South Center Street, Suite 200)
What: Medium to high-end clothing, accessories and makeup for any occasion. Cooper’s belongs in a big city like Denver or even New York City. The clothing and accessories this store has could be found on any Paris walkway, but you won’t have to sell your soul to pay for it. While Cooper’s is a high-end boutique, their prices are not outrageous. Their quality, however, is. It’s outrageously good.

For Whom: The fashion-conscious person in your family or circle of friends. We all have that person. They show up to every family gathering or night out in the coolest clothing that only sort of makes you look at your own clothes with disgust. This is the perfect place to shop for mom, sister, daughter, finding-himself-son, girlfriend or even yourself. Look, Christmas is a time for giving, but it’s also a time to show everybody you care about how successful and beautiful you are. With clothing from Cooper’s, you are guaranteed to drop jaws as much as they drop prices.

 

Where: Goedicke’s Custom Framing & Art Supply (120 West 2nd Street)
What: An art supply store that doubles as an art gallery. Goedickes (as part of Scarlow’s Gallery) offers a wide array of art supplies, including canvases, paints, brushes and oh-so-much more. In addition to the supplies sold at Goedicke’s, they also offer custom framing for paintings and the various photographs that your neglected but extremely talented child takes.

For Whom: The artist in the family. It’s easy to go to a Super Store or to consult the internet for art supplies. Some are literally a dime a dozen. But if you want to show your artist how much you love them and believe in them, you want to shop at Goedicke’s. They are locally-owned and have been around since 1955. There’s a history to this art supply store and it is that history, along with the vast assortment of supplies, which has kept it in the heart of the District for 50+ years.

 

Where: Mountain Sports (543 S Center Street)
What: One of Casper’s largest outdoor sports shops. Mountain Sports first opened their doors in July of 1973 and they have been offering skis, tennis rackets, camping equipment and more ever since. As the business continued to evolve to meet the needs of their customers, they began including other types of equipment for skateboarding, windsurfing, snowboarding, trail running and mountain biking. Mountain Sports is truly the “Outdoor Fun Headquarters” for everybody in The District.

For Whom: We just said they’re for everybody in The District. More specifically, this is the place to shop for the outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman) in the family. These are the ones that wake up at the crack of dawn to climb a mountain or to ski the Alps. It’s also the place to shop for your annoying kid who skateboards on private property, despite signs warning them of potential consequences. It’s even for the people who, worst of all, like to run for fun. Mountain Sports is for the trailblazer in your family and nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like a new mountain bike. You remember the first time you got a bike for Christmas. Mountain Sports gives you the chance to repeat that special moment with kids of your own.

 

Where: Urban Bottle (410 South Ash Street)
What: A unique, boutique wine, beer, and spirits shop. Urban Bottle calls itself a “liquor store love story” and that story is told with every bottle of wine or locally-produced spirits that t offers. Urban Bottle features a wide variety of cocktails that are guaranteed to add a little sass and a little class to your holiday party. Urban Bottle features spirits from Backwards Distillery, as well as various beers that were brewed all across Wyoming. Urban Bottle is the best place to go for a welcoming gift, a holiday gift, or a “he just broke up with you and I don’t have anything encouraging to say but hey, let’s get drunk” gift.

For Whom: The uncle in your family who most of you believe have a drinking problem but he’s just so damn funny when he gets a couple cocktails in him so you continue to be an enabler.

 

Those are just some of the shops located within The District. There are also a number of places that offer gift cards for the people in your life that are just so hard to shop for. If you don’t know what to get that special person in your life for Christmas, get them a gift certificate from Spruce Nail Bar, Southern Flare Lash, the Sandtrap Golf Simulation and. The District truly offers something for everybody and now, instead of being run over by hordes of zombies or mindlessly clicking through online deals, you can buy something for everybody on your list while experiencing the natural beauty of Downtown Casper.

We’ve given you a list of what to buy, and for whom to buy it. The only thing you have to do is shop local and make memories in The District.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

‘I had an inheritance from my father- it was the moon and the sun. And though I roam all over the world, the spending of it’s never done.’
Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

“The stars are out tonight,” he thought to himself as he pulled up to the old motel with the vacancy sign lit. “That’s good.”
He got out of his car, which had been his father’s, and took a drink. It was an expensive bottle of bourbon; the first one he had ever bought from the top shelf. He wiped his mouth, took a breath and went inside. He paid the man at the counter for one night’s stay- it was all he needed. He thanked the man, took the key and walked to his room. It was one he had seen a thousand times before. The cities changed but this room never did. It made sense, then, that this would be the place to do it. He sat on the edge of the bed and flipped through the bible that had been left, presumably, by the Gideons. They were always good for that; trying to save the souls of the people who inhabited these lonely hotel rooms. What the Gideons didn’t understand, he thought, was that, sometimes, souls just aren’t worth saving. He took another drink and then reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun. This, like the car he was driving, had been his father’s. His dad didn’t have much, but when he died, he left behind the car, the gun, and a guitar. At first, he hated that guitar. It was a reminder of what he lost when his father died. Eventually, he started to see the beauty of it, and he took it on the road with him. He played songs and he told stories and he met people with tales that could make a grown man cry.
He tried not to think of those people now. They would be disappointed, sure. But they would move on. Everybody moves on. The sun also rises.
He took one last drink and checked the barrel of the gun. One bullet. It was all he needed.
He took a look out the window and saw the moon and the stars and he smiled. This won’t be a big story. Just another life taken by a lone gunman.
He put the gun to his head with shaky hands and thought to himself, ‘I’ll be damned if I cry.”

Dan Johnson didn’t intend on being a musician. In fact, for a while, he hated music. It reminded him too much of his father. Years previously, Johnson’s father, a veteran, had taken his own life. Like with many veterans, the experiences and images of war didn’t go away as soon as the elder Johnson stepped foot back on American soil. Those images stay with you long after the war ends and the medals are awarded. They’re like nightmares you can’t wake up from until, finally, they become too much and you don’t even want to be awake anymore. That’s what happened with Johnson’s father and it’s what happens, all too often, with many of our veterans. When Johnson’s dad died, he left behind a lot of unanswered questions; questions that it would take years for Johnson to fully comprehend, like what drives a man to take his own life? How desperate for an escape does somebody have to be? It would be years before Dan Johnson fully understood the reasoning behind his dad’s death. His dad left behind a lot of unanswered questions, but he also left behind a guitar. That guitar would change Johnson’s life.

“I got involved with music because my dad was a guitar player and a singer and he’s the one that taught me to play guitar, sing, play the drums and he started me on the piano before he died,” Johnson said.

“Honestly, after he died, I gave it up. I put it away because it reminded me too much of him. And then, when I was a teenager, that song ‘Tears in Heaven,’ by Eric Clapton came out and it just really, really got to me that he wrote that song about his little boy dying and it made me think about how emotionally impactful music could be, so I got my dad’s old guitar out and started playing again, mainly so I could learn to play that song.”

He did learn to play that song, along with a myriad of others. But it wasn’t enough. So he started writing and playing his own songs. But it wasn’t enough. Johnson knew he had talent but he didn’t want to just play “for kicks.” He wanted to create something that could impact somebody like ‘Tears in Heaven’ impacted him. He wanted to change lives; he wanted to save lives.

So he started writing.

Now, Johnson is in the middle of a 64-city tour that he’s calling Operation: Hemingway. The name comes from, unsurprisingly, a deep respect and admiration for Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was a prolific writer but he was also a veteran. Unfortunately, Hemingway took his own life as well, on July 2, 1961. While the stories Hemingway wrote were incredible, it was his ‘real’ life that Johnson was most interested in.

“I enjoy Hemingway the character, the man he was, much more than his literature,” Johnson said. “I’ve read several of the things that he’s written, but what really is more of an inspiration to me is what a huge life he had. From the war that he fought in, to the women that he loved, to the traveling that he did and the hunting and the fishing and the boxing- the guy just had a huge life.”

It was Hemingway’s life that inspired Johnson, but his death did as well.

“This guy had such a huge life, he got to the end of it and then he killed himself,” he continued. “What was going on in his head?”

That was the question Johnson was thinking about when he wrote the song “Hemingway.” Coincidentally, Johnson was actually sitting in the study of Ernest Hemingway’s home in Key West when he wrote that song.  From the song, which focused on a young soldier with a penchant for drinking, fighting and telling stories, grew an idea for an entire movement.

Johnson had thought of a way to not only play music but to help veterans who are struggling with PTSD, depression and suicidal ideations. He calls it ‘Operation: Hemingway.’

‘Operation: Hemingway’ includes a CD, a book and the aforementioned tour. All of it is designed to raise awareness and funds for veterans to no longer fall through the cracks. With the recording of his CD and the writing of his book, Johnson wanted to hear and tell the stories of veterans. It’s a monumental project, but it’s one that Johnson is committed to finishing.

“It took about 3 years to do the whole thing,” Johnson admitted. “It’s definitely the biggest project I’ve ever worked on.”

In addition to the recording of his EP and the publishing of his book, Johnson also committed to a year-long, 68 city tour- a tour that led him right into the heart of The District. Johnson played a low-key gig at the Metro Coffee Shop on a cold November evening, and he shared some of the stories he has heard from all over the country, as well as some stories of his own. One of those stories inspired his song “The Lone Gunman’s Lament,” and for anybody who has ever had a parent that has killed themselves, or who has struggled with depression themselves, the inspiration behind it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“There’s a song on the album called ‘The Lone Gunman’s Lament,’” Johnson began. “It’s a song that I wrote, actually, one day when I was in the middle of trying to kill myself. It was a very important moment in my life because it took me getting to that point myself before I could finally understand how my dad got so bad off. [When I was younger], I was so angry and I thought it was such a hugely selfish thing for him to do until I got there myself and I realized ‘Oh, that’s how you get to that point and feel like this is the only thing that you’ve got left.’ It really changed a lot of my outlook, getting to that point myself.”

Johnson continued, saying that he was “honestly thankful that I went through that, and I’m thankful for the song that came out of it. The album finishes with that song because, in the song, I kill off the bad guy. It was a therapeutic song for me because I made up my mind that I wouldn’t ever take myself out of this world.”

Now that Johnson had really gone to the depths of his soul, searching for peace and finally finding it, he committed himself even further to help those who needed it most. While the VA Hospital attempts to treat medical issues, Johnson wanted to focus his efforts on the mental health of veterans.

“What we really focus on is day-to-day self and healing,” he said. “That can be things like hunting and fishing retreats. There’s a group by Y’all called ‘Healing Waters,’ which creates fly-fishing retreats for vets. We look for things like that that get people actively involved in a group. Another one that we really work a lot on, and we raise money for, is service dogs, which has been extremely effective.”

In addition to the retreats and service dogs, Johnson has also started working with a group that seems to be right out of his wheelhouse.

“Soldier Songs and Voices teaches [veterans how to play] guitar and how to write songs,” Johnson stated. “It’s very therapeutic for them to get those stories out there in the form of pretty songs. [Negative thoughts] lose all of their power and all of their negativity over a person when, all of a sudden, it’s just a pretty song.”

The proceeds of the ‘Operation: Hemingway” tour all go back to these organizations.

“I’ve committed a year of my life to [touring]. When I’m on the road, I don’t keep the money from the shows or anything. I basically just have hotel and meal, little per diems for whatever, but all of the money goes back into either group that we’re raising money for or additional materials. I’ve gone through a thousand of our little information cards.”

Those information cards give veterans key takeaways to find help for their depression and PTSD. Johnson said that another thing that helps, something we could all do, is to just listen to some of these veteran’s stories.

“There’s never a show that goes by that I don’t have some very meaningful interactions with someone who’s lost a friend or a family member, or a veteran who has tried to commit suicide or, at least, thought about it real hard. That interaction is exactly what I set out to do and that has been working perfectly.”

There have been struggles, of course. The loneliness of the road and the emotional toll that hearing some of these stories can take on a man are hard. But Johnson remains committed.

”I’ve had many grown men hold onto me and just cry on my shoulder. It really can be emotionally trying, but if this is what it takes, I’ll do it. If somebody could have done this for my dad, it would have meant the world to me and so I’ll keep trying to do this for other people.”

Dan Johnson never wanted to be a musician. He never wanted to be rich or famous or well-known. When he picked up that guitar after his dad died, he was just looking for some closure. He was looking for a way to help others. More than anything, he was looking for a way to connect with his father and use what happened to create something positive. And that’s exactly what he did.

“The purpose of Operation: Hemingway is to show people that it’s okay to want to stop living with pain, but that doesn’t mean you should transfer it to everyone else. You have to find a way to live without pain, without dying.”

He wasn’t thinking about any of that at the moment, however. At the time, Dan Johnson didn’t think anything would get better. He was lost and he was lonely and he was scared of the unknown. He didn’t see any sort of light at the end of the tunnel and he just needed an escape.

Which is why he found himself in a beaten-down hotel room, with a bottle of bourbon in his left hand and a gun in his right. He was just about to pull the trigger when he heard a voice.

“What are you doing?” the voice asked.

Astonished, Johnson put the gun down and rubbed his eyes. He had to have been dreaming or imagining, or maybe he was just drunk. Because that voice belonged to his father.

“What are you doing?” the voice asked again. Out of the shadows, stood a man, dressed to the 9’s in his military uniform.

“I can’t…I just…I don’t know,” Johnson said, eyes wide with disbelief.

“You do know,” his father said. “You know how this is going to end, and it’s not with a bullet in your head or a bunch of pills in your stomach.

“That’s not how your story ends, son. That’s not how our story ends. So you’re going to put down the gun. You’re going to put down the bottle. You’re going to pick up that pen and you are going to tell our story, the way it’s meant to be told. You’re going to save lives, kid.”

Johnson stood up, with tears in his eyes and, whether this was a dream or a hallucination, he was going to embrace his father one last time.

“I’m so sorry,” Johnson said.

“Don’t be,” his father replied. “I didn’t teach you to live in the past. I taught you to look forward. Always look forward. You are going to change the world, son. And I want you to always remember how proud I am of you. And I want you to always, always remember how much I love you.”

And with that, his father was gone. Johnson was alone now, in the hotel room, with the moon shining through the open window. He allowed himself a few moments to cry, but then he wiped away the tears, sat down at the desk and, as the sun started to rise over the horizon, Dan Johnson picked up a pen. And then he started writing.

For more information on how you can get involved with Operation: Hemingway, visit https://www.operationhemingway.org/
To order or download Dan Johnson’s ‘Hemingway,” visit https://www.hemingwayalbum.com/

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

 

‘Twas the month before Christmas, when all ‘cross Downtown

There were people smiling and laughing, not a frown to be found;

The bright lights were hung round the District with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The people were nestled all snug in their coats,

While the David Street Station raised its hand to a toast;

Their Ice Rink was open, their Christmas tree LIT

Santa should have been there, but he just couldn’t fit

There were people for miles, they lined all the streets

The Christmas Parade provided plenty of treats

There was singing and dancing, and laughter all evening

The reindeer were flying; the sleigh bells were ringing

There were Grinches and angels and all sorts of floats

It was the best celebration the District could host

Downtown Casper was a powerful sight

‘Twas a Merry Christmas for all; we all had a good night

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

 

6 years ago, your beloved writer of all things District was in a much different place. While he was still an amazing writer, in addition to being incredibly humble, he spent much of his time drinking instead of writing. 6 years ago, I was beginning a very short-lived descent into alcoholism. That journey resulted in many hangovers, much regret and way-too-many brushes with the Law. I first wrote this article after I got my very 1st DUI. I believed it when I wrote it. I just didn’t learn anything from it, because I would proceed to get 2 more DUI’s in the following years.

Eventually, I realized that my drinking career was going to end in one of two ways: either I was going to die, or I was going to kill somebody else.  Something needed to change and, though it took me a long time to actually do it, I decided to stop drinking completely. It’s been about 4 years since I stopped drinking and it’s taken a lot of work, both outwardly and inwardly, to get back to a place of “normalcy.” For me, drinking just isn’t an option anymore. For others, drinking is an incredibly fun past time and most people can do it responsibly.

For those people, there are a variety of bars and restaurants in The District. Bars like the Gaslight Social, the Wonder Bar, the Office Bar & Grill, Frosty’s and more are great places to spend time with friends. Restaurants like the Branding Iron and Racca’s Pizzeria offer awesome food and incredible cocktails. But, for our sake and for yours, please drink responsibly. Also, take it from your old Uncle Nick- whatever you do, don’t drink and drive.

If you do, this is what will happen.

2:00 AM: You leave a bar with a pretty girl who you have no doubt impressed with your wit and charm, and you’re sure that you will undoubtedly be able to kiss her tonight. This is less because she’s actually into you, and more because when you’re drunk, you think everyone is into you.

2:10 AM: You notice the flashing lights behind you and have a panic attack. You’ve never gotten a DUI before, but you know that you’re about to. Sadly, this monumental moment is not something you’re looking forward to.

2:11 AM: The officer walks up to your window and sternly asks you to roll it down. You know the question isn’t really a question. You comply.

2:12 AM: The officer asks you if you’ve been drinking. You tell him that no you have not. You’re not sure exactly why you do this. The man is a police officer for a reason. He’s smarter than you. And he deals with drunken douche bags like you all the time. Yet you still maintain that you haven’t been drinking. He asks you why your car was swerving so badly. Your response: “I’m just a really bad driver.” This is true, but he still knows you’re drunk. He asks you to come out of the car to take some field sobriety tests. You’ve seen this on Cops before. You can beat the law. You are not afraid.

2:20 AM: You should have been afraid. You can’t beat the law. The law actually made you its bitch in short order. You did ok following his light with your eyes. But when it came time to walk a straight line, you weren’t even sure which foot was your right or left. Eventually, you just give up, look at the officer, and say “Obviously, I’m drunk.” He agrees in a tone that strikes you as condescending. Your third and final test is a breathalyzer. You’ve never done one of these before, so you’re a little bit excited. Your excitement dissipates when you realize that the breathalyzer is not your friend. In fact, it is going to be the thing that sends you to jail. You hate the breathalyzer.

2:21 AM: You blow a .130. This is almost twice the legal limit allowed to operate a motor vehicle. You’re scared.

2:22 AM: Your arms are handcuffed behind your back, and you are escorted into the back of a police car.

2:24 AM: You watch the girl who you were so desperately trying to impress walk into the nearby Loaf N Jug to wait for a ride home. You will probably never see her again.

2:25 AM: You try to make conversation with the officer as he’s driving you towards the worst night of your life. Luckily, you’re a charming, likable guy. You make small talk, make him laugh, try to reassure yourself that you’re not a terrible person by asking him if this happens a lot. He assures you that it does, which is good for your peace of mind but it depresses you anyway.

2:40 AM: You pull into the Natrona County Correctional Facility. You’re still scared. You get out of the car and continue making wisecracks with your arresting officer. You feel like if you weren’t the criminal and he wasn’t the police officer, you two would be besties.

2:45 AM: Your new BFF is now patting you down. You tell him to “watch your hands; I’ve seen this movie before buddy.” In retrospect, you’re not quite sure what you even meant by that, or why you called an officer of the law ‘buddy,’ but he laughed nonetheless.

2:50 AM: You’re asked to take off all but one of your shirts. You’re fashionable, so you wear a lot of layers. You thank God that you’re wearing your Pepsi shirt and not your Miley Cyrus one.

2:55 AM: You’re asked to use the breathalyzer again. This is how many people avoid getting a DUI. Unfortunately, you drank more than many people.

2:56 AM: Yep, you’re still too drunk to drive.

3:00 AM: You are brought into processing and immediately decide you’re going to make all of these people like you.

3:01 AM: You’re asked to stand in front of a camera to get your mugshot taken. You ask the processor if “it’s more douchey to smile or not smile?” She tells you not to smile.

3:10 AM: You are being fingerprinted. For some reason, you decide it would be a good idea to hit on the processor. You look at her as she’s holding your hand down and say, “Whoa! My arms look really toned right now huh?” Surprisingly, she agrees. You have just hit on the police officer-type-person that is about to put you in jail.

3:11 AM: You are put into a holding cell because you are too tired to even pursue getting bailed out. Plus, it’s 3:00 in the morning and everyone you know is asleep. Cause it’s a Monday f*ckin morning.

3:15 AM: You lay on your shitty mattress pad under your shitty blanket, thinking about the shitty decision that you made. This is the first of many times in the next 12 hours that you will reflect on your life and the direction that it could have been heading. It is also the first of many times you will say, out loud, that “you’re a f*cking idiot.”

*The following times are estimated, as there are very few clocks in jail

6:30 AM: You are woken by a man telling you to put on jail clothes. This is typical prison fair- orange jumpsuit (apparatus?) and crocs. You look at yourself for the first time in a mirror. Your first thought: You are now a criminal. For sure. You have the dress and everything. Your second thought: You’re super glad the shirt you’re wearing is a V-neck. You wish you had a necklace to accentuate it.

7:00 AM: You’re offered breakfast but you refuse. You have resigned yourself to the fact that you will starve before you eat jail food.

12:00 PM: You’re offered lunch but you still refuse. Your will will not be broken.

1:30 PM: You are told it is now time for your court appearance. You are led through a cold hallway with numerous fellow inmates. You would not be surprised to get beaten up. Luckily, you’re charming, so you actually make friends with a few of them. Relief washes over you in an awesome wave.

1:35 PM: You are handcuffed, your feet are shackled, and your cuffs are locked to some weird mechanism attached to your waste. This seems a bit extreme, and the thought crosses your mind that you somehow got mixed in with the more…violent criminals. You try to think of a way to bring this topic up without offending your fellow inmates, but before you can, you’re told to get on the van which will transport you to the court.

1:37 PM: You are now in a very enclosed space with criminals. They all seem to be curious about what each other are “in” for. They look at you.  You contemplate telling them that you went on a violent killing spree, but remember that eventually you’ll have to tell the judge what you did, and then you will look like a douche. Well, more of a douche. You silently mumble ‘DUI.’ These hardened criminals make you feel better for the first time in nearly twelve hours. They all tell you it’s not a big deal; they’ve all done worse, blah blah blah. The fact is, it IS a big deal. It’s a huge deal. But you breathe a sigh of relief anyway.

1:45 PM: You are ushered into a cell to await your trial. Your cellmates make small talk about different women they have slept with.

1:50 PM: You’re not very hung over, and you haven’t eaten anything for nearly 24 hours. But for some reason, your stomach feels extremely nauseous. You think water will help. You go to the sink and gorge yourself on water. This was a mistake.

1:51 PM: You’re going to throw up. You know this now. You apologize to your cellmates. “Sorry guys,” you say as you get in your knees in front of the toilet. This is a process in and of itself because you have enough hardware attached to yourself to make Hannibal Lecter say, “Really, guys?” You finally are comfortable enough to settle into throw up mode. But then, because you’re you, the bailiff comes to bring you all into the courtroom. You look at him in between vomiting and ask if he can come back. He agrees, but you can tell he is quite amused, and you will become a legend of these halls.

2:00 PM: You have puked up nothing but water, but you feel a million times better. You are ready to take on the world.

2:05 PM: The bailiff comes and takes you into the courtroom. You immediately notice a cute girl sitting in the back of the courtroom. You immediately realize that now that you are a criminal, you are immediately more desirable to women. The judge enters; you stand, and try to make eye contact with Your Honor. You fail.

3:00 PM: You have been sitting in the same chair, in the same position for an hour. You have listened to some of the most inane stories from people. One lady insisted that she had to get back home to her children, as she is the only one who can take care of them. Immediately the line from Liar Liar comes to you. “STOP BREAKING THE  LAW ASSHOLE.”  This makes you giggle to yourself. The bailiff hushes you.

3:30 PM: It’s finally your turn. You stand up, answer all of the preliminary questions with “yes Your Honor,” and try not to let your knees buckle. The judge tells you what you are being brought up on and asks you if you are guilty or not guilty. You’re guilty, so you say that you’re guilty. You find out later that this probably wasn’t a good idea. That notwithstanding, you continue to plead your case. You tell the judge that you’ve never really been in trouble with the law (true), you rarely drink (mostly true), and you’re never going to do anything like this again (totally true). You tell him that this has only happened once, but that one time is all it takes to kill someone, or yourself.

3:35 PM: Evidently, you have charmed the judge with your wit, charm, and naivety. He offers you a PR bond, which basically means he likes and trusts you enough to come back to your sentencing hearing, so you won’t have to actually pay any money to get out of jail.  You’re not quite sure what it meant at first, you ask him to repeat it.

Judge: I am giving you a PR bond for $1,000 and telling you to get an ASI test.

You: So…you know I plead guilty right?

Judge: Uh, yes.

You: So I have to pay the $1,000 to get out?

Judge: No, you’re being bonded out by your own personal recognizance.

You: Right…which means what again?

Judge: *Sigh* it means as long as you promise that you will come to your sentencing hearing, you are free to go for now.

You: Which means I don’t have to pay anything right? But I’m still getting released?… Sorry, I’m new at this.

Judge: YES.

You realize he’s about to change the terms of the bail, so you sit down and shut up.

5:00 PM: You re finally released! You get to put on your old clothes, your own underwear, and your beanie. Your precious beanie. You’re given your cell phone and your car keys. You are so close to freedom.

5:15 PM: As you’re waiting for a ride to pick you up, scary Mexican man with the tattoo on his face comes up to you. You’re scared. Please don’t shank me. He looks at you and asks, “Hey man, do you think you could give me a ride?” You consider the options. 1) You say no and he stabs you. 2) You say yes, and he stabs you and the person giving you a ride.  3) You don’t say anything and run out of the building as fast as you can.  You contemplate 3 for a while, but then decide that you will indeed give him a ride.

5:30 PM: You chuckle at the face your friend gives you as you walk to her car with a scary Mexican man with a tattoo on his face in tow. “Hey, can we give him a ride?” She says “Uh, sure.” You get in the car and proceed to revel in the awkward silence.

6:30 PM: You drop off scary Mexican man with a tattoo on his face at his destination. You talked on the drive and realized that he’s probably not a murderer. Well, he’s at least not YOUR murderer. You drop him off, give him $20 for some food, and take down his number. If you’re ever in a gang fight, you know who you’ll be calling.

7:00 PM: You are at home, on your bed, eating a triple cheeseburger and fries. You can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

That was the first DUI. Subsequent offenses result in more money, more jail time and more disapproving looks from family members at Thanksgiving. One DUI can destroy your life; not to mention the lives of those you could have killed. That’s something I tell myself every day. It’s one of my biggest regrets. It took me a long time to learn from my mistakes, but I finally did. I implore you to take this article to heart.

The District is full of fun places to eat, drink and make memories. Don’t let getting a DUI be one of them.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

The desert was a vast and emotionless place; one that exists, seemingly, only in a dream. As the gunslinger gave chase, the desert stretched on for miles until, suddenly, the sound of music could be heard. His ears perked up. He hadn’t heard any sound, save for the whistle of the wind and beat of his heart, for days.

He followed the sound, almost as if it was beckoning him, like a lover at midnight. Soon, the desert started to disappear. In its place stood a city; a community. All around were traces of civility that the gunslinger had long thought were abandoned. Not here, though. Here, it looked as though the city was thriving. There were businesses with their doors open, restaurants exuding the scent of breads and meats and cheeses. And there were people!

People of all ages, backgrounds and color lined the streets. They were smiling, laughing, clapping their hands. This was not the desert that the gunslinger knew. This was not even the world that the gunslinger knew. This was a thriving district and it was one he wanted to station himself in for as long as he could.

Then, as if the universe were reading his thoughts, the gunslinger bore witness to an old tavern, illuminated only by gaslight. He entered the establishment and took a seat at the bar. The gunslinger reached into his pocket and pulled out a gold coin. He gently set it on the bar and asked the bartender for a beer. The gunslinger was weary and he was thirsty and this was where he would set himself for the time being.

“You’re new to these parts,” the bartender said. It wasn’t a question.

“I am,” replied the gunslinger.

“Have you heard the stories?” the bartender asked.

“The stories?”

The bartender nodded, solemnly. “The stories of The District. Everybody here has a story to tell.”

The bartender nodded towards a group of men, some of whom were holding what looked to be guitars. The gunslinger followed his gaze and cast his eyes upon these men.

“Like them,” the bartender stated. “That is The Last Coyote.”

“The Last Coyote?” the gunslinger repeated.

The bartender nodded. “Make yourself comfortable,” he said. “I’m going to tell you a story.”

It started many years ago, in the town of Laramie. Two friends would come together after a night of drinking and they would play music. What started as a way to pass the time and welcome the hangover soon turned into something a bit more serious.

“We always talked about getting together formally and doing something with it but we never did,” said lead singer and guitar player, Dustin Neal. “Years later, we found ourselves in Casper and we met up with Dino Madsen who introduced us to some guys he was jamming with, and we thought, ‘this might be the time to actually try it out and see.’”

The time was nigh and, soon, Neal and his friend Matt Wood joined forces with Madsen, as well as Sean Peverly and Jimmy Harper. Together they formed The Last Coyote, a self-described “Alt-Western”™ band that combines folk, punk and ‘outlaw country.’

“Wyoming sounds,” Neal clarified.

Those sounds have been heard all throughout The District and beyond. The Last Coyote has played at Frosty’s Bar & Grill, Urban Bottle, the David Street Station, Metro Coffee Co. and more. Soon, they will bring their talents to the stage of the Gaslight Social.

“The District is the place to be for live music,” Neal said. “It’s just all over and around every corner. Not to mention, Yellowstone Garage has been a major player in pushing live music in the area. John Huff and his crew take a major credit for helping make this scene come alive.”

There are a number of incredible venues in The District but, without the talent of the people involved, those venues would merely stand as deserted buildings; dark towers without a hint of the magic and beauty that they now convey. From the business owners themselves to the cooks, the bartenders, the sales associates and, especially, the artists and musicians- everybody involved in The District is determined to turn it into a real beacon, full of music and light.

The Last Coyote is just one of the bands that provide The District with its Songs of Susannah. Other bands and musicians, like Speed the Pilgrim, Mastermind of Monkey, Jeff Stanley, Chad Lore and more have really provided a soundtrack to The District.

“Right now is a great time to be a musician,” Neal stated. “The District offers many venue opportunities and Casper [citizens are] down there having fun. You can pop in and see a few shows over a weekend and it’s all within walking distance. The culture of the area is appealing to us as a band.”

It was not just the culture of the area, but the culture of the people of Wyoming as a whole that first inspired the songs of The Last Coyote.

“Our music is about Wyoming- the people, the places, and the way of life,” Neal emphasized. “In all of our songs are little snippets that allude to that. We’re not a cover band. We write all our own music and we just want to share a little bit of what we do with anyone who will listen.”

There are many people who like to listen, causing The Last Coyote to release 7 albums as-of-date. Their newest record, Fortune, might just be their best. It’s certainly their most ambitious and it acts as almost a musical novel about life, love and losing one’s self to destiny.

“All the songs sort of weave their way together and each one is sort of a premonition of a life that was lived or a fate that could have happened,” Neal admitted. “They are all stories [that] revolve around internal conflict of being one way and wanting something else, or realizing that the choices you’ve made lead to this consequence at hand and you can’t turn back the clock.”

“Our lives are fortunes,” he added.

Fate and fortune are two themes that are explored in The Last Coyote’s newest album. This is ironic, as it was both of those things that brought The Coyote together in the first place.

As the bartender finished the story, the gunslinger finished his drink. He turned and looked at the men who were holding the instrument. The gunslinger did not know where fate or fortune would lead him. At that moment, he didn’t care. He would stay here, in The District, for a while. Maybe just a night. He had another beer to drink and a band to listen to.

“I have one more question,” the gunslinger said. “What is the meaning behind their name?”

“Coyotes are sort of that rogue spirit of Wyoming,” the bartender described. “[A coyote is] a predator who hunts solo or in a pack. Hated by ranchers and landowners.They were mischevious and tricksters. Seen as a good sign and something to be respected. It’s not the big bad wolf, but it’s not some litter vermin either. It rides in the middle of the pack. The Native Americans said that coyotes were the keepers of the magic.”

Magic. That was what the gunslinger had felt when he entered this town. It was what The District was full of. But he knew he could not stay. He had a date with the man in black.

“Go then,” the bartender said as he took off his apron and picked up a guitar. “There are other worlds than these.”

* All albums available on itunes, google play, amazon, spotify, and all other major streaming services.

** The Gunslinger and The Man in Black are characters written by Stephen King and are in no way a creation of The District or its writers. Any use of their likeness is solely for entertainment purposes.

Go Back Home

By: The District

“People fear change.”

“There is nothing permanent except change.

 

On the edge of the District sits locally owned craft apparel and printing company 1890. It’s a Casper favorite and has made quite a name for itself since it was started. For the last nearly 3 years, 1890 Inc. has been building a production based platform for custom screen printing, custom embroidery, and design, as well as the growth of a separate Wyoming, themed lifestyle apparel brand called 1890 Craft Apparel.  The company made a name for itself through local and national attention as the provider of official products for the 2017 eclipse.  Since that time, 1890 has expanded rapidly and has created an opportunity for its current owner to make an exit through the sale of the business.   Casper should expect there will be a name change to Bighorn Design Studio, but 1890 Craft Apparel will live on as an asset of the new company.

 

We reached out to the owners of Big Horn Design Studio, WyoMade, and Metro Coffee to see what all this is going to mean for us here in The District, in Casper, and the state. Here is what they said.

 

How are the investors/owners of Metro Coffee and WyoMade involved in this deal?
Bighorn Design Studio and Metro Coffee/WyoMade have been partnering on and producing products in partnership for a little over a year.  Partners of each company were foes from their early days battling on the hardwood during Wyoming high school athletics and then became friends on the University of Wyoming campus back in the late 1990’s.  Sean Peverley and PJ Treide have remained friends and Sean presented the opportunity to PJ after Sean and Scott Cotton met about a potential sale of 1890.  In a strategic partnership among Bighorn Design Studio and the owners of WyoMade/Metro Coffee, and Bison Union Company, a deal was finalized under the umbrella of Bighorn Design Studio.

 

Is 1890 still moving into the new building, or staying in Skelly?
Bighorn Design Studio will be maintaining the current location of the Skelly Garage until at least the spring.  By that time, they project that the production of local and surrounding area product will force them out of the building.  The space is already producing at capacity, with production also being performed at an additional office location next to A-1 Tire.  It is no longer an ideal situation for large-scale production work and they foresee a move by the spring of 2019.  Bighorn Design Studio leadership has met with John Huff to begin talks about a potential move to the new space, but much of it will depend on timelines, cost, and build-out of the new building.  The group toured it last week with John Huff and Scott Cotton and they commented that it is an amazing space, but also wanted to make sure it made sense for long-term growth.  In five separate moves in Sheridan, Bighorn Design Studio has grown from a 10 foot by 15-foot metal storage space in March of 2015 to a 20,000 square foot space in Sheridan.  They also have just completed a move to their third location in Cody in one year.  With this experience, they are very mindful about getting the first move in Casper, right.

 

Can I still get 1890 gear and will there be more designs?
Currently, 1890 gear is the only retail-based product being offered at the current location.  That will change in the week prior to Thanksgiving when Bighorn Design will begin offering retail based products from Surf Wyoming, Go Slo, Cirque, CC Beanie, Bison Union, Go Fast Don’t Die, Red Bison Studio, and much more.  Limited edition products and colors will also be offered for the Casper market for several of the brands.  1890 Craft Apparel will still be a staple of the new retail space, but will have less exposure as a highlighted product.

 

How will Bighorn Design Studio improve upon 1890?
Bighorn Design Studio will bring a lot of savvy and a little bit of swagger to 1890 that will improve upon several areas of the current business.  Bighorn Design Studio has gone from five employees to forty in the last three years as it has exponentially grown its operations to include retail and production facilities in Sheridan, Cody, Powell and now Casper.  The Company has been ranked one of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Companies in Wyoming each of the last three years by the Wyoming Business Journal and recently has qualified to become an Inc. 5000 company (to be awarded in 2019).  The company has built a reputation for fast turnaround times, low prices, and for high-quality work.  They currently do production and fulfill orders to every state in the US and to nine other countries.  Bighorn Design Studio makes products for and owns Surf Wyoming, and produces products for the likes of Black Rifle Coffee, King Ropes, Go Slo, Black Tooth Brewing Company, Bison Union, and Go Fast Don’t Die.  Local customers will immediately see improvements in quality, and at a lower cost based on volume pricing and reduced fees.  Bighorn Design Studio will be making significant investments in new equipment, employee training and benefits, and within the Casper community.

 

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

“Be love; so much love that, when others are with you, they are love.”
– Abraham Washington

“Don’t dream it; be it.”
– Rocky Horror Picture Show

 

It was, perhaps, the hardest thing she’s ever had to do, but she knew she couldn’t keep it to herself any longer. They had to know. That was easier said than done, however. She practiced in the mirror a dozen times, trying to find the best words to use when she spoke to her parents. Nothing sounded right, though. None of the words she thought of could properly convey the longing and the passion in her heart. She always knew this was who she was, but vocalizing that, especially to her parents, filled her with an unbearable amount of stress and anxiety. But she knew who she was, and it was time that her parents did too.

She got dressed, got in her car and sat behind the wheel. She looked at herself in her rearview mirror and smiled. This was a long time coming. She’s experimented in the past, but she knew this was something that was about to consume her entire life- and she wanted to share it with her parents. It would be a difficult discussion, but she hoped her parents would understand; that they would accept her and love her unconditionally.

She pulled up to her childhood home, the one with so many happy memories, and walked up to the front door. She took a deep breath and rang the doorbell.

The District is full of incredible musicians, artists and entrepreneurs that dream of expressing themselves and having an audience to do so in front of. The District has painters and sketchers and singers and chefs and baristas and hoola-hoopers and everything in between. The District is a place, located in the heart of Casper, WY that allows artists to be who they are and do what they want to do. It is a safe place that houses an incredible amount of talented individuals.

Betsy Bower is one of those people. A Casper native, Bower has lived in various locations throughout the years, yet she still continues to find herself coming back home to Wyoming. This is where she lives, it’s where her family lives. It’s also where she discovered her talents as an artist and a musician.

“I feel like it’s in my genes,” Bower said of her inclination towards art. “My grandpa made me an easel for Christmas when I was, like, 5 or something like that. I gravitated towards it, naturally, and I felt like I was good at it.”

As a kid, Bower found herself immersed in a variety of “non-girly” hobbies. While she admitted to having tea parties as a kid, she was a self-admitted tomboy.

“I wasn’t really the princess type,” she stated.

Bower never wanted to be a princess. Instead, she wanted to create She also began to develop musical skills; skills that continue to serve her to this day (she plays drums and occasionally bass guitar for various bands around town, including IndiSoul). It wouldn’t be long, however, before she found her way back to art.

“I didn’t realize that I wanted more to do with art until, like, when I got a little bit older,” Bower stated. “I took classes from Mr. Slafter. He was really interesting because he didn’t really care about the students’ art. He was kind of, not really mean but just, like, honest. It gave us more freedom because you weren’t just trying to impress the teacher. He actually let us explore any type of art form we wanted to, so I explored things I hadn’t yet.”

That exploration led Bower down a multitude of roads, including painting, drawing, charcoals, intaglio and more. None of those avenues felt exactly right, however. She wanted to do something different, something more. When she was 12 years old, she found exactly what it was that she was looking for. It was…a natural transition…to say the least, but one that was still somewhat surprising.

Betsy Bower wanted to be a welder. She wanted to turn metal into art. And she knew it the moment she cut her first piece.

“My dad is where I learned to weld from,” she said. “I made my first sculpture when I was 12. It was a flower sculpture. I got hooked.”

It was an unusual avenue to take, but it’s what felt right.

Everybody draws and everybody paints,” she stated. “There are so many trendy things and I wanted to do something that was original and different.”  

Welding was certainly both of those things. One does not see many welders at art galas. But Bower wanted to combine two of her passions into one thing, and that’s exactly what she did.

It wasn’t easy, though. First starting out as an artist never is, at least according to Bower.

“If anybody wants to be an artist, they have to get through the phase of just being kind of shitty at it,” Bower laughed. “Do it and keep doing it. Failure leads to success. Period.”

It took a while, but Bower has found success as an artist. Like any artist starting out, especially in a community like Casper, there was a fair amount of failure. But talent rises, and that’s exactly what she did. Eventually, Bower would host her first metal-works show at one of The District’s best coffee shops.

“When I did decide to do metal work, my sister told me ‘You’d be good at it if you just did it, so I don’t see why you just don’t do it,’ and that’s when I had my first art show at Metro.”

She did it. And she hasn’t looked back since.

Betsy has always been her own person, always marched to the beat of her own drum. This has presented itself in her art, in her music and in her relationships.

As a gay woman in a mostly-conservative state, Bower has encountered her fair share of ignorance and resistance. This was more prevalent when she was younger and just beginning to forge her path as both an artist and as a member of the LGBT-Q community. Coming from a religious background did not make the idea of “coming out” an easy one, but Bower knew that if she wanted to achieve true bliss, she needed to stay true to herself.

“I came out to my friends and my siblings first,” Bower confessed. “I lived in San Francisco and Seattle for a little bit and I was around a community where you didn’t have to ask or say it. It didn’t matter. Coming back [to Casper] was kind of a reverse culture shock. I felt like I had to fit in a box again and it was really depressing for a few years until I started navigating more boldly.”

One of the hardest aspects of her journey was the reaction from her parents.

“I didn’t know how to have peaceful conversations with my parents about subjects that were hard to talk about,” she admitted. “So I just didn’t. With my dad especially; sometimes, it’s hard to feel like I’m being heard because he’s such a visual person.”

Bower continued, saying that she “feel[s] like they accept me but it’s just an awkward scenario, because it’s not something they’ve been exposed to long enough and in a deep enough way, to fully understand.”

Bower has never doubted the love from her parents, however, and it was actually her mom and dad that encouraged her to pursue a career as an artist.

“There was not necessarily a push,” she said, “but I think they saw it as my obvious avenue. I didn’t. I wanted to join the circus. I wanted to be a healer or go on a path of music.”

But when Betsy told her parents that she was interested in art, they were the ones that ultimately confirmed her decision.

“I was ready to hear it finally, because if my parents weren’t the ones telling me to do it, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to [be an artist]. They were waiting for it.”

Bower has undoubtedly seen a parallel between her journey as an artist and as a gay woman in a conservative town. Both require a lot of patience, a lot of understanding and, most importantly, a lot of love. They also require a lot of work but, in the end, the beauty of staying true to oneself, as an artist, as a gay person, as a human being in general, is more than worth the effort.

“For a while I resisted it because I thought that being straight would be an easier lifestyle; like nobody would be questioning what I’m doing with myself and my life,” Bower said. “It would have definitely been easier but it wouldn’t have been following my heart.”

Bower has spent her entire life following her heart. That journey has led her to a number of adventures and experiences. Most recently, Bower spent a week at Burning Man, an annual event in Northwest Nevada that is more of a temporary city/community than a festival.

“Someone said Burning Man is like an adult summer camp,” Bower said. “It’s where science meets art, meets love, and becomes a sort of a social evolution. It’s a boisterous inner child party that people have to go to themselves to understand. [It’s a place] where people can wear costumes, spin poi, burn things, and ride decorated bicycles around a giant neon city with crazy art cars. Every citizen must live by a set of 10 principles. It’s hard to sum up in words.”

Burning Man is an experience she has dreamed of sharing with her hometown, because she knows how important community is and how much people benefit from being near each other.

“I’ve wanted the Casper Pride [Festival] to feel like that; to feel this kind of open-hearted, fun, ‘you don’t know what to expect but it’s exciting’ kind of thing, because there’s fire dancing or there are lights or there’s hoola hoopers or cool DJ’s. There’s things that you didn’t necessarily expect, but then there’s this little element of magic that comes into it because it’s just these people smiling and being together.

That, more than anything, is what Betsy Bower stands for. It’s what she believes is most important- smiling, being together and falling in love, over and over again, with yourself.

“Finding your own path, when you have to carve it out yourself, can be a lot of work,” Bower stated. “Any kind of dream that anybody has is like- if you don’t put in the work, if you only dream it, you’re never going to get there. You have to just stick with it and persevere and be patient with yourself. When you make mistakes or come up against failure, you just have to accept it as part of the learning process and keep going.”  

That is something she has applied to her life and her work and she is better for it. When she has come up against obstacles, and there are always obstacles, she has fought through them. She has also learned to appreciate the hardships that come with who she is and what she does. She has had to come to certain experiences with the patience one might display when talking with a child. She has continually persevered, though. And she has never stopped believing in herself.

“You can talk yourself out of anything,” she said. “If you want to do something worth doing, talk yourself into it. Tell yourself it’s gonna be worth the work or it’s gonna be worth coming out. Do it slowly. Take it step-by-step. If you want to come out, take a small step. If you want to be an artist, take a small step. Stop telling yourself you’re not any good. Stop giving yourself the excuse and just do the next step. Get a canvas and grab some paints and suck at it for a while.”   

Her journey, as an artist and as a human being, has not been easy. It’s been a beautiful mess, quite frankly. But it made her into the incredible, vibrant, kind, caring person that she is today, and that is something she wouldn’t trade for all the metal in the world.

She took a deep breath, said a quick prayer and rang the doorbell. Her mother answered and hugs were exchanged. She followed her mom into the family room, past the piano that so many lessons were given on. She hugged her dad and sat them both down. She has been fighting with this decision for a long time, but she has always, deep in her heart, known who she was. Now, it was time that her parents knew.

“Mom, dad; I have something to tell you,” she said.

“I want to be an artist.”

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Maria Montessori didn’t intend to change the world. Her goals, while lofty, were not intended to shape an entire educational landscape. She never wanted to be featured on Italian bank notes or have schools or curriculums named after her. When Montessori graduated from Regio Istituto Tecnico Leonardo da Vinci in 1890, at the age of 20, she just wanted to help people, no matter the cost.

The cost, she would soon find out, was great. Because of the cultural norms of the time, women were not expected, nor encouraged, to pursue fields that were deemed “inappropriate” for women. Unfortunately for Montessori, pursuing a degree in medicine was one of those “inappropriate” fields.

She didn’t care.

Montessori enrolled in the University of Rome, despite objections from Guido Baccelli, the professor of clinical medicine at the school. She was met with anger and judgment and sneers from her classmates and professors, all of them males. She was forced to study cadavers alone, after hours, because studying a male body in the presence of other males during regular class times was, again, “inappropriate.”

Nevertheless, she persisted.

She graduated, with honors, in 1896 as a doctor of medicine. Her thesis was published in the medical journal Policlinico and she started a private practice in 1897.

Through it all, though, she never intended to be the face of an entirely new way of teaching. That’s exactly what she became, though.

Montessori was always interested in the way children thought, felt and acted. It was this interest that led to her working with mentally disabled children for a time, before focusing her studies on children with learning disabilities. Her background in medicine and science allowed her to study children with an objective, scientific method. Through this method, she realized a few key behaviors in children.

She noticed that the children she was studying in a classroom experienced episodes of deep attention and concentration. She also noticed that they responded well to multiple repetitions of activity and had a vast sensitivity to order in the environment.

Based on these observations, Montessori developed a curriculum and a number of practices that would highlight the interests, both educationally and personally, of children. She had no idea that, in the 100 years since her observations, more than 7,000 schools worldwide would adopt her philosophy and implement her ideas. She also couldn’t have known that these schools would take their namesake from her, calling themselves Montessori Schools. She most assuredly didn’t know that, right in the heart of The District, one of her schools would be building a brighter future for the children of Casper, Wyoming.

Don’t call them teachers, call them guides. That is what Debbi Savini said when asked what her title was at the Montessori School of Casper.

“We think of our job as being a connection between the materials and the child in the classroom, so we’re guiding them,” she said.

Savini has been guiding students at the school since 1982, just 7 years after the school first opened. There was an idea, even back in the 70’s, that maybe schools can offer more than just education about math, science, and English. Maybe part of the responsibility of a school could be and should be, teaching character and independence as well.

“Dr. Montessori put together an educational system that helped children to become independent thinkers and learners,” Savini said. “People recognized that she had something great going and wanted to continue with that. People in Casper got ahold of that system and said ‘wow, that’s what we want.’”

That’s exactly what they got and for the past 43 years, The Montessori School of Casper has been developing students to be free-thinking, independent, kind, caring and intelligent members of the community.

“The program really focuses on independence; teaching the child to be independent and responsible for their own choices in the classroom,” stated Dawn Kropatsch, the Montessori School Administrator.

Kropatsch was not always the school’s administrator, however. When she first became involved with Montessori of Casper, she was just a mom.

Both of my daughters went to school here, and they thrived here,” she said. “This was a great experience for both of them.”

It’s a great experience for any child that is an independent, free thinker. They have to be independent because, in a classroom of 28 students or more, sometimes independence is necessary.

“We prefer it that way, because that means that we’re not available to the children all the time,” Savini admitted. “They have to go to their friends if they need help or they have to figure it out themselves, which is really nice for them because what it says to them is ‘I’m capable. I can figure this out. Or someone just like me can figure it out so I can too.’”

It’s a novel concept, really. It’s one that more schools have started to adapt, but Montessori was one of the first people to realize that just because children are small, they are not less-than anything. They have their own thoughts and ideas and, if encouraged to explore and develop those ideas, they will constantly surprise.

“At this age, between 0-6, they’re laying a foundation for the rest of their lives and the things that they learn at this age, they will continue for the rest of their lives,” Savini said. “If they can go off and get themselves dressed, they won’t have to rely on somebody else. If they can bake bread at this age, they don’t rely on somebody else to do it. If they go off and read a book at this age, then they’re always going to look for a book.”

Even more than teaching children how to get dressed on their own and bake their own bread, the Montessori School of Casper is teaching children how to interact with each other, which is something that any of us struggle with at a time, no matter the age.

When asked what the biggest reason for her wanting to work with children at Montessori, Savini said “to be honest with you, when I first got into Montessori, the thing that appealed to me was [her] idea of cosmic education. She had a view that human beings if they’re given the opportunity to help out their fellow man now, they’ll do it forever.”

And shouldn’t that be the point of school? Many students will not remember math equations or specific dates or homophones, but if they’re learning how to solve life issues by themselves right now, they’ll know how to do it forever. If they are developing a kindness in their hearts while helping a friend tie their shoes right now, they’ll keep that kindness for the rest of their lives. Montessori valued the importance of a good education, she had one of the best, in fact. But she knew, even in the 1800’s, that it was the character and the integrity of a person that mattered most and she worked tirelessly and thanklessly to give children an opportunity to develop those attributes at an early age.   

Now, more than 100 years later, that idea is truer than ever. We live in a world of selfishness and entitlement, but it is the younger generation that is starting to rise up and fight against those things; not with brute force or sharpened swords, but with the kindness and tenderness that Dr. Montessori exemplified all those years ago.

The Montessori School of Casper is a big part of that revolution, but it’s not the only part. Partnerships between the school and parents, as well as the school and the rest of the community, are vital to the process of development for our kids.

“It’s not just a form of education; it’s an attitude toward life,” Savini said. “It’s something that carries over into the homes, so we help parents find ways for their kids to be independent at home, as well. Parents have found that it’s easier in the long run if they let [their kids] be independent and work alongside them, instead of doing things for them.”

It’s a learning process for all involved, including the students, parents, and guides. It’s also a learning process for the community upon which the school is located. The community, in large part, has been an enormous support system for the school. There are, as the guides put it to students, “areas for growth,” however.

“It’s nice to be centrally located, however, it’s been challenging the last year or two because there have been some businesses around us that…maybe their clientele is…different than ours,” Kropatsch stated.

Because of the many business located in The District, sometimes the Montessori School finds itself as the harbinger of collateral damage, so to speak.

“We find our parking lot filled with broken glass and cigarette butts,” Savini admitted. “People throw their beer cans in our playground. It’s a lesson for the kids.”

Anything can be a lesson for the kids, but the students and staff at Montessori would certainly appreciate a little bit more respect for their environment, which is not a difficult request. Besides those small issues, though, the location of Montessori has proven to yield a lot of really positive results.

“We can walk to art galleries, we can walk to the library- there are lots of things we can do,” Savini said. “All of those kinds of things are close to us.”

Montessori offers opportunities for students that not all schools have. It is privately funded and relies on tuition and various fundraisers to keep its doors open. Finances, especially these days, are hard to manage. The future is hard to plan for, but it’s not just our future we need to focus on, which is why Montessori is such a vital part of the community. It is not for everyone, however. Because of this, parents are encouraged to call Dawn and schedule a time to come in and observe how things are done. This gives parents the opportunity to decide if their child would be a good fit for the school, and if the school would be a good fit for the child. Nobody, especially Savini and Kropatsch, want finances to be the deciding factor, so Montessori does offer various generous scholarships to various candidates.

The children of the Montessori School of Casper are not spending hours upon hours studying in a dark classroom. They are building gardens and going to art galleries; they are doing laundry and baking bread. They’re preparing themselves for the future, really. More importantly, they’re learning how to take care of themselves, of each other and of the world around them.

Maria Montessori was told no. She was told that she wasn’t good enough or smart enough. She was told that because of her gender, she could not pursue her dreams. She was doubted and mocked and ridiculed and harassed. Nevertheless, she persisted. In doing so, she changed the way education is taught and she changed the way children are molded. She gave the children of this world an opportunity to focus on kindness, on independence and on self-confidence. Dr. Montessori did a lot of things for a lot of people in her lifetime. She changed the lives of thousands. She introduced a way of teaching that prepares students for a future far beyond that of the next grade or the next school. She gave the children of Casper, Wyoming an opportunity to learn a little differently.

She just helped, that’s all, which is all she ever wanted to do.   

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Once upon a time, as the story goes, there was a girl with a dream.

For Faith Conaway, owner and operator of Dream Upon A Princess, owning her own business wasn’t a dream she had…until it actually happened. What Faith dreamt about, even as a little girl, was performing and entertaining people. Now, as a 27-year-old small business owner, she gets to do just that.

Dream Upon A Princess is a multi-faceted entertainment company that specializes in bringing princesses, superheroes, pirates and more to life for birthday parties and special events.

Faith wasn’t always the driving force behind this Disney-inspired performance troupe, however. At first, she was just following her dream of being a performer.

“I was actually accepted to be a performer for the Disney World College program, but I turned it down because I wanted a degree in something besides business, which is really the only degree they offered,” Faith said.

Instead of joining the Disney family, Faith moved to Duluth Minnesota for school. It was there that she met a kindred spirit who had started her own version of Dream Upon A Princess, though she wasn’t calling it that. Faith was one of her first performers and she fell in love with the entire process but after only performing for 2 parties, she moved back home to Casper Wyoming. She started to work as a fitness instructor and a nanny, amongst other things, but her time in Duluth stayed in the back of her mind. She just couldn’t let it go.

Finally, after about 6 months, she asked her friend in Duluth if she could bring her idea to Casper. The friend said yes, but Faith was still unsure if this was something she really wanted to pursue

“I wait and I think about things before I decide because once I decide something, I put 100 percent in,” she admitted.

Well, she finally decided that this was a dream worth following and just like that, the genie was out of the bottle.

The first thing she needed, she decided, was a name. She did an extensive amount of research and weighed many different options before finally settling on Dream Upon A Princess. In regards to the meaning behind the name, Faith said she decided on that one because “we want to fulfill dreams. We want to make dreams come to life. We want to show that any girl can go out there and achieve her dreams if she fights for it.”

Before she could do any of that, however, she needed to turn a “me” into a “we.” To do that, she enlisted the help of friends and family, as well as the Kelly Walsh High School music and drama departments. After an extensive recruitment and audition process, Faith believed she had the team she needed to take Casper to the 2nd star from the right and straight on ‘til morning.

————————————————————————————————————

It’s a Saturday morning and the scene is chaotic. There are wigs being passed around and songs are being sung while the laughter of a multitude of girls resonates in the air. The girls of Dream Upon A Princess have a birthday party to attend in an hour and, as a wise old rabbit once said, they’re late for a very important date.

Faith goes from girl to girl, making sure hair and makeup and hearts are prepared. She shares laughter and smiles with these girls, her girls and she knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that starting this company was the best decision of her life.

What families see at a birthday party that they’ve hired Dream Upon A Princess to perform at is a slick, professional presentation that is designed to leave children with a lasting memory. What they don’t see is all of the work that goes on behind the scenes.

————————————————————————————————————

Once Faith decided hers was a dream worth pursuing, and once she gathered her team, that’s when the real work started. The list of things that Faith needed to do in order to guarantee Dream Upon A Princess was a success would put the list of chores Cinderella had to do while everybody else was at the ball to shame. She had to register her business as an LLC, she had to purchase costumes, she had to come up with the curriculum and activities, she had to do some guerilla marketing, develop a Facebook page, study study study, take a deep breath, train her actors and more. Wishes upon stars work sometimes, but you still have to work to make your dreams come true and that’s exactly what Faith and her group of dreamers did and, surprisingly, there were very few kinks to work out.

As with any group of actors, there are sure to be egos the size of the whale that swallowed Pinocchio. With Faith’s actors, however, there are very few problems. Most everybody involved are there because they believe in what Faith is doing; they believe that a little bit of light in the world can change somebody’s life and they believe that, once in a while, dreams are allowed to come true.

In fact, the only real problems that occur come from the unpredictability of working with children, according to Faith.

“The hardest thing about the job is just being prepared and being in character the whole time,” Faith admitted. “Kids ask you lots of questions and you have to know how to answer them. Sometimes kids say awkward things like ‘how did you feel when your parents died?’ and you have to come up with something on the spot and you have to think of your character’s mindset.”

The ability to deal with questions like that comes from hours of training that Faith puts her actors through. Her group is constantly evolving, as are the activities and events they perform at.

In just the 4 short years that Dream Upon A Princess has existed, they’ve already put on dozens of birthday parties, Halloween carnivals, princess balls, etiquette classes and more. This year, they even provided a brief reprieve for the parents who brought their children to the Wyoming Women’s Expo held at the Casper Events Center. Faith and her crew offered the opportunity for kiddos and parents alike to take part in numerous activities and photo-ops throughout the weekend. All of this is in addition to the multitude of volunteer activities that Dream Upon A Princess takes part in as well.

Community members have undoubtedly seen the Dream Upon A Princess crew around The District. They have participated in numerous events at the David Street Station, The Lyric and more. This is by design, as Faith sees how vital Downtown Casper is becoming to the community.

“I am so impressed by Casper’s community coming together to really revive our downtown area,” she said. “It’s such a welcoming venue for families, and businesses are stepping up and creating events and activities to nurture our community. I love getting to volunteer and being a part of these fun activities!”

Faith’s goals, she stated, are to be a vessel that helps bond this community, even more, to bring a little bit of light into her tiny pocket of the world and to show that life doesn’t have to be as tangled as we make it.

More than anything, though, Faith says her goal is to show all of us that “you can do anything if you put your whole heart and mind into it. I believe that, a hundred percent. Nobody gets things handed to them, but if you work hard and you do everything you can to achieve something, I know you can do it.”

—————————————————————————————————

As her performers gather in the living room of her parents’ house, the house that she grew up in, indeed her first stage, Faith picks up a character’s wig and thinks back on the past two years and what she’s been able to accomplish in such a short time. She’s built a business from the ground up, she’s given dozens of people the opportunity to perform professionally, and she’s given Casper a new entertainment group to book for events. Faith has fulfilled a dream she didn’t even know she had until she had it. But at this moment, standing before her actors, her team, her family, none of that matters because, for the next hour, she gets to live her first dream; the dream she had since she was a little girl. When she puts that wig on she’s no longer Faith Conaway, business owner; she transforms into Rapunzel or Elsa or Cinderella and she’s not thinking about booking her next event or which actors will be available for which party. For the next hour or two, the only goal Faith has is making sure that wishes are granted, dreams are dreamt and memories are made. More than anything, she wants to help a room full of children believe, if only for just a little bit longer, that we can all live happily ever-

Well, you know the rest.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

The District is full of places that make for an excellent first date. In fact, we’ve compiled a list of the perfect date because we understand how important first impressions are. Most, if not all of us, know what it’s like to go out on a first date. We’re nervous, we’re excited, we’re anxious and we’re enamored. It’s the perfect cocktail of emotions for this type of activity and, if we’re lucky, we can project those emotions into the perfect date. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things working against us having the perfect date. The underlying reason, in most cases, is simply because he/she is just really not that into you.

It takes a girl roughly 7 seconds to decide if she’s attracted to you, and a few short minutes to decide if she’s into you at all. We’d imagine it takes guys around the same time. What’s frustrating is that even after deciding you’re not into the person, or the person isn’t into you, you still have to spend 1-2 hours with that person. If you’re an optimist, you believe that maybe you guys can convince each other that you like each other. You can’t. Your date is going to flop, you’re going to go home alone and you’re going to spend the rest of the evening playing PS4. If this train wreck happens in The District, you might have negative feelings about this place that we love. To save you some time and money, and to save us from having to find a new place to write articles about, so as not to remind you of how awful that dinner with Becky went, we’ve compiled a list of 4 Signs That Your First Date Is a Flop. These signs are gender-specific, but they can usually apply to either sex. We want you to enjoy your time in The District. So, if your date is destined for failure, just bail and go check out The Gaslight or Frosty’s. Tell the bartenders about your night, and maybe you’ll at least score a free drink.

She Spends The Whole Date Texting

This has happened to the best of us. You’re sitting across from a person, trying to make conversation and she’s hiding behind an IPhone. At first, we pretend it doesn’t bother us. She is probably just texting a friend, telling them about the date. As it continues, however, we begin to realize that maybe we’re just really not that interesting. If the person you’re on a date with is more interested in the people that live inside her iPhone than the person she’s actually with, your date is probably a flop.

How to Flip the Flop-

Many people presented with this situation would make some backhanded, playful-yet-passive aggressive comment like “Oh, guess you must not be too interested in me.” This is a mistake. It strikes you as needy and codependent and insecure- definitely not qualities you want to display on your first date. Instead, take the direct approach. Say, “Hey, what would you say to us both putting our phones away for a while and focusing on getting to know each other better, without the distraction of probably the dozens of people who can’t stop talking to us?” This will work for two reasons. One, she’ll admire your forcefulness. Women like a man who takes charge. Two, because you made a joke at the end, she won’t think that you’re trying to tell her what to do, but instead, you’re acting like co-conspirators, tuning out the annoying friends.

He Checks Out The Waitress More Than You

Restaurants hire attractive people to be servers so they can make a lot of money. Servers act flirty so they can get big tips. These are facts. Because of these facts, the guy you’re with is apt to let his eyes wander a time or two. This is fine once or twice, but if the guy spends more time looking at your waitress’ cleavage than at your eyes, there’s a problem. It means, at worst, you’re not very attractive to him and, at best, you are attractive to him but just not as much as the waitress is. The worst part is if he isn’t even making an attempt to hide it, it probably means that he has no plans to further your relationship. Because of this, your first date is probably a flop.

How To Flip The Flop-

Don’t. If he’s not focused on not only your face but also on your mind and your heart, he’s not worth it and you should go find somebody who is. He’s out there.

Ex-Communication

If there is one sure sign that your date is headed into “flop territory,” it’s the dreaded Ex-Talk. Whether you’re a man or a woman, if the person you’re on a date with spends the majority of it talking about their ex, you’re in trouble. A lot of people don’t realize how much we don’t care about their previous relationships. Yes, you’re damaged. We are too, probably. But the more you lament about what was, the more we lose interest in what could be. We get that you want to open up about your previous relationships, but we also don’t care to hear every excruciating detail about them, especially your sex life.  If you can find a way to have a discussion about your former relationships, without it sounding like you’re pining for the good old days, then go for it. Otherwise, save it for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th date. Or better yet, just talk about it with your friends.

How To Flip The Flop-

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re listening to the many sordid details about lost love, there are a few different things you can do. The first thing is the direct approach. It’s amazing how much we underestimate honesty sometimes. Simply saying that it may be better if you don’t talk about previous relationships will usually work. If you’re like most people on a first date, and honesty isn’t something you really want to convey right now, you can always try to distract from the conversation. Say something like, “well clearly he/she doesn’t know what she/he’s missing.” This will hopefully bring it back around to talking about the two of you. Of course, if that doesn’t work, you can just tune them out and focus on one thing about them that you’re really attracted to. And you can drink a lot- which brings us to our next sign.

Either You Or They, Are Drinking Way Too Much

Alcohol is always a useful tool to have on a first date and The District is full of awesome places to get your drink on, like The Gaslight Social, the Wonder Bar or The Office. People find themselves opening up more to each other over a shared bottle of wine. The problem happens when there’s only one person sharing the bottle of wine, while the other looks on. Having a drink to loosen up and gather confidence is good. Drinking until you become belligerent and violent is bad. The key, as always, is moderation. If you find yourself focusing more on your vodka than on your date, there is a problem. If you find your date downing a third glass of wine within the hour, there is a problem. If your goal is to get drunk and then hook up, that is called your twenties. But you could have done that without having to buy dinner. Bottom line, alcohol should be a tool of the date, not the focus.

How To Flip The Flop-

You can’t. Just continue drinking. There is little hope for salvaging this date, so your best bet is to continue drinking, get a cab ride home, and fall asleep next to your cat.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

It started with the piano. In his mind, he remembers it as something that was bigger than life, a towering mechanism of ebony and ivory, metal and strings. The rest of his family, his two brothers, for instance, could look at the piano and see nothing more than a chore, something that needed dusting every week. For his parents, it was a nice piece of furniture, sure. It added to the overall aesthetic of the home, but it was rarely used.

For Quinlan Valdez, though, that piano was the start of something wonderful. It began his love for music at a very young age.

“My first playing experience was in first grade,” Valdez remembered. “There was always a piano in the house, but nobody ever played it. I kept looking at it and I decided that I was going to put it to use.”

That’s exactly what he did. He took lessons, at first, but quickly realized that he didn’t want to replicate pieces that other people have created. He wanted to create his own music.

Fast forward to 2018 and Valdez is a 17-year-old journeyman musician (well, his journeys extend as far as his mom’s car takes him) who plays piano, guitar and the banjo. He has become a fixture of The District’s venues, playing at Metro Coffee Co., Crescent Moon Coffee Stop, David Street Station and more. His songs, in the vein of Bob Dylan or Neil Young, tell stories. Usually, those stories come from heartbreak, loss and various other experiences that suck dealing with at the time, but usually, make for good stories down the road.

This was a lesson Valdez learned at an early age when he would frequent various coffee shops and playing spaces around town, watching and, most importantly, listening to the artists that have come before him. That’s when he realized exactly what it was he wanted to do.

“It started when I started listening to other people’s songs; I mean really listening,” he said. “I was realizing that I could channel really crummy emotions through this stuff, and I wanted other people to be able to do that.”

Valdez is no stranger to ‘crummy emotions,’ either. For the past several years, he has been battling seasonal depression; an affliction that affects nearly 3 million Americans each year.

“I’m coping with it a little better,” Valdez stated. “I’ve had friends who try to offer me certain activities, but that’s never been for me.”

The one solace Valdez has found throughout his battle with depression has been music. It’s been less of an escape (there’s no escaping depression) and more of an expression. Any musician or writer or artist will tell you that sometimes the best art comes from the worst pain and Valdez has come to embrace some of those not-so-great feelings, channeling them into music.

“You almost need to have depression or bad experiences, no matter how much you dread them if you want to move forward with [music],” he said. “You have to kind of be a loner to be a musician.”

Valdez has friends to confide in, but he is, self-admittedly, a ‘loner.’ That did not stop him, however, from reaching out to a fellow musician- one who served as a huge inspiration.

“In 2010 I saw Jalan Crossland for the first time at Artcore,” Valdez remembered. “I had no clue that you could be a local musician. It was either, do it as a hobby in coffee shops or you’re as famous as Taylor Swift. I realized, though, that [Crossland] doesn’t do any of that. He just drives around in a van and plays. I told him ‘I wanna do things the way you do them.’”

So, he did.

Valdez has been playing local gigs, as well as a few out of town shows. This is called ‘paying your dues,’ and Valdez has no qualms about ‘putting in the road time.’

“When you become something like an artist or a musician or a writer, your mindset begins to change. I come from a family that demands comfort and security. But as a musician, you don’t need a lot of things, like a house, because you’ll never be there.”

Perhaps one can chalk it up to youthful naivety, or earnestness, but Valdez said that he doesn’t envision himself having a “solid foundation” like many of his peers, and family members, work so hard for.

“You can’t have a solid life, at least to write the songs that I write,” he said. “I get to see how three other siblings raise a family. I realized how solid it is. You have to have a steady income, you’re around the exact same people every day.”

There are some people who enjoy a “stable life.” They find great happiness and fulfillment in working a 9-5 job, coming home and spending time with family. Some people, however, need something different. Some people are born for the road, that’s all.

Jalan Crossland certainly was, and he has made a name for himself in Wyoming and beyond for being the journeyman musician that Quinlan Valdez aspires to be. In fact, Crossland has been such a big influence on Valdez, that he actually reached out to him 2 years ago.

There would be no sliding into DM’s for Valdez, though. For one, that wasn’t a thing yet. More important, however, was the fact that Valdez wanted to show Crossland just how much he was influenced by his music, so he pulled out a history book to find out how people used to communicate.

“I had written him a handwritten letter, which nobody does anymore,” he said. “I told him that I was starting to write my own songs and told him that he was my main inspiration for all of this. I didn’t hear back from him, but I got to meet him again in Ten Sleep [Wyoming]. I’m pretty fair friends with him, now. He likes my stuff.”

That nod of approval from his biggest inspiration was all Valdez needed to know he was doing the right thing. In addition to honing his piano skills, he also taught himself the guitar, as well as the banjo and he utilizes all three during his shows.

Quinlan Valdez has played all over Casper and though he does want to expand his horizons one day, he realizes how important the development of Downtown Casper has been to his own journey as a musician.

“The only [major] things I remember that happened when I was a little kid were NicFest and the Central Wyoming Fair and the parade,” Valdez claimed.  “Now, there are so many more things, so many more opportunities.”

Valdez has received many opportunities throughout The District, and he plans to continue to hone his craft while channeling his emotions- hopefully into something that will help somebody else.

“Every time I’ve written a song, no matter how current the situation is or what’s going on in the song, I write it down and once it’s done, the feeling is gone,” he stated. “Once you have a song written, it has its own life. You put that piece out of your life that you know you had, but you don’t need it anymore.”

Valdez might not be aware that his songwriting technique is actually a vital part of any sort of “therapy session.” It’s the idea that we can take an experience, even a bad one, take the good from it (lessons, happy memories, etc.) and “give the rest back.” That idea makes each experience an important one, something to learn from, something with meaning. For an artist, this opens up a wealth of storytelling opportunities as well, and that’s exactly what Valdez does. He takes his experiences, even the bad ones, and he makes them matter. He allows himself to be vulnerable on stage and, because of that, he has built a reputation as one of The District’s rising musicians.

Valdez said this his shows are akin to pulling somebody aside, sitting them down and saying “let me tell you a story.”  He makes his audience listen and, if they do, they might find out something about themselves.

And so.

It’s a Friday night. The lights are dim. The coffee shop is full of people talking, laughing and sipping a warm drink. It’s a familiar scene, but one that he will never get used to. As he takes the stage, picking up his guitar and making sure his banjo is nearby, he smiles. He sits in his old wicker chair that he brings to every gig and he plucks a few strings to get the audience’s attention. As they begin to quiet and turn their eyes to the stage, he smiles one more time.

“Hi, my name is Quinlan,” he says. “Sit down, let me tell you a story.”

“It all started with a piano.”

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

We were the magnificent dreamers
In secret lamplight hideouts
We swore the world couldn’t break us
Even when the world took us down
-Gaslight Anthem, ‘We’re Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Diner’

“Students, take your seats,” the Business Professor at the University of Wyoming stated. “Let’s discuss your thesis.”

This was the moment he was waiting for. He had been sitting on this idea for years, ever since he first took the job at the bar on Custer Street. Growing up in a bowling alley/bar, this was not a strange world for him- he had lived in it his entire life. His father owned El-Marco Lanes back in Casper, which taught him a lot of things about the bar business, but also about business in general. This is what led to him pursuing his Master’s Degree in Business to begin with. Now, he wanted to put that knowledge and experience to use. For his thesis, he would come up with a business plan to develop a new bar in Laramie.

He told his first professor about his idea, and was immediately deflated.

“If you use this idea for your business plan, I promise you will fail,” his professor said.

Dejected, he sought out a 2nd opinion from a different professor for whom he held a great degree of respect. 

He got the same answer.

“If you pursue this idea, you are not going to pass.”

And that could have been the end of it. He could have given up his dream of creating his own bar. He could have developed a plan for a hotel or a restaurant or any number of other start-up businesses that might have impressed his professors. But he didn’t quit. He didn’t change his plan. He had Great Expectations, sure. But he believed in himself and he believed in his idea and he believed that this plan could succeed. He had desire, experience and luck on his side.

Now, he just needed a plan.

Matt Galloway was born into this business. His father, Van, opened El-Marco Lanes/Galloways Pub in 1990, when Galloway was 15 years old. Matt did everything the son of a business owner was expected to do. He cleaned bathrooms, ran food orders and washed dishes. He also watched. He studied. He took notes on how to successfully run a business. He took that experience with him to college in Laramie, Wyoming. After a few years, a few degrees and a few stories to tell, he came back to Casper with a Masters and a plan. While working at the Fireside bar, in Laramie, Galloway learned first-hand how much work it took to run a bar.

“I worked [at Fireside] for a week and after that week, I was promoted to manager, “Galloway said of his time in Laramie. “You talk about getting thrown to the wolves. The first night I was working, we didn’t have any money. The owner was pretty loose with everything so I ended up having to call a friend to go to the ATM with my card. I pulled out my own money to make change for the register. He was impressed with how I figured that out, so I was the manager within a week.”

Galloway spent many years working at the Fireside, which is where he came up with the skeleton of an idea for his own bar. He graduated, worked at Sidelines back in Casper for a year, gaining even more experience and then he moved to Denver. He opened a bar in the mile-high city, which he eventually sold to the Melting Pot in Ft. Collins. Galloway liked Denver fine, but it wasn’t home. Casper was home. And Casper was where he wanted to succeed.

In 2004, Galloway called his dad up and asked if he could take over the family business. Knowing how hard his son worked, Van Galloway quickly agreed…but he had a caveat.

“Don’t ruin my bar.”

Matt didn’t intend to. In fact, he saw the potential for growth and that potential manifested itself in 2011, when Galloways opened their new addition.

“It had this little niche because it was hip and cool,” Galloway said of the bar. “We didn’t have a sign; it was kind of a backdoor bar. We had our bowling clientele but we also had this outside clientele that was coming in specifically for the bar. That just kept building and it started to build until it hit a breaking point.”

That breaking point led to the addition and, suddenly (even though it took years), Galloways had become one of Casper’s biggest and best bars. Bowlers still frequented the pub, but it was now open to a whole new generation of patrons. This led to the creation of Keg and Cork, a similarly-themed bar on the East side of town, which was an equally-successful venture.

One of the biggest mistakes that a business owner can make, whether the business is a restaurant or a bar, is to think that just because one establishment is successful, another would be as well. Said owner then creates another establishment that, effectively, takes half of the other establishment’s business.

Galloway said this process is called business cannibalism and it’s something that plagues countless bars and restaurants. Still, despite this, he wanted to try his luck one more time. He was 2-0 with his bars, but now he wanted to swing for the fences. Should he strikeout, though, he could lose it all.

But he had a plan.

“And it feels like all you’d have to do is step outside
Stop pacing around and waiting for some moment that might never arrive
But you’re never gonna find it
Like when you were young and everybody used to call you Lucky”
– Gaslight Anthem, ‘Stay Lucky’

“I got lucky,” Galloway said when discussing everything that went into creating The Gaslight Social. “Business 101 says that you should never go into business with partners and I heeded that advice for a long time and only worked with family. But I was lucky enough to go into business with some amazing people.”

Some business owners knew the potential that Downtown Casper had and prepared accordingly. Others were…not so sure. Galloway admitted that he had no idea what The District could become and was even, at first, a bit stubborn. He had just invested a lot of time and money into establishments on the East and West side of town. But it didn’t take long for him to come around.

“About 2 years ago I heard the rumblings about David Street Station and heard about this vibe that they were trying to create downtown,” Galloway said. “Then I realized, it’s probably going to happen. It’s a reality because that’s what most towns are doing. I said that I’d rather be on the inside looking out than on the outside looking in.”

So he did some digging. He started formulating a plan. He scouted locations downtown. He partnered with Richard Bratton and, incredibly, he found that there was a liquor license hiding in plain sight that was not being used by anybody in the community.

“I did a lot of legwork and found that there had been a liquor license parked at the city for years and no one knew about it,” Galloway stated. “I called everybody, from the city manager at the time to Carla who basically runs all of this stuff and nobody knew; it took them two or three weeks to figure out ‘Wow, we really do have this license.’”

“I said ‘You do. I want it. I want to buy it.’”

At first, the City of Casper agreed that since Galloway had found the license, he could be the one to buy it. But, after some deliberation, it was decided that it would be fair to offer it to all interested parties. Galloway and 4 or 5 other business owners all put together a proposal, detailing how they would utilize the liquor license. It eventually went to John Huff, owner of Yellowstone Garage.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get it,” Galloway remembered. “But they did give it to John Huff and I don’t slight them for that. John Huff is Yellowstone District. He is the Godfather, so I didn’t slight them for that. Did it hurt? Yeah. It hurt because I discovered it, but John definitely deserved it.”

So, Galloway and Bratton went back to the drawing board. Luckily, Galloway had a Plan B.

“I was able to figure out that there were some hotels in town that were sitting on retail liquor licenses when they actually could be applying for a resort license,” he said.

By helping one of the hotels apply for a resort license, he was able to procure their original liquor license. It was a win-win situation. Now he just needed a location.

As luck would have it, an old friend of Galloway’s, Pete Maxwell, just bought the building that formerly housed “The ARC of Natrona County.”

“Pete and I, in the past, had talked about owning a bar together and he asked if I would still be interested in doing that,” Galloway said. “I went ‘Oh my God, you have no idea how good your timing is.’ So Pete and Richie and my brother and I partnered up and opened what is The Gaslight Social.”

It was a lofty idea. How many bar owners open up not one, not two, but three bars in the same (not very big) city? It was a perfect example of Business Cannibalism and it was destined to fail.

Except it didn’t.

This was due, primarily, to the fact that all 4 partners wanted this new venture to be more than just a bar. They wanted it to be a bar and a restaurant and a venue and a lounge. They also had one more idea.

They wanted to put in an arcade.

“The beauty of this place is that it’s got 4 views,” Galloway admitted. “This wasn’t all my idea. It wasn’t all Richie’s, it wasn’t all Pete’s and it wasn’t all Mark’s. We were able to come together and we all had these great ideas. Pete loved the arcade idea. I wanted a venue where we could do music; that’s always been my passion. Mark wanted a place with more lounge seating. We got to thinking- why don’t we do all of this? We’ve got this huge blueprint, let’s bring it all into one.”

So, they did. They built and they renovated and they hired. They worked hard to open in time for the 2017 Eclipse Festival and they almost had everything put together. But then, somebody asked a very important question.

“What do we call it?”

Galloway knew he wanted to include the word ‘Social’ in whatever they called this new Barcade/Eatery. He wanted it to be a social place, where people of all ages and backgrounds could meet and drink and break bread together. He wanted it to be a place that had something for everybody, a truly ‘social’ event. It was a good idea, but they needed more. Luckily, one of the men had just returned from a business trip and had been in a bar that was lit entirely by gaslight. It was beautiful and it was exactly the spark that the partners needed.

It didn’t come without some backlash, however, thanks to a term that has become en vogue for millennials.

“Gaslighting in its truest sense is [a term] from the early 1900’s, and it basically means convincing someone they’re crazy when they’re not,” Galloway revealed. “I don’t want to offend anybody and my heart goes out to anybody that has been subjected to that form of domestic violence.”

Ultimately, they kept the name and The Gaslight Social was born.

In its short existence, The Gaslight Social has more than lived up to its name. It has become the social event of each week. It’s had its share of growing pains and peaks and valleys and girls claiming they got shot when actually they just got really drunk and tried to hop a fence. There have been struggles and there have been lessons learned. But, The Gaslight Social has become everything that Galloway and his partners envisioned. From the games to the food, to the cocktails being served- everything has fit together. This is especially true of the employees.

“As a family, we have been so blessed with devoted employees,” Galloway said. “At the Keg and Cork, there are people there who have been there since day one and we’ve been open since 2013. That’s a lot to say in this industry and it spilled over to Gaslight and Galloways as well.”

Galloway said that his employees are the key to the success of The Gaslight. Another key to that success is always being ahead of the curve.

“The worst thing you can do in this industry is remain stagnant,” Galloway stated. “I think it’s important to always reinvent yourself, redefine yourself. That can be as simple as a new menu, but even doing new things with design or bringing in new things. I can assure you we will always be doing that. When I see that certain areas are lagging, we’ll make the change. We’ve got some ideas in our arsenal that we’ll unveil in the future.”

Already, Gaslight has showcased incredible acts, like Hairball and Bubba Sparxx. They have truly become something for everybody, of all ages, which is all Galloway ever wanted to do.

“We want to have something for everyone,” he said. “We don’t want to be defined by a certain demographic. We want to be every demographic. We want to be something for everybody.”

Twenty-something-year-old Matt Galloway stood before a collection of his peers, his professors, and various bank clientele. He was to pitch his business plan and, contrary to the advice from his professors, his plan was about a bar. One hour later, Galloway finished his presentation. Sweat dripped from forehead but he was relieved. The worst part was over. Now, he waited with baited breath. The room was silent. Then, he heard clapping. It started in the back and worked its way forward until every person in the room was applauding his presentation. Galloway looked at his professor, who winked at him as if to say “You were right, kid.” As people began exiting the room, the president of the bank approached Matt.

“If you ever decide to make this a reality, I want to invest. Not with the bank’s money; with my money.”

It was the greatest compliment Galloway had ever or would ever receive. That was the moment he decided what he wanted to do with his life. It was the moment he knew which direction his career path would lead. He knew that he would need a lot of luck, a lot of hard work and a lot of passion. He had all of that. Now, he just needed a plan.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

“Back to school, back to school
To prove to Dad that I’m not a fool
I’ve got my lunch packed up
My boots tied tight
I hope I don’t get in a fight”

-Seminal Classic Film, Billy Madison

It’s that time of the year again. The leaves are falling, the sun is setting a little bit earlier and you, dear reader, are no doubt being inundated with back to school promotions. You are, we assume, getting quite overwhelmed. We don’t blame you. This is a stressful time but, we assure you, you are not alone. You can make it through this. And we can help.

The bad news is, you and your family, especially your children, are going to be miserable for the next 9 months. The good news is, at least they can be miserable in style! There are several shops in The District that will make your kid the envy of the classroom. There are also places in The District that will recharge and refresh your entire family as Fall turns into Winter, Winter into Spring and, finally, Spring turns back into Summer.

So, hypothetical parent, take a breath (or a drink) and take our hand as we lead you through The District’s Guide to Going Back to School. This article is designed to give you and your student ideas on how to look good, feel good and, most importantly, make a ton of memories this school year.

Look Good

There are many shops located within The District that will ensure your student is voted “best-dressed” in this year’s yearbook.

Cooper’s Makeup & Clothing is one of the newest additions to The District and it is the perfect place to find clothes that have all the fashion and flare of something you’d find in New York or Paris, but without the outrageous prices. Whether your student is looking for the coolest jeans, the flowiest dresses or, if your student is a senior this year and just doesn’t have to care anymore, the comfiest yoga pants, Cooper’s is the place to go. Cooper’s also has shirts, shoes, belts, hats, jewelry and more, so whether your student is a he or a she, Cooper’s is sure to dress them for success.

And did we mention makeup? Look, nobody likes waking up at the crack of dawn to make one’s self look presentable. First of all, you’re beautiful just the way you are. But! If you’re a fan of makeup, Cooper’s has a wide selection of makeup lines designed to accentuate your beauty- not overpower it. They also have a variety of services, including makeup lessons, group lessons, group events, full face services, eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes and more. Cooper Cercy is trained in each of those and she is determined to make individuals look as beautiful as they feel. They only use cruelty-free makeup lines and Cooper always has her finger on the pulse of “what’s hot/what’s not” when it comes to makeup and fashion. Cooper’s Makeup and Clothing offer the hottest labels for prices that are cheaper than what one could find online.

Better still, from August 31-September 15th, Cooper’s is offering an ‘End of Summer Sale.’ 2 racks in the store are 30% off and 1 Men’s Table is also 30% off, so your student is sure to find something that will “wow!” the school without breaking the bank.

Cooper’s Makeup and Clothing is located at 241 S Center St, Suite 200 in the old Tripeny Building. Call 307-337-1521 or visit https://www.facebook.com/coopersmakeupandclothing/ for more information.

Of course, Cooper’s isn’t the only game in town when it comes to fashion.

1890 Screen & Stitch is located in the heart of The District, and it offers a bevy of hand-stitched clothing for the students who are proud to call their state ‘MYoming.’

1890 specializes in screen printing services, embroidery and direct to garment printing. With their screen printing, they use traditional plastisol or up-and-coming water-based inks to create a logo perfect for company logos, sports jerseys and more. They also utilize embroidery techniques to add logos or designs to shirts, hats, jackets or a multitude of other things. Basically, if you wear it, they can embroider it. Additionally, 1890 offers Direct to Garment printing services. DTG offers full-color screening imaging with maximum clarity and they can mass produce OR produce just a single shirt. Whatever the need is, 1890 can fulfill it because they are so passionate about the stories they are able to help create.

If your student is proud to be from Wyoming, is happy to shop local and wants to look really, really good, then 1890 is the place to go.

Scott Cotton, owner of 1890 said that the goal of his store was to provide “an opportunity to create Wyoming and enhance the lives of those who reside here.” 1890 isn’t creating beautiful clothes just for the sake of making a quick buck. They want their clothing to be more than just “stuff.” They want it to be a movement. They want those who wear their shirts to proudly say “I am from Wyoming, This is my state, my city, my home.”

1890 creates art that we get to wear, that’s all, and their clothes and accessories are perfect for the student who want to actually say something with what they wear.

1890 Screen & Stitch is located at 411 W. Yellowstone Hwy. Call 307-577-1890 (heh) or visit http://www.1890inc.com/ for more information.

Feel Good

Having a successful, memorable school year is about more than just looking good, however. Your student needs to feel good as well and that’s why Spruce Nail Bar is the perfect place to wind down, relax and recharge after an especially tough school year. Though it does serve alcohol (which is awesome), Spruce2 exists for men and women of all ages!

The services that Spruce offer are vast and varied. Their manicures and pedicures packages come in different levels (Spruce, Sprucer, Sprucest) and include therapeutic Himalayan salt bombs, hydrating body butters, foot masks and more.  Spruce also offers services for men and children, because beauty isn’t only important to women. After a hard week of school, after-school activities, before-school activities, out-of-town weekend activities and math class, like any math class, it’s important to take time to relax. You and your student(s) are able to do this at Spruce. Manicures, pedicures, body butters and more are the perfect ways to wind down after a helluva week. Bonus if you’re the parent: you can have a margarita or a glass of wine whilst being pampered. Because Spruce knows you need a break sometimes, too. That’s why Spruce Nail Bar exists- to allow you to relax while reminding you that you and your kiddos are beautiful. Looking good is important, but feeling good is even more important.

Spruce Nail Bar is located at 314 W. Midwest Avenue. Call 307-337-1091 or visit https://www.facebook.com/sprucenailbar for more information.

Make Memories

There was a picture floating around Social Mediums recently of a note that a teacher wrote to the parents of her students, in regards to homework. The teacher said that she is not issuing homework this year, as she believed it was more important for families to spend what little free time they have actually doing things as a family, instead of spending even MORE time doing schoolwork. This is a novel idea and, in a perfect world, would be something that all teachers would adopt.

It’s important to spend time together. The school year is busy for all parties involved, but let’s not forget to make time for each other. And there is no better place to do that than David Street Station.

David Street Station is “where Casper comes together.” It’s also where families come together. Every week, David Street Station provides a plethora of activities for families. Whether it’s a Family Game Night, Lunches on the Lawn (Every Monday at Noon), Family Movie Nights (over now, but still super cool), David Street Station is proud to be a place where families can gather and make memories together. There will undoubtedly be a new variety of fall/winter activities coming up at David Street Station, including the construction of a real-life, outdoor skating rink!

Spending time together is one of, if not the most key ingredient to success in school, work and life in general.  When your students are older, it’s not Tuesday’s math test or a science project in 7th grade that they will remember. It is the time that they spent with you, as a family, making memories.

And there is no better place to do that than at the David Street Station.

David Street Station is located, coincidently, at 200 S. David Street. Call 307-235-6710 or visit https://www.facebook.com/davidstreetstation/ for more information.

Of course, it’s one thing to make memories, but it’s almost equally important to capture those memories. Yes, most people use their camera phones to take cute videos and post them on InstaTweetBook or whatever, but phones get lost. Accounts get deleted. IClouds freakout and accidentally send the very intimate situation you shared with your girlfriend to your entire address book. I mean, maybe that just happened to me, but still. Preservation is key and we shouldn’t always count on the internet to provide that. Real life, honest-to-God, tangible photographs are extremely vital to preserving memories and the best place to find Casper’s best photography equipment is Wyoming Camera Outfitters. WCO specializes in a complete line of rental cameras, lenses and support equipment from some of the top brand names in the industry, like Canon, Tamron, Mindshift and more.

WCO also offers camera training courses, software workshops, lighting workshops, advanced photography lessons and more. They even have a portrait studio available for rent. They have warranties offered with every purchase as well.

A picture is worth a thousand words and if you want to really say something, do it with the equipment from Wyoming Camera Outfitters. They’re a retail shop, sure. But just like every other business in The District, their primary goal is to help you make memories.

Wyoming Camera Outfitters is located at 128 W. 2nd Street. Call 307-237-1223 or visit https://www.facebook.com/WyomingCameraOutfitters/ for more information.

And there you have it- The District’s Guide to Going Back to School. We know it can be stressful and that you and your students can get overwhelmed. But, in case you haven’t heard it lately, you’ve got this. It’s going to be a good year. You’re a good parent, even if the past three nights have been ‘leftovers night.’ They’re good kids even though their room looks worse than Chernobyl and they STILL HAVEN’T FED THE DAMN DOG!!!. You guys are going to be okay. If you check out some of the places on our list, they will look good and you both will feel good. And if you remember that you’re all in this crazy, stressful, overwhelming, beautiful thing called life together, and you’re able to laugh about it, you’ll be just fine. Thank you for letting The District be a part of your memories.  Have a great school year.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

The District is home to numerous adult-oriented venues. Bars, restaurants, art galleries, shops and more are all designed to give young adults and older adults alike an opportunity to experience an art culture previously unheard of in our fair city. Downtown Casper has been transformed into something resembling a sprawling Metropolis and there is truly something for everybody of all ages.

Which brings us to our next point. In our attempts to feature incredible bars such as The Office, Frosty’s and the Wonder Bar, or venues such as Yellowstone Garage, or shops such as Urban Bottle, perhaps we’ve forgotten to mention a very important aspect of The District.

Silly Rabbit, The District’s for Kids (Too!!!)

Yes, The District has a multitude of events and experiences that are guaranteed to put smiles on the faces of kids of all ages. These business entertain, educate and empower young people on a consistent basis and we are proud to have them in The District.

Of course, when one thinks of a business that both entertains and educates, one can’t help but think of The Science Zone.

The Science Zone

Per their website, “The Science Zone exists to inspire the mind, to delight the senses and to ignite a passion for the technical arts and sciences.”

That is exactly what they do on a daily basis. The Science Zone utilizes interactive exhibits, classes, field trips and more to open the eyes, minds, and hearts of children in Casper. They offer after-school classes, preschool programs, summer camps, birthday parties and even Lego Robotics to enrich the minds’ and speak to children where they’re at. The Science Zone team is full of teachers, scientists, and para-educators; all of whom have a passion for the arts and for children.

The Science Zone participates in the Art Walk every month and always has something exciting to offer- from Lego Robotics to computer programing and video game design to the study of honey bees! The Science Zone knows how important it is to make education fun. Education isn’t about tests and learning doesn’t have to be boring. The Science Zone knows this and proudly offers a wide array of activities and events, all designed to intrigue, educate and entertain.

That is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to events that The Science Zone puts on. They also offer Nights at the Museum, Spring Break Crash Courses and much, much more. Their “Trick or Treat Trail” has become a yearly highlight each October as well. For more information and to see just how much The Science Zone has to offer, visit their website- http://www.thesciencezone.org/ and be sure to like their Facebook Page- https://www.facebook.com/TheScienceZoneWY/

The Science Zone is open Monday-Saturday from 10am-5pm, from 10am-7pm on the first Thursday of every month and by appointment. Cost is only $3 for children and $4 for adults. Call 307-473-ZONE for with any questions!

Speaking of educational facilities that believe more in teaching than in test scores, The District is home to one of the most exciting, interesting and innovative education systems in Wyoming, and it is the next place we want to feature in our guide to Kids Activities in The District.

The Montessori School of Casper

For over 40 years, The Montessori School of Casper has been offering alternative, innovative ways of learning to the children of our city. Dr. Maria Montessori, from whom the school gained its namesake, was born in 1870 and became the first woman in Italy to earn a degree in both medicine and anthropology. Throughout her journey, she discovered something that many of us still haven’t realized: that learning is a natural process and is heavily influenced by the environment. Montessori spent her life advocating for and empowering young people, offering alternative means of learning because she believed that education should be about uncovering children’s “unique potential;” not about viewing children as “blank slates” to be filled by educators.

These ideas were game-changing, and they are what inspired the creation of The Montessori School of Casper. The Montessori School offers, ahem:

• Prepared kinesthetic, self-correcting materials

• Uninterrupted work cycles

• Multi-aged classrooms

• Mainly individual instruction

• Integrated subjects and learning based on developmental psychology

According to the Montessori website, “Children learn at their own pace and follow their own interests, based on helping the natural development of the human being. The children’s individual development brings its own reward and therefore motivation.”

YES! So much yes. There are 5 areas that make up the Montessori preschool classroom: Sensorial, Mathematical, Practical, Language and Cultural. Sign us up! I mean, you can’t. Cause we’re grownups and this is a preschool class. Still, though!

Montessori offers a preschool-Kindergarten program and it is a 501 ( c ) ( 3 ) non-profit. They rely entirely on donations, tuition, and volunteers. The ideas that this school offers are, in this writer’s opinion, paramount to a real education. This is not just testing and videos. It is a fully interactive, innovative way to give kids a REAL “Head Start.”

They are currently offering enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year and, if we’re being honest, this might be the most important place on our list. For more information, check out http://www.montessoriofcasper.com/ or call them at 307-265-0249.

Both The Science Zone and the Montessori School of Casper are fun and educational, but sometimes it’s okay to just have a little fun. When one thinks of fun in The District, one very quickly thinks of The Gaslight Social.

The Gaslight Social

Yes, the Gaslight Social is a bar. Yes, if Reese Witherspoon sees you with your children in a bar, she will judge you. But the Gaslight Social is not just a bar. It’s also an arcade. And as much as those of us in our 20’s and 30’s want to hold onto our childhood, arcades were built for kids. Luckily, The Gaslight understands this and welcomes it. Every Sunday of the week is designated as “family day.” Grownups can bring their families into the Gaslight at anytime during the day on Sunday and while they enjoy the amazing food and drinks that Gaslight offers, the kiddos can go play video games such as “Mario Kart,” “The Walking Dead,” “Pacman,” “Jurassic Park” and more!

There is nothing like being a kid in an arcade. Getting lost in the adventures that video games provide is something that cannot be compared to anything else. These days, video games can be played anywhere, on anything. Phones, tablets, iPads and other various handhelds make playing video games easier than ever. But there’s something to be said about going to an actual venue, putting in actual quarters, standing in front of a video game and trying to beat a high score. Nothing can compare to that and its something that is wholly unique to The Gaslight Social.

Yes, The Gaslight is a bar and it offers an escape for adults by providing them with delicious beverages. But kids have worries, too, and The Gaslight offers them a chance to escape from them for just a little bit to get lost inside of a video game.

For hours, events and more information, check out their Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/barcadeatery/?ref=br_rs

Videos games aren’t the only way for children to get lost in their imaginations, which brings us to our next venue.

The David Street Station

Of course, we couldn’t speak of activities for kids without talking about The David Street Station. As the glue that holds almost every aspect of The District together, The David Street Station offers a bevvy of entertainment for kids and grownups alike!

Whether it’s the newly-installed Splash Pad, Family Game Nights, Movie Nights, picnics or concerts, The David Street Station exists to bring families and the community together. The Splash Pad, in particular, was an amazing idea to cool off during these hot summer months. But, as summer turns to fall turns to winter, David Street Station, again, has something up their sleeves.

In December, The Station will be installing an ice skating rink. This is something that hasn’t been a part of Casper in years. An outdoor skating rink is like something out of the movies and we can only imagine the multitude of people who will be celebrating the Christmas season by ice skating at David Street Station, then going home to drink hot chocolate and read. That sounds like the perfect evening to us, and we cannot wait to spend Christmas at The District.

Even without the skating rink, though, The David Street Station has proven itself to be a hub of the greatest aspects of The District- there’s food, music, art, culture, games and, most importantly, community. We live in a very isolated culture these days. Families can be sitting in one room together, watching 5 different movies on 5 different devices and barely speak to each other. What The David Street Station is trying to accomplish is bringing both families, and the community, together. It exists to provide memories, that’s all.

And there you have it. Four (out of many!) places that prove The District is for kids, too! We highly recommend any and all of these establishments. If you’re looking for something new, something different, something fun, you can find it in The District. So take away the iPads and the reruns of Paw Patrol and take your kids outside to experience all that The District has to offer!

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

“They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy.
They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind.
I don’t care, I don’t care; so call me crazy.
We can live in a world that we design.”  –  The Greatest Showman

Fate. It’s a funny word, a funny idea. Some people scoff at it. ‘Ain’t nobody runs my life but me!’ one might say. Another might take comfort in the idea that their futures are in the hands of somebody, or something, else. Yet another, still, might be content in simply not knowing. For Jim and Karen Kanelos, owners of The Office Bar & Grill, fate was never something that either had ever really considered; at least, in regards to their own lives. Looking back, it’s funny- Jim Kanelos is a very proud Greek man. He believes in hard work and getting out of something what you put into it. He has always taken his life into his own hands and he lives in a world that he, himself, has designed. Fate was never given the chance, so it seems. Growing up in Wyoming, with a very orthodox Greek family, wasn’t always the easiest life. Jim and his family had struggles, just like any other family. But there was always work, always laughter, always love.

And there was always, always food.

Jim’s family had spent years in the restaurant business. His father, James Sr., actually owned what would later become ‘The Office.’ Until 1998, it was called ‘The Olympus’ and it was, to Jim, the greatest show on earth.

“I worked side by side with my dad, in this business, forever,” Jim said of his childhood. “His idea was to make a better life for his children. The biggest thing I have to prove, to myself and to my father, is that we can be successful if we work as hard as he has.”

“We did,” he continued.

Jim learned the restaurant business from the bottom up. He washed dishes, he bussed tables, he cooked a thousand Gyros. He loved it. He loved learning the family business. He loved living the restaurant lifestyle. More than anything, though, he loved working with his dad. Especially when he got a nod of approval.

“He’s never the kind of guy that’s gonna say ‘good job,’” Jim said of his father. “You see it in his eyes.”

While working with his dad, Jim noticed another set of eyes, as well. And they belonged to the former Karen Goodman.

“There’s a house we can build;
Every room inside is filled with things from far away.
Special things I compile;
Each one there to make you smile on a rainy day.”  – The Greatest Showman

When Karen met Jim, she was a fully-licensed cosmetologist, working as a hair stylist. “I loved it,” she said with a smile. She was good at it, too. But she was no stranger to the restaurant business herself, and it wouldn’t be long before she was called back to it. Karen’s grandparents owned a restaurant in her hometown of Cheyenne. As fate would have it, the restaurant, named after her grandfather, was called “Jim’s Café.”

“I grew up in the restaurant business as well,” Karen reminisced. “For all the years of my childhood, I worked with my grandparents.”

It’s really not surprising, then, that Karen would return to the restaurant business one day. What was surprising, to her at least, was for whom she would return. She initially turned him down. When Jim was introduced to Karen by a mutual friend, he was immediately smitten. To him, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Jim knew that he wanted Karen to be his from the moment he met her. But she was having none of it.

“I asked her out and she said no,” Jim remembered with a laugh. “Then, I asked her out again and she set up a date. And she cancelled. Then, I think I asked a third time.”

Again, she turned him down. Jim knew how to take a hint, as long as it was offered 2 or 3 times. He stopped asking and decided, perhaps for the very first time, to give fate a chance. If it was meant to happen, it would.

It did.

“She came into the restaurant one night and asked if I was working,” Jim said. “I went out and saw her and went ‘Wow, she could have gone anywhere, but she came here and asked for me? Alright, one more time.’ So I asked her out a fourth time.”

“Finally she said yes and then she wanted to marry me right after that,” he added.

While Jim and Karen began their courtship, Jim was also taking on more responsibility at the restaurant. Not content to just spend his evenings with Karen, one of the first big business decisions Jim made was to offer her a job.

“She was a hairdresser and I said ‘why don’t you come work for me?’” Jim stated. “And I talked her into it. She’s a people person and she works hard. What we love about the business is that the harder you work, the more it gives back to you. I’m a hard worker, and I’ll be the first to admit that she’s an even harder worker than me. Everyone in my family would even say that.”

Jim’s first decision was to hire Karen and everyone agreed it was a fantast idea. His second idea, however, was a bit more controversial.

“When [the restaurant] was on CY and Poplar, I can remember putting up the first TV,” Jim said. “My dad asked me, ‘What are you doing?’

I said ‘It’s a TV. For the customers.’

He said, ‘Why don’t you put one in the back for the dishwashers, too?’

When he saw me putting up movie posters and pictures, he said ‘Oh my goodness, what are you doing?’ Keep in mind, this is an old Greek guy.

I said ‘Trust me dad, trust me. I haven’t failed you yet, just trust me.” As soon as we started bringing more and more of that décor in and he saw how much people loved it, he got to the point that he actually enjoyed it as well.”

Jim said that the decision to put up all of the various Hollywood paraphernalia that he had collected over the years was made to entertain his customers. Some think, however, that it was done simply to make Karen smile. Both decisions, those of decorating the restaurant and hiring Karen, were two of the best business decisions Jim could have made. While it took his father some time to come around on the decorum, he was immediately just as smitten with Karen as Jim Jr. was. This was because Karen was not only beautiful; she was also one of the hardest working, kindest people both Jims had ever met.

“I saw how hard she worked and how friendly she was with the customers,” Jim said of Karen. “She just has those gifted social skills. Honestly, somebody could come who just had the worst day of their lives and they could talk with Karen and, all of a sudden, they just have a different outlook.”

Karen was special. Jim knew it the moment he met her. And he didn’t intend to waste any more time wondering. Fate had made good, and he wasn’t going to question it.

“I had never been married or engaged before, but after a couple of weeks, I looked at her and said ‘you’re the girl I’m going to marry.’”

It wasn’t too long after that prophetic statement was made, that it came to fruition. Karen and Jim were married in 1992 and in those 25 years, there have been struggles and celebrations. There have been peaks and valleys. But there has always been work, there has always been laughter, there has always been love.

And there has always, always been food.

Karen and Jim bought The Olympus from Jim’s dad in 1998. They renamed it ‘Karen and Jim’s’ and for the next 20 years, that’s exactly what it has been. Karen and Jim’s featured various insights into their lives and their family. It was, for all intents and purposes, an extension of their home. In 2004, Karen and Jim’s moved from the corner of CY and Poplar to its current location, right in the middle of The District. It was an institution of The District before The District even existed. With its movie posters and pictures and statues and replicas, Karen and Jim’s was a labor of love in every sense of the word. It was their baby before they had babies. But babies grow up. Times change and so, too, did Karen and Jim’s.

“When [the state of Wyoming] came to us and said they’d like to buy our property, our first question was ‘why?’” Jim stated. “They told us about the state building [which would have] about 350-400 employees. We explained to them that we’d be fools to sell because, well, state employees like to have lunch. They like to enjoy themselves after work. So right away we thought that we needed to come up with a new concept to accommodate our surroundings.”

That new concept was ‘The Office.’ It has less ‘flare’ than Karen and Jim’s did, but it has just as much heart. It also has windows and a patio and a new menu and a new bar and some of the best employees in The District, all of whom were trained by Karen and Jim themselves.

“If our employees aren’t happy and attentive and knowledgeable and on the ball, we won’t be successful,” Jim said. “But they are. We work with them non-stop to try to bring them to that level, to where they’re just like Karen out front.”

“And they’re just like Jim in the kitchen,” Karen added.

Having such a great team doesn’t mean that Jim and Karen are just sitting in the back counting money, however. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. One of them is there all day, every single day, working just as hard in the kitchen or behind the bar or on the floor.

“By us being here and keeping an eye on everything, we’re ready to jump in at any time behind the bar, behind the grill, bus tables, refill a drink, get you another Ranch; whatever it is, we’re here for that and our employees see that and our employees appreciate that,” Jim said.

“They’re incredible,” Karen said of their team.

Jim agreed. “They’re what make this business.”

Karen and Jim are very proud of their restaurant and of their employees. Karen is quick to offer encouragement to the team, with a kind word or a bright smile. Jim is a bit more subtle. He doesn’t heap praise with his words every single day, but his employees know when they’re making him proud.

They can see it in his eyes. If the employees of The Office make up the body of the business, then Karen is the heart and Jim is the soul. In fact, The Office could be considered to be the heart and soul of The District. This is especially true when any events are taking place in Downtown Casper. The Office is one of the first to help promote other businesses and various events that are constantly occurring in The District. Karen and Jim didn’t expect The District to become what it is, but they’re eager to see what it becomes.

“There’s more potential right now, downtown, than there ever has been,” Jim said. “To be quite honest, I don’t think we’ve seen half of what downtown is going to be.”

“However big, however small, let me be part of it all.
Share your dreams with me.
You may be right, you may be wrong;
Just say that you’ll bring me along
To the world you see.”  – The Greatest Showman

Before Jim Kanelos met Karen Goodman, he never thought much about fate. Jim was a man of action; he got it from his father. He believed that you get out of what you put into something. This was something he applied to his work and to his life in general. It was how he and his dad built the restaurant. But there are some things you can build and some things that just are. Karen and Jim’s, the restaurant, was something that was built- with years of hard work, blood, sweat, tears and Tzatziki sauce. Karen and Jim, the couple, well…that was written in the stars. Their relationship; it just is. Fate chose to bring Karen and Jim together because it knew the magic that would come from the pairing. That magic reveals itself every time Jim steals a kiss from Karen behind the bar, every time Karen smiles at a customer who has had a bad day, every time somebody comes into The Office for the first time and immediately feels like they are home. Looking at the bar or at their relationship, there is no denying that Karen and Jim have built something special together. Whether it was designed by fate, hard work or maybe a little bit of both, one thing cannot be denied and it was Karen who put it best:

‘We could never do it without each other.”

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins & McKenna Paulley

When Mrs. Bruce told her son Jam, along with his friends Hawk, Trip and Lex that it was “about time that you gave up that STUPID dream of yours once and for all!” because “no son of mine is gonna be a career musican…ever ever EVER!” she immediately painted herself as the main antagonist of the 70’s Throwback film Detroit Rock City. Parents were the enemy, man. They wanted to control you. They wanted to stop your dreams. They wanted to save your soul before it was offered to the Knights In Satan’s Service. Parents just didn’t get it.

In retrospect, it shouldn’t have been that surprising. When Hairball, a Glam Rock-Hairband-Pop Rock –Pretty Much Any 80’s Band Ever cover band was announced to play at The Gaslight Social on August 10th, 2018 it was assumed that it would be a success. 80’s Nostalgia is in full swing thanks to television shows, movies and, yes, music that have been influenced by, arguably, one of the greatest decades in the modern era.

It was not surprising, then, that there would be a HUGE crowd on that Friday night in August. What was surprising, but shouldn’t have been, was just who that crowd consisted of.

Since it’s opening in 2017, The Gaslight Social has been a hub of 20-30 somethings looking for a good time. While Gaslight has always claimed to be ‘open to all-ages,’ even going so far as to promote ‘Family Days’ on Sundays, the ‘typical’ Gaslight crowd has generally been full of Millennials. One needed to look no further than the arcade to see who Gaslight typically catered to.

But this wouldn’t do.

Perhaps wanting to remind everybody that Gaslight was, indeed, for everybody, the owners decided to book ‘Hairball,” a band that claims to be more than just a mere tribute- they were an event. This was proven in spades on August 10th as KISS took the stage and, if you didn’t know any better, you would swear that it was The Demon, The Starchild, The Spaceman and The Catman themselves rocking said stage. As the band morphed into Guns ‘N Roses, Twisted Sister, Aerosmith, Prince, Queen and more on that night, the crowd at Gaslight was taken back in time and, in a world full of easily digestible, homogenized, catered-to-the-lowest-common-denominator types of songs, they were reminded just how much music could rock.

Hairball at The Gaslight was truly an event. It was an experience. There were lights, cameras and a ton of action. It was magic, really. But the most magical thing about this night was not the band.

It was the crowd.

Panning the crowd, one would have expected to see the usual mix of Gaslight regulars- people between the ages of 21-30, with their heads buried in their cell phones. But this wasn’t the case. This show, this concert, this experience; it wasn’t for them and they knew it. It was for the people who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. It was for the people who didn’t want to record this concert; they wanted to remember it. It was for the people who had to hide their KISS records in Donny Osmond covers. It was for the people who swore to themselves that they were never going to be like their parents. Those people are who made up the majority of the crowd at The Gaslight on Friday and, for one blissful evening, they weren’t grownups with bills to pay and families to raise.  They were kids again and the only thing they had to care about was the music, man.

As Hairball took the stage, playing all the hits from the greatest era the music industry has ever seen, it wasn’t 2018 anymore. For one night only, thanks to The Gaslight Social, it was 1978. It was the greatest bands in the world. It was a raised fist and a “f*ck you” and a smile. For one night only, it wasn’t a random summer evening in Casper, Wyoming.

It was Detroit Rock City.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

It’s been said that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Is it?

For Jamie Moralez and Trisha Henriksen, owners of Spruce Nail Bar in Casper, beauty was always about more than mere aesthetics. Moralez is the former owner of Artisan Alley and had been promoting beauty through art for years before she approached Henriksen, a radiation therapist at the time, about opening a nail salon.

From the start, Moralez was determined to make sure that her nail salon was unlike any other nail salon in town. She wanted to be different. She wanted to be bold. She wanted to offer more than just manicures and pedicures. She wanted to give women (and men, too!) a chance to fully realize how beautiful they actually are. Henriksen shared this sentiment, and the idea for Spruce was born.

Spruce Nail Bar (or Spruce2), opened in October of 2017, and though there have been a few hiccups that come with any new business, it’s safe to say Moralez and Henriksen have achieved exactly what it was they set out to achieve. They have opened a nail salon (let’s call it a nail bar, thank you) that serves up beauty, nails and cocktails.

Wait, what?

Because Spruce is attached to The Gaslight Social, it falls under the liquor license that was purchased by owner Matt Galloway. He offered Moralez space in the building and challenged her to do something great with it.

She and Henriksen did, and in doing so, they created an experience unlike any other in town.

There are many aspects of Spruce Nail Bar that differentiate it from other salons in town. The products, for one, are all natural.

“We’re natural,” Henriksen boasted. “We only use products here that are chemical free. All of our scrubs are locally hand-made and they’re amazing.”

In addition to chemical-free products, Spruce also offers a different technique for cleaning.

“We use an autoclave which is a sterilizing technique that is medical-grade,” Henriksen stated. “It’s not required by the state of Wyoming, but it makes the tools a little extra clean. We don’t have whirlpool tubs because they can harbor a lot of infection. We’re really, really clean. We try to be as natural as we possibly can. We don’t do acrylic nails just because of the chemicals in them.”

The services that Spruce offer are vast and varied. Their manicures and pedicures packages come in different levels (Spruce, Sprucer, Sprucest) and include therapeutic Himalayan salt bombs, hydrating body butters, foot masks and more.  Spruce also offers services for men and children, because beauty isn’t only important to women.

If the products aren’t enough to sufficiently set them apart, the fact that one can enjoy a glass of wine or a margarita while getting pampered certainly does. The excellent staff from Gaslight serve up cocktails to Spruce patrons and the whole system offers up a unique experience for those whom are okay with being a little “extra.”

Spruce Nail Bar also houses Southern Flare Lashes and Central Wyoming Medical Aesthetics within the confines of their colorful walls. Southern Flare is the brainchild of Alyssa Navarro and she offers up a multitude of services, including eyelash work, facials, dermaplaning, waxing, spray tanning, permanent makeup, microdermabrasion and more. CWMA specializes in cool sculpting, fillers & injections, tattoo removal, Trusculpt and more. Everybody involved in this process, from the girls at Spruce, to Alyssa, to CWMA and even the employees at The Gaslight all delight in making somebody look and feel as beautiful as outside as they are inside. They all work together to achieve this, to provide something new and different, and the results have been…unexpected, to say the least.

“This business model is new to Casper,” Henriksen said. “We had a lot of people say, ‘this will never work, you guys shouldn’t do it, don’t spend the money.’”

“We like to show them our schedule every day and it makes us feel better,” Henriksen stated with a sly grin.

Spruce Nail Bar is booked solid. Henriksen said appointments are booked at least a week out, but that the results are more than worth the wait. With the variety of pampering techniques available at Spruce, this is truly something that everybody should experience at least once, regardless of sex, status or shyness.

Toni Antonovich is the manager and a fully-licensed cosmetologist at Spruce, and she stated that they are “a judgement free zone.”

“It doesn’t matter what your feet look like, we are here to make you look and feel beautiful,” Antonovich said. “Come in, have a glass of wine and enjoy yourself while it happens.”

When Jamie and Trisha first started developing the idea of Spruce2, they wanted to create an environment that was comfortable and fun. They wanted a place where somebody could walk in and immediately be treated like an old friend.

From the moment that they walk in, we greet them, and we let them pick out their colors and we let them pick out their lotion,” Henriksen said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily what you tell somebody- it’s how you make them feel throughout the whole process of it. Be engaging if they want you to be engaging, or don’t be if they want to just sit back and relax.”

Spruce was designed to be a place that made clients look and feel like their best selves. It was designed to be a place that promoted friendship, self-worth and, yes, beauty, nails and cocktails. Henriksen summed up the mission statement of Spruce with one sentence, and it is an idea that is echoed by everybody involved.

“Things that every woman should know: Every single person is beautiful, we just help highlight it.”

We want to believe that when Margaret Wolfe Hungerford first wrote that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” in her book, Molly Bawn, she had the best of intentions. But is beauty actually in the eye of the beholder? No, it is not. True beauty comes from within and when a person walks through the doors of Spruce Nail Bar to get #AllSprucedUp, they will feel as though they are being welcomed home. And that, that is the true beauty of Spruce.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

There was an idea (Casper knows this) called The District. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable businesses, to see if they could become something more; to see if they could work together when we needed them to; to provide the entertainment that we never could. Phil Coulson died, still believing in that idea- in The District.

Okay, yes. That monologue was lifted from The Avengers and this writer, while equally bald and beautiful, is no Sam Jackson. I’m not allowed to call anybody a “mother f*cker,” even for the sake of an article.

What I have been allowed to do, however, is disrupt the offices of The District (yes, there are more than one) like HYDRA infiltrating SHIELD. I asked the tough questions. I went behind the scenes to see what The District was all about. As the head writer of this entity, I felt both entitled and adequately equipped to provide a glimpse into this group of Illuminati-esque creators and their creation, that of The District. It was a hard, thankless job. But I put on my armor, took up my shield and brought the proverbial hammer down as I asked these important questions:

Who/What/When/Where/Why is The District?

  • Who is The District

According to the creators and, yes, there is more than one, the people behind The District don’t matter. It’s what is happening in The District that’s important.

“People are too worried about who is doing what,” said one of the anonymous creators. “This was an idea to help Casper without having to name drop to do it. Support the cause, not the names.”

One of the other men or women behind the curtain stated that the idea to keep the backers of The District anonymous was made to “keep things interesting.  It also keeps bias and preconceived notions out of the picture.”

This person continued, saying that “Everyone wants to know who’s behind The District, but why? Why does it matter? People should form their opinions on the intent and purpose for the community, with no vested interest in who’s behind it.”

Well, that gave us no answers. But here’s what I can say. The District is not overseen by one bar, restaurant, business, etc. It is not “ran by the city.” It is very much a rogue, autonomous, anonymous movement, designed simply to help bring Downtown Casper businesses closer together and closer to the community.

 

  • What is The District?

Going along with that sentiment, The District is a gathering place for businesses, artists, musicians, writers and more. It is a tool used to make the community aware of events, to shine a spotlight on the incredible talent in Downtown Casper and to be a “hub” for people to stay informed and involved in all that the Old Yellowstone District has to offer. It is a website, but it is also a statement. It’s a testament to the phenomenal events, activities and artists that exist within these lines.

One of its creators said The District is “An 8 block radius of what we consider to be the most cultural part of downtown.”

Another stated that The District was an area “centered around David Street Station that incorporates part of the Yellowstone District and part of Downtown Casper.”

It is a creation rooted in history and it both honors said history and looks towards the future with every story it publishes, every event it highlights, every artist that it features.

The David Street Station is “where Casper comes together,” but The District is what points them in the right direction.

  • When was The District Created?

The idea for The District came long before it was actually put into fruition. It was created with the intent to “serve Casper,” according to one of its creators. “We wanted to give back to the community and help serve all the efforts that are going on to make downtown more vibrant.”

In its short existence, The District has done just that, publishing events every week that are happening downtown, as well as providing feature stories on businesses like The Office Bar & Grill, Coopers Makeup & Clothing, Sherrie’s Place and more. Additionally, The District has done stories on artists such as Maria Rose Wimmer, musicians like Zach Schommer and local legends like John Huff. The District has only been on the scene for a little over a year, but it has already become the beacon for what’s happening and who it’s happening to in Downtown Casper.

  • Where is The District?

The lines were drawn and it was decided that The District would encompass the area from Center Street to Elm Street from East to West and 2nd Street to Collins Street from North to South. In this area are a plethora of shops, restaurants, bars and art galleries. Bars and restaurants like the Gaslight Social, the C85 Wonder Bar, Yellowstone Garage and more provide Downtown Casper with food and drink that is incomparable. Shops such as Wyoming Camera Outfitters and Cooper’s Makeup & Clothing provide community members with the best clothes, makeup and camera equipment in Casper and beyond.

And then, of course, there is The David Street Station. This venue is the true beacon of Downtown Casper (and no, they didn’t pay me to say that). It began last summer with the Eclipse Festival, and it continues to provide the coolest events almost every week. Farmers Markets, concerts, game nights, movie nights, picnics- The David Street Station has and does it all and it will only get better the longer it stands. None of this could be possible without the community, however, and it is the community that will continue to determine the success of the David Street station, of every bar, restaurant and shop, and of The District itself.

  • Why is The District a Thing?

The biggest question, of course, is why? Why was The District created? Why do the creators spend the time and money necessary to make it stand out and really be something special? Why does The District exist?

The simple answer is, because nothing else like it already did. Sure, there were events pages produced by the city or, God forbid, “the government,” but the idea of The District is to incorporate all of the interesting, beautiful, powerful things and people that make up Downtown Casper. The District has done that. It will continue to do that. It will continue to be a resource for the community and it will continue to feature the amazing artists, musicians and business owners of our great city.

So, who is The District? That’s easy. You are. I am. They are, too. All of us, every single person that believes in the arts, believes in culture, believes in community- that is who The District is.

At least, that’s the idea.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

This is it, he told himself.  He shouldn’t be nervous. He’s practiced this a thousand times at home, in the mirror. He knew what he wanted to do; no, he knew what he needed to do, and he was going to do it. He took a deep breath, walked up to his boss and took his fate into his own hands.

“I quit,” he said.

When Zack Schommer took a job at AT&T, he knew it wasn’t going to be a forever thing. It was a means to an end; a way to pay the bills while he pursued his dream. Real artists have day jobs, so the saying goes. This was Schommer’s and it was a good job. He liked his boss and the people he worked with. He enjoyed talking with the customers. It was fine, for what it was. But it wasn’t his future. It wasn’t his dream.

It wasn’t music.

Zack didn’t always want to be a musician. When he was younger, he wanted to be a pro skateboarder. Tony Hawk was the face of a generation and he inspired countless young men and women to throw on their helmets and knee pads and kick flip themselves into the spotlight. Zack was a good skateboarder, but as he was practicing, he noticed his brother had started to develop his own hobby.

Zack’s brother had recently taken up guitar and it wasn’t long before Zack himself wanted to follow in big brother’s footsteps.  When he was 15, Zack picked up a bass guitar for the very first time. A lightbulb didn’t go off and a choir of angels didn’t start singing “Hallelujah.” But it was an important moment for Zack and for the rest of his family.


After noticing that both of his boys were gravitating towards music, Zack’s dad decided to slap the bass as well. Suddenly, this hobby had turned into a way to bond a family even closer together and that, perhaps, is why Zack has such a fondness for music. Originally, according to Zack, there were even talks about going all “Partridge Family” and starting a family band.

“I thought I was going to play drums at first, just to complete the trifecta,” Schommer remembered. “I looked into trying to figure out how to play drums and didn’t quite like it so I picked up my dad’s bass guitars that he had accumulated over the years and played what he was learning, like 12-bar Blues and then I started learning stuff that I wanted to know.”

And that was how it went for a while- father and son playing bass, while Zack’s brother continued to play acoustic guitar. Then, one day when everybody else was out of the house, Zack picked up one of his dad’s acoustic guitars. And, again, it wasn’t a lightbulb and it wasn’t a choir singing and it wasn’t a lightning bolt. But it was something, and Zack knew it.

Like any young man who has just discovered that he has musical ability, Zack did what any of us would do; he used it to impress girls.

In addition to playing guitar and singing, Schommer started writing various songs as well. Admittedly, the majority of them were “about a girl,” and they were heavily influenced by bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, Dashboard Confessional and other bands.

“It seems like most of my original songs are kind of based off of women and heartbreak and that sort of thing,” Schommer admitted. “I’d love to get more out of that. That’s the kind of stuff that people relate to; it’s the kind of stuff that I always related to when I was growing up, listening to certain music.”

It’s been said that the best way to get over a girl is to turn her into art, and that’s exactly what Schommer did early in his career. Music was an outlet for him, just like skateboarding was previously. It was a way for him to express himself and, from the first note he played, he was hooked.

Schommer dabbled with various bands and other acts, but he knew pretty quickly that if he wanted to progress as an artist at the rate in which he wanted, he would have to do it on his own.

“I’ve dabbled with friends and stuff with electric and trying to start bands,” Schommer said. “It’s difficult to get people to work on the same level, ya know? I found it easier to progress with myself more so than with a band.”

Schommer began to take note of other solo acts as well. Local musicians like Chad Lore and John Kirlin were huge influences on Schommer when he started out. Another musician that Schommer admired is now the front man for one of The District’s coolest bands, Ford and Fossil.

“Jason Ford used to play acoustic music with a guy back in Douglas,” Schommer remembered. “I saw him when I was a kid and he was one of the first ones that made me want to play acoustic shows as well.”

Surrounded by influences, Schommer began to ply his craft in a variety of coffee shops and, when he was old enough, bars. Sadly, that was the extent of the venues that Downtown Casper had to offer at the time.

Now, however, is a different story. There are still coffee shops like Metro or Crescent Moon, which is great. There are bars like Frosty’s and the Wonder Bar as well. Schommer has played all of those to various degrees of success, but there are also venues like ART 321 or Frontier Brewery or Yellowstone Garage or the David Street Station. All of these venues were designed to give artists a platform and that’s something that Schommer does not take lightly.

“The David Street Station is a beautiful venue to play and I think a lot of people, even in Colorado or Montana would want to come down and play something like this,” Schommer stated.

“It trumps the whole tall tale of people saying there’s nothing to do in Casper,” he continued. With the development of downtown, it opens up way more opportunities for this kind of stuff; especially for musicians. It opens up more opportunity for them to play monthly and be consistent.”

Zack has made the most of the opportunities that he’s been given. When Schommer first picked up a guitar, he didn’t know that he would eventually become a mainstay in, and a highlight of, The District. He didn’t picture huge crowds gathered in an atrium, waiting to hear him play. He just wanted to play.

That’s all he’s wanted to do, ever since he picked up that first guitar all those years ago. He never thought that this could be, gasp, a career. But that’s exactly what it has become. He knows, though, that in order to take his career to the next level, he needs to focus completely on it.

“I’m not a huge writer but I try to write sometimes,” he said. “I wrote an EP last year and released it during the eclipse and we sold 150 CD’s in 2 days during that weekend, which was pretty awesome. Since then, I haven’t had the time to write anymore stuff, but that’s why I’m trying to push away a day job and continue to focus on music.”

And that is how he found himself face to face with his boss at AT&T. He gave his notice, shook his boss’ hand and proceeded to take the next step, in his career and in his life.

Which led him to this moment.

This is it, he told himself.  He shouldn’t be nervous. He’s practiced this a thousand times at home, in the mirror. He knew what he wanted to do; no, he knew what he needed to do, and he was going to do it. He took a deep breath, walked onto the stage at The David Street Station, took a guitar in his hands and started to play. 

And, if fate allows, he’ll never stop.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

When those words were spoken to Ray Kinsella at his farmhouse in Iowa, he had no idea what to make of it. “If I build what, who will come?” he wondered to himself. He had a thousand questions, but the only answer he received was “if you build it, he will come.” So, he got to work. He transformed his cornfield into something bigger, something brighter, something better. It was a baseball field, and it would play host to the dreams of legends.

For John Huff, owner of Yellowstone Garage in Casper, WY, a similar message was spoken to him: “If you restore it, they will come.”

The building always called to him. The area has always been home. From even as far back as the 1970’s, Huff was a fixture of the Old Yellowstone District.

“When I was a kid, I worked over here on the corner of Midwest and Yellowstone and did oil changes on Gremlins and Hornets and Matadors,” Huff reminisced.  “This neighborhood is not foreign to me. This was a Lincoln Mercury dealership back then.”

The Mercury dealership was but one iteration of the Yellowstone Garage. It has also been a gas station, a mechanic’s shop and much more. If walls could talk, the interior of Yellowstone Garage could tell stories for days. When Huff was a kid, he would sneak glances at the building while he washed and waxed cars. The building was always beautiful to him and he knew that one day, it would be his.

“I liked this building because it had a cool glass front,” Huff stated. “There’s no other building in Casper like this building and I always kind of had a soft spot for it and one day it popped up for sale in 2004, so I went to work.”

Not yet knowing just how much work it would eventually take, Huff approached then-owner, the late Bob Trippin and told him he was interested in purchasing it.

 

“I told him I wanted it and I don’t think he really believed I was serious,” Huff said with a laugh. “He started showing it to somebody else a couple days later and I went, ‘no, I’m taking this.’”

When Huff bought the Yellowstone Garage in ’04, it was originally intended to be a showcase for his collection of muscle cars.

“I was gonna fix it up and have a man cave space,” Huff admitted. “At that point in time, nobody had done anything in this neighborhood. This was a rundown, dumpy part of town. It wasn’t a place you wanted to hang out at after dark.”

Huff knew what this area was, but he also saw what it could potentially be. And that’s when he heard the voice.

“If you restore it, they will come.”

So, he did.

“I started working on it and realized it was in bad shape and needed a lot of work, so over the next 3-4 years, I spent a lot of time, money, blood, sweat and tears on it,” Huff stated. “As I’m doing that, everyone else decided that ‘Wow, this neighborhood is kinda cool!’”

Suddenly, the “dumpy side of town” bore witness to something interesting. Nostalgia was in full effect, as pure as baseball and apple pie. People saw that Huff was building something great out of a building that had almost been forgotten about. But they started to remember.

Huff said that “A lot of people stopped by over the course of me working [on the building] and said ‘Man, I used to work here- I sold cars in there, my dad sold cars in there, my dad painted cars.’” A lot of older guys in town worked here, fixing cars. There’s a lot of local history to this place.”

Huff set about restoring and preserving some of that history. As he did that, he realized that this idea could be bigger than just a garage for his cars. He realized that he could offer something, really offer something to the community.

“If you restore it, they will come.”

Being that cars had always been Huff’s first love, he decided to start promoting annual car show as his first big event. He hired Garijo Brierley to handle the promotion and execution of various events, with a Memorial Day Car Show being the highlight.

“We did one every year for several years and then the Car Club said ‘Hey, do you mind if we come down?’” Huff stated. “They’ve been coming here for 7 or 8 years now and the Oil Capitol Auto Club have been coming here ever since. We throw a big party for them, feed everybody and have some music and entertainment. This last Saturday was probably the biggest one we’ve ever had.”

May 26th and 27th, 2018 was a big weekend for Yellowstone Garage. They hosted their Memorial Day Car Show (lovingly referred to simply as ‘Car Show’ by YG’s employees) and it was, in a word, huge.

“Last year, we were busy” started Yellowstone Garage’s Bar Manager, Forristt Andress. “This year we were even busier. I got here at 5:45am and I was the first person here, but everyone else got here at 6:00am. It was packed all day long.”

Car enthusiasts from all over Wyoming and surrounding states gathered for food, fumes and tunes at the Yellowstone Garage. The District was backed up for blocks, as classic cars adorned Downtown Casper. It was truly a sight to behold, and it offered validation to the message John Huff was given all those years ago. People were coming, and they were coming in droves. The Yellowstone Garage had become a destination.

“I think the best part about Car Show is that it’s so focused on Yellowstone Garage,” Andress said. “We collab with all of the other businesses down here; we do the 3rd Thursday Pub Crawl, we do the Art Walk, but Car Show is ours. It’s not the Yellowstone Garage Car Show, but it’s a car show that we do at the Yellowstone Garage. To me, that’s the coolest part about it- the amount of people that turn up, people from out of town, the fact that we get so many cars when there’s not even a registration. Our turnout was fantastic. It’s fun for everybody, I think.”

In addition to the car shows, Yellowstone Garage also offers weekly Summer events called “Rock the Block,” which always produces a fantastic turnout as well. Years ago, Huff and Brierley collaborated to create something that would bring the community together, celebrating local artists, musicians, food vendors and more. It also offered the community a chance to celebrate its history.

Huff had purchased a liquor license that was up for grabs, and Yellowstone Garage was now becoming an events venue, a bar and a restaurant. People were responding in kind, and his idea had a domino effect on the rest of Downtown Casper. Other business owners were taking notice and they wanted a piece of the pie. Huff noticed this and welcomed it.

Venues like the David Street Station, the Gaslight Social and more were built. The Art Walk and the Third Thursday Downtown Crawl were created. All of a sudden, Downtown Casper had transformed into something that people wanted to spend a significant amount of time in. For Huff, there couldn’t have been a better outcome.

“It’s a community-minded thing, where everybody gets a little bit,” Huff offered. “It’s a big deal, it really is. I mean, I think that building community is as important as anything down here and I do try to get along with my neighbors.”

Huff has been somewhat of a Godfather to The District. He was the first to see the potential in the area. He was the first to produce weekly or monthly or yearly events. He was the first one to transform the “wrong side of the tracks” into something that could offer an experience for the entire family. He was, in reality, the first one to really see what Downtown Casper had the potential to be.

When Huff originally purchased the Yellowstone Garage, he didn’t intend for it to be a siren song to Downtown Casper. He just wanted a place for his cars. But then he heard a voice whisper that if he restored it, the people would come. Huff decided to give something back to the community that he has called home for more than 40 years. He continues to give back to the community as well, supporting local fundraisers, auctions and more. The Yellowstone Garage even donated $1,000 to the Science Zone during their car show. Huff and the rest of the crew at Yellowstone Garage know how important they are to the community, and how important the community is to them. They want to continue to produce events that will bring people downtown to sample all the things that make The District special. Downtown is full of restaurants and bars and art galleries and shops and they were all inspired by John Huff and his garage. They were all designed to turn The District into something bigger, something brighter, something better.

They were all built on a field of dreams.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Each month, The District will focus on an artist and/or a musician that is an integral part of Downtown Casper. These men and women are incredibly talented people who represent everything The District is about. They are passionate, driven, community-minded folks with a song to sing or a story to tell and they believe in what The District exists to be- a diverse area in Casper that gives artists opportunities. This month, we are featuring artist Maria Rose Wimmer.

The two most important things to ever happen to Maria Rose Wimmer happened in high school. High school is when she realized she wanted to be an artist. It is also when she met her husband. These two events are so inextricably linked, so etched in her memory, it was as if her life was a blank canvas and somebody, somewhere, drew a portrait of a love story and gave it to her.

Though the story of Maria and her husband is one in and of itself, this is still a love story. It’s a story about a girl, about art and about the passion and hard work of a local artist who never, in a million years, thought that Casper, Wyoming would be a veritable hotbed for artists and art. This is a love story, and it began when Maria was 12 years old.

Once upon a time, as the fable goes, there was a girl with a pencil and a blank sheet of paper. Wimmer had been drawing for quite a while when she won a contest in 6th grade. It was the first acknowledgment of her talent, and it was all the affirmation she needed to continue. While other girls her age started to notice, and be noticed, by boys, Wimmer was too focused on drawing the world around her to pay attention to the boys in it.

That passion followed Wimmer throughout the majority of her early life, but as high school approached, art had swiftly and softly been placed into the back of her mind. It never left her heart, however, and it wasn’t long before it called her back.

“I got grounded in high school and as part of my punishment, my parents made me do something constructive and I started taking private art lessons,” Wimmer confessed.

Innovative and awesome parenting methods aside, that “punishment” was what led Wimmer back into the art world. She never looked back.

As part of a project for a Public Speaking class she was taking, Wimmer had brought in a painting she made. She was walking to her class and was stopped by the high school AP Art teacher. That was the moment that her entire life changed.

“I had to bring a painting from home to my Public Speaking class,” Wimmer started. “The AP Art teacher saw me with my painting and walked with me to my Public Speaking class and said ‘Maria can’t be in this class anymore; she has to go to AP Art.’”

Maria smiled at the memory and said, “I almost started crying; I felt so special at that point.”

That was the moment that her life changed forever. It was when she finally, truly realized that art was her calling, her gift and her future.

When Wimmer graduated high school, she had no idea that her life and her talents would lead her to Casper, Wyoming. She wasn’t even really sure what, or where, she wanted to be.

“I actually got a degree; not in art, but in art history,” she said. “Which is kind of funny because I panicked and was like ‘Well, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a job after you get a degree in art,’ so I thought [to myself], ‘The world needs more historians.’”

The history of art is almost as fascinating as the creation of art. Wimmer has spent years studying everything that has come before her. It’s been said that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” but sometimes, just sometimes, it’s okay to repeat history.

“I’m always thinking about [the history],” Wimmer asserted. “I think any serious artist knows art history, because you’re always borrowing other people’s ideas; whether you know them or not, you are. It’s better to know where your ideas come from so that you can build upon the art from the past and come up with your own ideas, hopefully.”

Wimmer, herself, has come up with a plethora of ideas in her life as an artist. Perhaps the most fascinating, and the most unique idea is one that she came up with 2 ½ years ago. Wimmer made a pledge to herself, along with fellow artist Gabby Reeves, that she would draw one portrait or picture a day, every day.

Because of her daily devotion to drawing, Wimmer stated that she has “progressed so dramatically over the course of these past few years. Now I have to draw every day.”

“Drawing has probably been the most natural to me at this point because every single day I draw,” she continued. “I haven’t missed a day.”

When asked where her inspiration comes from (artists and writers hate this question; the answer is: they know that they don’t know), Wimmer said that she “tend[s] to be more interested in interior lives; my own interior lives, the imagined interior lives of others.”

“I do a lot of portraits and I try to, as I’m drawing a person, imagine who they are and what they are and what motivates them. I try to bring that out but it’s, of course, my own interpretation of that person, not necessarily their reality.”

What would the world look like if we applied the same idea to our everyday lives and interactions that Wimmer applies to her art? Would it even resemble our current landscape, or would it be more like ‘Life on Mars?’

Perhaps Bowie was onto something with that song, and its music and career that have greatly impacted Wimmer’s own. So much so, that it’s her drawing of Ziggy Stardust himself that she holds closest to her heart.

“When David Bowie died, I tried to do a drawing of him that day and I had just started my daily drawing practice,” Wimmer said. “It was a mess. A year later, I tried it again and I got it right. For some reason, that was a good gauge for me and that one piece showed me how far I had come. I have a few people that I draw annually, but his was a good way to measure my growth.”

It is imperative that one allows oneself to grow as an artist, to always be studying, to always be changing. Wimmer has always been open to change, which is why she and her husband moved to Casper in the first place. While she was, at first, dismayed and disenchanted by the lack of culture in Casper, she stuck it out. For this, she was rewarded greatly; with opportunities to display her work, with friends that she never would have met had she not moved here and with the chance to help turn Downtown Casper into thriving district that it is today. For Maria and her husband, though, that wasn’t always the case.

“When we moved here, we were so depressed with the arts community,” Wimmer remembered. “We said we were only going to be here 2 years and then we’re going. Then, we met Zach Pullen, when he had Corridor, and he started introducing us to people and when you start meeting people, one after the other, you realize that there is a community. It’s just not obvious.”

That was then, though, and this is now. These days, especially in The District, there are events to showcase artists and their art almost every week. Between The Nic, Scarlow’s Gallery, ART 321 and more, the time (and place!) has never been more right to be an artist in Casper.

“I think there are just enough people that are passionate about this community and they’re placing themselves in the right position to open doors, to open galleries and even outdoor spaces where there’s music,” she said. “It’s like a perfect storm. All these people are coming together, each with their own projects, like the Brewery or 321 or Scarlow’s; everybody’s got their thing going but it’s all going on down here. It’s like somebody injected life into downtown.”

It wasn’t just one person that injected life into downtown; it was a lot of people. It was artists and musicians and chefs and bar owners and gallery owners and writers and people who took a chance because they saw what The District was capable of. And they were proven right.

“Artists can be the heart of a community,” Wimmer stated. “There’s sort of a mirror- they reflect what is happening in a community, whether it’s politically or emotionally, or any way that an artist chooses to express, but they can’t really do that without a venue, without an audience. Everything that is happening downtown right now is giving artists opportunities.”

When Maria Rose Wimmer was a high school student, she was given an opportunity. That opportunity changed her world. It decided her course. It introduced her to the love of her life- both of them. That is the power of opportunity. That is the power of art.

“I’m just excited to see where my art goes in general,” Wimmer finished. “We’re looking at expanding but this is always going to be the place that gave us a launching pad.”

The District may have acted as a launching pad to some degree, but this was always going to be her life. She was always going to find art or, rather, be found by it.

And though life will always have its share of difficulties, art will always be there at the end of the day to offer a happily-ever-after because, lest we forget, this is a love story after all.

For more information on Maria Rose Wimmer, or to purchase some of her work, please visit https://www.mariarosewimmer.com/

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

She didn’t know what she was doing. Claire Marlow will be the first person to say that when she purchased Goedickes Custom Framing and Art Supply in 2014, she had no idea what the “plan” was.

“I moved here from Seattle in 2012 and I worked as a project manager at a local company and I just wasn’t super stoked on the work,” Marlow stated. “I couldn’t find a job that fit my skill-set that I moved here with. I was just randomly looking for businesses for sale, not even to buy one, just to kind of see what was going on in the business world and then there was a listing for an art supply store in Wyoming.”

As luck (or God, or the universe, or whomever) would have it, that art supply store was located in Casper, which is where Marlow lived. She met with the owner at the time and he showed her around the shop and its adjoining space that acted more like storage than anything at the time. If this was a movie, the actress who played Marlow (probably a Bryce Dallas Howard or Jessica Chastain-type) would envision almost immediately what this shop-cum-gallery could be. But, life is not a movie and the reality was- this place needed a lot of work and Marlow didn’t even know where to begin.

“I met with the owner and walked in and it was old and dirty and messy and disorganized.” She paused, mid-sentence, to let the memory wash over her. Then, she closed her eyes, smiled, continued: “…and it had so much potential.”

It was that potential that sealed the deal for Marlow. She didn’t have a plan. She didn’t have assurance. She didn’t have any idea about how much work it would take to turn this old, messy building into what it is today. She didn’t have any of that. What she had, was potential.

That was all she needed.

Marlow could have rented out the extra space next to Goedickes, she supposed. She could have just focused on the art supply and framing shop, but she knew that this big, empty, incredible space could be more, could do more, could offer more.

“I didn’t know I was going to do an art gallery when we started the remodel; I just wanted to clean this space out,” Marlow confessed. “I think I just kind of evolved into it. I wanted it to be taken seriously, but I also knew that I didn’t know what I was doing. I just wanted to create a space for art to be shown in Casper.”

She knew that she didn’t know what she was doing. It was that attitude, that layer of humility that kept Marlow grounded. She didn’t make any grandiose pledges about what her space could be. She just wanted to offer what it was, and she hoped the community would be receptive.

Marlow purchased Goedickes in early 2014, and by October of that same year she was ready to open Scarlow’s Gallery.

“My opening night, for sure, was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Marlow said. “We had a huge turnout. It wasn’t the Art Walk. It was just an opening. Everyone came to support me. I had 20+ artists that barely knew me, and they decided to share and put their work up. It just really felt good to have the community come in and I got some thumbs up from some locals that kind of know what’s going on [in the art scene].”

When Marlow opened Scarlow’s Gallery in October of 2014, she wanted it to be a space where artists could show their work. That’s all. She didn’t have a grand vision of transforming the art scene in Casper. She wasn’t planning to turn The District into a destination. She didn’t intend to change this city.

That part came later.

As Marlow and Co. (great band name, ps) were busy with their gallery, Holly Turner was hard at work, too.  She was in the final stages of turning her own vision, ART 321, into a reality. Like Marlow, Turner saw so much potential in Downtown Casper, and if nobody else was going to realize that potential, she would.

Turner heard what Marlow was doing with Goedickes, and approached her one day without a plan, but with a dream.

According to Claire (great book title, ps), as Turner was building what ART 321 would become, she was also eager to start an ‘art walk.’

“We just kept talking about it and talking about it,” Marlow said. “We pulled a few big artists in town and we pulled a designer in. I think there were, like, 5 of us at that initial meeting and none of them believed in it. They said ‘No, it’s never going to work.’ So, we said, ‘Alright, you’re out.’”

Turner and Marlow were only interested in people that believed in them, believed in this town and believed in art. Anything less than that was unacceptable.

Luckily, they found two people who were just as enthusiastic about what dreams may come, regarding Downtown Casper. Those two people were Tony and Amy Elmore, two employees of ART 321 who had the same vision that Turner and Marlow did. The four of them collaborated to create the very first Art Walk in Downtown Casper and it was very much an example of guerilla marketing.

“The first year, it was the four of us,” Marlow stated. “We didn’t know what to expect. I knocked on every door downtown with information about what we were trying to do. Some people didn’t get it, but it turned out great.”

The Art Walk has since turned into a real highlight of the summer in Downtown Casper, and it’s all because one, and then two, and then four people saw the potential for what could be. Marlow has taken on more of an advisory role in recent years, and she said that the Elmores have really taken the proverbial ball and ran with it.

“The second year, people kinda knew about it and it got a little bigger,” Marlow said. “It was a ton of work the first 2 years. The third year, I had a kid and didn’t have as much time to work on it, and Tony and Amy really stepped in and that’s when they made the website and then this last year, they’ve pretty much taken over the management of it.”

The four of them didn’t necessarily have any experience when it came to creating a community-wide event. They just had passion, work ethic and the belief that art is an important aspect to any community.

“I think the art culture for any place is extremely necessary to have a well-balanced city or town or state,” Marlow admitted. “I think it’s what brings community together. You can really, kind of, have a safe place with art that allows any person, whether they know anything about art or not, to just enjoy something about life and then inspire something. It triggers something in your brain. Art is so important just for brain development in general. It’s just a happy space and it’s just creative.”

And really, that’s all that Marlow wanted when she opened Scarlow’s Gallery- a happy space that inspires creativity.

There are events almost every week in The District and beyond, but when Claire Marlow decided to take a chance and buy Goedickes, there was very little activity downtown.

“When I bought Goedickes, it was still quiet down here,” Marlow remembered. “There wasn’t much going on, but I was talking to everybody. I was talking to the artists, I was talking to the people who buy art and have it framed, I was talking to the people who sell art supplies, but none of these people were talking to each other.”

“I kinda thought that I know all these people; what can I do to connect them and so the Art Walk was part of that vision.”

That vision has taken a few years to be realized and it’s still not quite where Marlow, Turner and the Elmore’s want it. But it’s close.

My vision for the gallery is to have phenomenal artists because we’re such a small little blip in the world,” Marlow said. “Nobody thinks Casper can have that.”

If there is one thing that one should never do, it’s tell Claire Marlow “no” or “you can’t” or “this won’t work.” Yes, she can and it will. Scarlow’s Gallery, Goedickes Art Supply and Framing and the Art Walk are all proof of that. Whether it was luck, timing or something even bigger, Downtown Casper was on the verge of something big, and Marlow knew it.

“I think the timing is right,” Marlow agreed. “I think there’s a younger population in Casper, they’re educated, some of them have some money, they want a little more trendy things, they want a little more culture. The older generation is fantastic, and they have allowed us to be here and do this, but I think the younger blood, as with any town, craves a little bit more culture. I think people wanted it. Once the ball started rolling, people could see that we could do that here.”

The Art Walk has given way to a multitude of community-driven events downtown and it has turned The District into something that everybody can be proud of.

But that was never Marlow’s plan. She never had a plan.  She still doesn’t, not really. When asked what drove her to create Scarlow’s Gallery and what is currently driving her to continue it, she just shrugged.

“My focus is to bring something to Casper that isn’t here yet, in the world of culture and art.”

She has done that. More than once. And she will continue to do that, despite not having a plan. She just continues to roll with the metaphorical punches.

“I’m constantly trying to figure out what I can add, what can I take away to keep these doors open,” Marlow said. “They’ve been open for 65 years- I don’t want the doors to close on my watch.”

If the future is the result of the present and the past, then Marlow shouldn’t have to worry about keeping the doors open. Scarlow’s has continued to provide artists with a canvas in which to paint their story. The Art Walk has continued to be the premier event every week in Casper. Marlow, herself, will continue to innovate, inspire and dare to dream.

And, even if it wasn’t hers, maybe that was the plan all along.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

First, there was the Nic Fest. Then, there was Rock the Block. The Art Walk followed shortly thereafter. All of these events were designed to bring the community together and to offer them something ‘outside of the norm.’ They were created to show that there was more to Downtown Casper than just a couple of movie theaters. These events have succeeded, and The District has never been so thriving. Still, though, there will always be room for more, for different. That is the beauty of The District- there is always an opportunity to help it grow.

The creators of the Third Thursday Downtown Crawl recognized this. Then, they got to work.

Jim McBride has been in the food service industry for decades. Whether it was in restaurants or via distribution, McBride is no stranger to the hard work it requires to maintain something that is successful. This is why he was approached by Frontier Brewing Company owner, Shawn Houck, about creating something to drive even more traffic to Downtown Casper.

“Shawn Houck called me one day and said, ‘Can we just sit down, I want to kick something about,’” McBride remembered.

He continued, saying that Shawn asked, ‘What can we do to drive more traffic to this area, both the Yellowstone District and the Downtown community?’

Taking cues from the enormously successful events that had already taken place downtown, Houck and McBride conceived an idea that would involve not just art galleries, or bars, or restaurants, but literally almost every single business that makes up The District and beyond!

From bars and restaurants like the Gaslight Social and The Office Bar & Grill, to retailers like Coopers Makeup & Clothing and the Crazy Pedaler, everybody, it seems, was willing to contribute time, effort and, in some-but-not-all-cases, money.

“This is an idea that we came up with and it didn’t cost a ton of money,” McBride stated. “It’s mostly the effort thing that we have to put forward, more than anything. It’s been very successful.”

Success doesn’t come without a name, however, and McBride and Houck knew they needed something catchy. Some people like to think outside of the box when crafting a name. McBride and Houck knew they didn’t have to. This event would take place on the third Thursday of every month, so that’s what they decided to call it- ‘Third Thursday.’ They would call it the ‘Third Thursday Downtown Crawl,’ and they would be very deliberate in maintaining that this was not just a “pub crawl,” but something that involves all of the downtown businesses.

Jim Kanelos, owner of The Office Bar and Grill, believes that Third Thursday is just the latest attempt to keep community members from having to drive to another state for ‘culture.’

“You get so many people that go to Boulder, Denver’s 16th Street- you go to all these other cities that are a little bit bigger than us and they get to experience this restaurant, this bar, etc.,” Kanelos stated. “Now, they get to finally do that here. Somebody has live music, somebody has games, somebody has a pool table, somebody has something for everyone to do. I think that’s what people are wanting down here. Besides the bars and restaurants, there are a lot of independent retailers that are down here doing some neat stuff and that’s another neat thing about Third Thursday.”

“We didn’t make it a pub crawl for a reason,” McBride interjected.

In addition to the entertainment, food, drinks, sales and culture that Third Thursday offers every month, McBride and Houck knew they needed something a little more, to differentiate themselves from events such at the Art Walk or Rock the Block. This is why they decided to involve prize baskets.

Yes, community members get prizes simply for having fun!

The Third Thursday Downtown Crawl offers 3 prize baskets every month- Gold, Silver and Bronze. Winners of said baskets are chosen at the “host venue” of the month, towards the end of the evening. Certain stops along the way are required to have been visited and stamped, which then makes the individual eligible to be entered into the drawing. The drawing takes place towards the end of the night, around 7:30pm and the more destinations one has stamped, the more of a chance they have to win.

While this may seem like just a way to differentiate itself from other downtown events, Third Thursday developed this idea as a way to include businesses who may not be open during the “crawling” portion of the evening.

“We’ve got people that aren’t even part of the walk that are participating with the baskets,” McBride stated.

“Everybody kind of contributes what they want into each of the baskets,” he continued. “Last month, the gold basket had $680 worth of gift cards, the silver was over $500 and the bronze basket was about $375. You just go around and you get a stamp and the more stamps you get, the more you’re going to qualify. If you have enough stamps to get into the gold basket, you’re gonna have 3 chances to win. We draw the gold winner first, and then the gold basket gets dumped into the silver, which then gets dumped into the bronze basket.”

As if the community needed any more of a reason to hang out downtown, almost $1500 worth of prizes/gift cards should erase any future trepidation.

Kanelos is perhaps the business owner who has embraced this concept the most. From online advertising, to in-house marketing, The Office has to be the frontrunner for “most active participant,” if such awards were given out. The reason Kanelos and his team are so active is because they are so excited about the prospect!

“What we’re seeing now is new for everybody downtown,” Kanelos said. “Summer, you would expect, would be a little slower but we’re going to be busier because you can bar hop. Because of that availability, ‘hey, I can park here and visit here for a snack, listen to some music here, eat dinner there;’ it really helps out all of us. We’re in an area where we’re all so close to each other, people can walk and enjoy themselves. It just benefits all of us.”

And that seems to be the key theme with every event that takes place in The District and beyond- “it just benefits all of us.”

Perhaps the coolest thing about the recent renaissance of Downtown Casper, besides the fact that the community has a plethora of activities each week, is the fact that most of the businesses downtown are working together to give this town something special. Everybody is working together. Matt Galloway from The Gaslight Social is promoting Urban Bottle. 1890 Screen and Stich is directing people towards the Yellowstone Garage. Everybody is working together, hand-in-hand, to see The District, as a whole, succeed.

“It benefits everybody,” McBride reinforced. “It’s a wonderful way to promote your menu, you advertise within. It just benefits all of us. By sticking together and helping each other out with this- it’s a no-fail system.”

That no-fail system has proven to be a success, thus far. Some months are better than others, McBride admitted, and there is a learning curve to find out what works and what doesn’t. He challenged participating businesses to “up their game” in terms of promoting the event each month.

“If everybody that is a participating member could get 5 people to do the crawl, it’d be twice as busy as it is right now,” McBride lamented.

Unlike the Art Walk, the Third Thursday Downtown Crawl takes places all year, so there are many opportunities to experience everything that The District and beyond has to offer. The event lasts from 4pm-8:30 pm and the community is encouraged to “start where you want; end up where you’re having the most fun!”

The next Third Thursday Downtown Crawl takes place on June 21. For a full list of participating businesses, visit https://www.facebook.com/thirdthursdaycasper/

  

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

The District is home to many incredible restaurants, shops and venues. But, as with most towns of our size, it’s the bars that bring in the most people and we are lucky to have a handful of the best ones in Casper, all within walking distance of each other. The Gaslight Social, C85 Wonder Bar, The Office and Frosty’s Bar & Grill are all unique and they all offer something special to anyone who steps foot inside their respective establishments. From the staff, to the entertainment, to the beers and cocktails, each of these four bars present something different and represent something different to the community.

Perhaps the best thing about each of these bars is the fact that they all have an equally unique and diverse food menu for when patrons need to sop up the alcohol with some carbs. Each establishment boasts a full menu of burgers, steaks, tacos, chicken wings and more. The chefs and cooks at these bars are truly Jacks of All Trades and masters of many. So, being the curious and hangry website that we are, and because food is bae, we decided to ask each bar what their signature dish was. They all had one. They were all consumed. They were all delicious.

The Gaslight Social

Subscribing to their name, the signature dish of The Gaslight Social is something that is encouraged to be shared with friends. According to Head Cook, Chance Yingling, nachos are the signature dish of The Gaslight Social.

“Nothing about these nachos is average,” Yingling boasted. “Everything is made in house; fresh corn tortillas, house made queso, all of our meats are seasoned with their own special seasonings, fresh hand-cut vegetables- everything about them is delicious.”

Plating and presentation are important to any dish, even one served within the confines of a bar/arcade. Luckily, Yingling makes sure that each dish coming out of his kitchen is Instagram worthy. But looks mean nothing if it doesn’t taste good. These nachos do. One bite will make you forget all about your beer, your date, your problems because, for that one moment, all that matters is nachos.

“I don’t think anyone does them quite like us in town,” Yingling continued. “The house made says it all, really. Everything is special. You’re not going to find queso like this anywhere in town. I don’t think anyone hand fries their tortilla chips like we do. We sell more nachos than probably anything else. It’s a great social food.”

It makes sense, really, that the signature dish of a place called The Gaslight Social would be the most social food on the planet. But, if you order an entire plate for yourself, we will not judge you. Still, it’s encouraging that everything about The Gaslight Social is designed for people to engage with each other. Whether it’s a game of Mario Kart in the arcade, beer pong or even the food- The Gaslight Social wants you to be, well, social.

C85 Wonder Bar

Steak. It is the foundation of any Wyoming diet and if you don’t like it then get the hell out. (Just kidding, all are welcome here- even our annoying vegan friends). There are few places in town that prepare a really good, Wyoming-worthy steak. There are even fewer places in The District. The good news is, we don’t need very many places, because we have The Wonder Bar. A place that was formerly known for its hot wings and something called The Tower of Taste (don’t ask…it was a heart attack waiting to happen) can now boast that they quite possibly serve up the best steaks in town and that’s why, according to Kitchen Manager Kayla Page, a steak is the signature dish of The Wonder Bar.

“This is a Wyoming Legacy New York Steak that we get locally here in Casper,” Page stated. “It’s a dry-aged steak that we dry for 28 days. We also put it in a sous-vide machine to tenderize it for 4-6 hours, which makes a tremendous difference. It’s really mouth-watering, whether you get it anywhere from medium to well done; it’s still very tender.”

If that sounds delicious, then just wait until you actually try it. It melts like buttah. Because Mom told us never to skimp on veggies, the steak is served with any number of sides, including mashed potatoes and Brussel sprouts, which you would think, “ew,” but each bite compliments each other perfectly.

There are cooks and then there are artists. A cook will fry some eggs or throw a steak on the grill and send it out. Kayla Page, indeed the whole kitchen crew at The Wonder Bar are artists. They genuinely care about each dish they send out. Page will look out over the patrons as they enjoy their meals, taking note of the facial expressions and body language of each. She cares about doing a good job and when it comes to their signature dish, the Wonder Bar does a very, very good job.

The Office

In a District full of new ventures, it’s nice to have a place like The Office holding down the proverbial fort. The Office has, in some shape or another, been in existence for decades. Jim Kanelos, owner of The Office, said that his dad started a restaurant before Jim was even born and that the restaurant business has been in the family blood for years. Kanelos and his wife, Karen, are proud of that history and Jim is proud of his Greek heritage as well, which is why the gyro is the signature dish of The Office.

“I’d say the gyro sandwich is our signature dish,” Kanelos stated. “It’s got gyro meat of course (chicken or beef). Then it’s got the tzatziki sauce, pita bread, lettuce, tomato, we put a little feta in there, onion and it all makes for a delicious sandwich.”

It does make for a delicious sandwich, but what if The District wants a Greek/Asian infusion? The Office has us covered.

“We’ve also incorporated, since we’ve reopened, a gyro egg roll. It’s our gyro sandwich, wrapped in a wonton and deep fried and, again, the thing that highlights it the most is the tzatziki sauce.”

Melissa Bowlds is the Head Chef at The Office, and she said that the greatest part about working there, besides the occasional free gyro, is the family-like atmosphere.

“It’s refreshing to come to a place that is so generational. I love it. I love learning new things and I hope that I’m doing them proud.”

Judging by the immense flavor that the gyro puts out, we think she is definitely doing them proud. Jim and Karen should be proud of their chef, of their sandwich and of their entire establishment. It is truly a family business and any time somebody enters the bar, they are treated like family. Like any good family, they want to make sure visitors leave well-fed. The gyro sandwich is a guaranteed way to leave well-fed, but you will also feel well-loved.

“We pride ourselves on being hands on owners,” Kanelos said. “One of us is always present. We like to interact with our guests and we strive to give the best service and the best experience we can.”

When one visits The Office, they do indeed get the best service, the best experience and the best gyro in town.

Frosty’s Bar & Grill

Sometimes, one does not want the frills of a steak or sushi or anything that our annoying vegan friends are offering. Sometimes, one just wants a burger and one of the best burgers in town comes from Frosty’s Bar & Grill.

It is called “The Wyoming Burger,” and it encompasses everything that is great about this state. It is simple but effective and it gets the job done. One of the cooks at Frosty’s, Joe Perea, said that this burger is by far their highest seller and it all has to do with their ingredients, their cooking process and their price.

Perea said The Wyoming Burger is “a bacon cheeseburger with an onion ring, along with our Sidewinder Fries- they’re delicious; they’re like really big curly fries. It’s got our signature BBQ Sauce, and it’s probably our biggest seller.”

A good burger is a transcendental experience. It can take you places that you never thought you would go. A good burger for a good price is even better. And, according to Perea, eating that burger inside the walls of Frosty’s is an incredible experience.

“It’s good food, cheap beer and a fun environment,” Perea stated. “This isn’t a super busy bar. It’s not super loud. There are no dance floors or pool tables, so you actually get to connect with people. You don’t see people on their phones; they’re actually talking to each other.”

Chances are, what most people at Frosty’s are talking about between themselves, is how good the burgers are.

There we have it. Four signature dishes from four bars in The District. Just because those are the signature dishes, that does not mean any of these establishments are a one-trick pony. Each bar has an incredible menu with food that will blow your minds and melt your hearts. Be sure to visit any and all of these locations and let us (and them!) know what your favorite food has been.

**Authors Footnote- Whenst coming up with the idea for this article, I did not intend for it to procure me actual examples of said signature dishes. That being said, every restaurant offered their dish to me and I took them up on it, because duh. My Journalism professor would shake his finger at me for taking what could be considered to be “a bribe.” Was it unethical? Possibly. But was it delicious? Absolutely. I regret nothing.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

“Home is where the heart is. But my heart is here. So I must be home.”

  • The Time Traveler’s Wife

Really, did she ever even have a choice?

Sherrie Lopez, owner of Sherrie’s Place Restaurant, was born into this business. Her mother and step-father had opened a slew of restaurants in Casper, back when 2nd Street was the only drag in town and Sherrie was barely tall enough to see over the stove. In fact, from 1976 to 1981, her parents actually owned the very same restaurant that would eventually be Sherrie’s Place. Back then, it was called the Coffee Cup Café and it consisted of one counter top and six booths.

After that, Sherrie’s parents ventured to Kansas for a time, before returning home to Casper and opening another slew of restaurants, including the Paradise Valley Café, an airport eatery and a restaurant whose name should elicit a smile from Casper’s old-timers- the Kopper Kettle. Encouraging patrons to “fill your belly and wet your whistle,” the Kopper Kettle was an institution on the outskirts of Casper and was repeatedly said to have had “the best breakfast in town.” During that time, Sherrie, herself, was managing the airport restaurant and then went on to work for various “corporations” for a time, before she was called back “home.”

After Sherrie’s parents sold the Coffee Cup Café, various owners tried to make it their own, to no avail. Finally, in 1997, Sherrie bought the restaurant and it has been Sherrie’s Place ever since.

“This is what I’ve always wanted to do,” Sherrie confessed. “It’s what I’m good at. It’s in my family, in my blood.”

It has taken a lot of blood, sweat, tears and bacon grease to maintain Sherrie’s Place for the past twenty years. Sherrie said she has replaced everything in the restaurant “at least three times” over the course of the years. This makes sense, as the building itself is 100 years old. But Sherrie has no plans of renovating or relocating.

“I look at this, and I look at what I’ve done, and the building itself- I think part of the business itself is the ambience of the building and I’m not ready to get rid of that,” Sherrie stated. “The ambience of the building, the character of the building- she knows I take care of her. Did you know she’s 100 years old? She was built in 1917.”

Things were vastly different a hundred years ago for the Old Yellowstone District. There were rumors of brothels and bootleg liquor, with more lynching than lunching. But it’s the notorious history of the location that has partially contributed to its renaissance the past few years. The community is embracing the history of Downtown Casper and the stories that it has to tell. The story of Sherrie’s Place is just one of them.

When asked what it takes to open and maintain a restaurant for 20+ years, Sherrie said that it takes “experience and dedication.”

Sherrie continued, stating that “You can’t open a business and have a manager run it; you have to stay with your business. I’ve been offered franchises, but I don’t want to do that, because there’s only one of me.”

Truer words have never been spoken. There is absolutely only one Sherrie, and she has become as much of a fixture of The District as the restaurant itself. Known as much for her sass as her hash (browns), Sherrie is like the doting aunt who will always take you in but will be sure to give you a stiff kick in the rear when needed. It is this recipe of two-part angel, one-part devil that has ingratiated Sherrie to her staff, some of whom have been with her from the very beginning.

“My server has been with me almost 19 years,” Sherrie boasted. “My mom has been here since I opened. My other server has been with me since I opened and most of my other employees have been here at least 6 or 7 years. I’ve been very lucky.”

Yes, one of Sherrie’s employees is her mother. Tasked with rolling silverware, baking specialty pies and preparing the homemade dinner rolls, Sherrie’s mom works for 8 hours or more every day, just like the other employees. She is 85 years old.

It is not just Sherrie’s mother that is loyal to her, though. All of her employees would go into battle for Sherrie, fork and knife in tow. This is because Sherrie is loyal to them.

The key to that loyalty, according to Sherrie, is “about making them feel important and caring about their lives outside of the place.”

“With so many corporations, you’re a number on a paycheck and your productivity is all they care about,” she continued. “I think they would get more productivity if they had a little more compassion and if they cared about their employees and what their lives’ involve.”

Sherrie cares about her employees. She also cares about her customers and her community, noting that it is her customers that keep her coming back, day after day.

I thank [my customers] for supporting me,” Sherrie said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be here. I really feel strongly about that. I love my customers. 9 times out of 10, I can tell you who my customers are and what they’re going to eat. I know if they’re having health problems, or who’s getting married, or who’s grandbaby that is. It’s a community thing in here.”

This is not the same community that existed 20 years ago, when Sherrie took her place. It has grown exponentially, especially in recent years, and she couldn’t be happier about that.

“When I first [opened this restaurant], I never imagined this to happen,” she stated. “I am so glad for the improvements. I have such good neighbors.  I know all the restaurant owners and we all kind of reciprocate. We scratch each other’s back and if I know I’m full, they get [my customers] and if they’re full, I get theirs. It’s helpful to everybody. We have to be a team to keep the area open.  I want to be good neighbors.”

As the veteran of The District, it is the other businesses that should feel obligated to be good neighbors to Sherrie’s Place, because she is unlikely to budge. When asked where she wants to see her place go from here, Sherrie stated that she “wants it to stay the same. I think that’s what makes it, the simplicity of it. It’s home cooking. I don’t put parsley on the plates. I keep everything very simple. You get a lot of food for the money and it’s not a generic thing; it’s something different. It’s real.”

Sherrie cuts all of her potatoes for French fries. She breads each chicken fried steak individually and cooks them to order. Her mother bakes bread and pies every day. It is real home cooking, and anything else is simply unacceptable. She is only open until 2pm, she only serves breakfast and lunch, and she is not, absolutely not, open on weekends, regardless of the potential profits.

“I had somebody call me recently who wanted to do some sort of promotion online, and I didn’t really understand it,” Sherrie stated. “I told him ‘I don’t do any of that,’ and he said ‘Well, Mother’s Day is coming up and you’re going to need the business.’”

“I said ‘I’m not open on Mother’s Day.’”

And that’s just how it is, that’s all. Sherrie does things her way because it works. She relies on word of mouth for her advertising and it hasn’t let her down yet.

“That’s another thing,” Sherrie started. “I don’t do Google. I don’t do Facebook. I don’t do Wi-Fi. I don’t check comments. I don’t look at Yelp. I let people tell me.”

When the people speak, she listens and adjusts accordingly. She may not budge on some things, but she is always willing to compromise on certain aspects.

Compromise, she said, is also the key to her marriage. Coincidentally, or not, if you believe in fate, Sherrie met her husband of 36 years inside the walls of her restaurant.

“When my parents owned this from ’76-’81, I actually met my husband in here,” Sherrie reminisced with a slight smile. “I was living across the street in the apartments, and he got an apartment there too. We were introduced by a mutual friend and it’s just so funny that we met in here and we still have the business.”

Funny, yes. But not unbelievable. Because for Sherrie, this place was always hers. It was her past and her present and it is her future. She has raised children within the walls of this restaurant. It was her children who named the restaurant “Sherrie’s Place,” because they knew that this place was just as much her home as their actual residence. Sherrie knows this, too.

“This is my house,” Sherrie said. “I love this place.  There’s a lot of warmth in here, a lot of years.”

Did Sherrie ever really have a choice about where her life would lead? Yes, she did. Sherrie Lopez is an intelligent, passionate, compassionate woman and she could have done anything she wanted to do. But she chose to open her home and her heart to the community. In exchange for that, she was given a husband, 3 children and 4 grandchildren. She created a family that extends much further than the walls of her restaurant. If home is where the heart is, then this entire community is Sherrie’s Place. So really, the question becomes: did we ever really have a choice?

Sherrie’s Place Restaurant is open Monday-Friday, 6:30 AM- 2:00 PM.

It is located at 314 W. Yellowstone Hwy and their phone number is 307-235-3513.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Picture it- New York City in the sixties. It’s Spring; no, Autumn. The leaves are falling and the temperature is perfect and it looks like a photograph.

The star of this particular photograph is your grandmother. She is, in a word, elegant. Standing next to her best friend (who could have been her sister- they were that inseparable, she told you), she is beaming. She’s dressed from head to toe in an outfit that accentuates her positive features (there are many) and disguises her flaws (there are few). The photograph seems to have been taken while she wa laughing- her smile is that big, that bright, that…enchanting. She is beautiful, that’s all. In her hands, resting at her sides, are bags adorned with an all-too-familiar word: Macy’s.

She loved to shop, your grandmother. And Macy’s was her favorite. For her, indeed for most of her generation, shopping was more of a social activity than merely a means to an end. It was an event- something to look forward to, something to plan, something to be cherished. Every time your grandmother “went shopping,” she returned not just with expensive baubles, but with a memory.

Fast forward 60 years and times have most certainly changed. The invention of the internet has rendered shopping malls almost obsolete and the idea of “spending the day shopping” is no longer met with joy but, rather, with dread. Much like streaming services have eliminated the need to rent a movie from the video store, so too has online shopping hindered physical shops.

Still, though, there is a certain charm in entering a shop and spending an afternoon getting lost in the racks with one’s best friend. Luckily for those of us in The District, there is a myriad of shops and boutiques that still capture the idea and the feel of an age from long ago. One of these shops is Cooper’s Makeup and Clothing. This boutique, located in the historic Tripeny Building on Center Street, offers its own unique history and there is certainly more than meets the eye.

Cooper’s has only been in business for a few months, but it is an idea that has been in the works for a while, and it is the product of a dream of two women. One of those women is Cooper Cercy, who gives the store its namesake and some “street cred.” Cooper is a certified makeup artist who got her license in Las Vegas and, like her brother, she wanted to use her talents and resources to give something back to Downtown Casper. That “something” is Cooper’s Makeup and Clothing and if Cooper is the “face” of the shop, than Cassie Barker is most assuredly its hands, feet, heart and soul.

Barker is the General Manager of Cooper’s and has spent the past year making sure that this store is a worthy addition to The District.

“This is kind of my baby, too,” Barker said. “I was given this role last April and have really been in charge of picking out the lines, placing the orders, handling all of the renovations, getting all the equipment and furniture and really [designing] the whole layout.”

The layout is unlike any other store in Casper. Upon entering through the Center Street door, one is greeted with a slew of photographs taken throughout the years. These photographs show what Downtown Casper looked like in years past and they also show the various ways the Tripeny Building has served Casper. From a pharmacy, to a restaurant to, now, a clothing boutique, the Tripeny Building has housed many businesses throughout the years and Cooper and Cassie could not have picked a better location to make their dream come true.

After purchasing the building from former owner Will Yates, Cooper and Cassie set about turning it into something truly memorable.

“We wanted to provide those fresh, fun styles with those great brands at an affordable price,” Barker stated. “We want it to be a fun event to shop here; a fun experience.”

It is an experience that can be had by both men and women. Despite the name, Cooper’s Makeup and Clothing is not just a shop for women. They sell products for men, too, and they are excited to offer something for men and women of all ages and any means.

“The price ranges from $7 to $250, so it’s a pretty wide spectrum,” Barker confessed. “We have some very great, affordable pieces mixed in with our more high-end things as well. The goal was that everybody, of all ages and of any sex could walk in here and find something that they would like.”

In addition to the mid to high-end clothing options, Cooper’s also offers a variety of makeup services as well, including makeup lessons, group lessons, group events, full face services, eyes, eyebrows, eye lashes and more. Cooper is trained in each of those and she is determined to make individuals look as beautiful as they feel. They only use cruelty-free makeup lines and Cooper always has her finger on the pulse of “what’s hot/what’s not” when it comes to makeup and fashion. Cooper’s Makeup and Clothing offers the hottest labels for prices that are cheaper than what one could find online.

Barker said that Cooper’s is part of the Third Thursday Downtown crawl, which is just the latest example of events running through The District. There is a certain excitement in the air when it comes to Downtown Casper and everybody wants to be a part of it. Bar owners, restaurant owners, shop owners and more are all committed to the idea of making Downtown Casper a destination.

Barker stated that she believes adding another clothing boutique to The District is “a step in the right direction towards making this place feel like a downtown Fort Collins, where you can have a sense of community and have fun things to do.”

As more and more businesses pop up in The District, there will be more and more stories of individuals following their dreams and offering them to the community. Sometimes that vulnerability will be met with scrutiny from that very same community. Cooper’s certainly has been, for reasons completely out of their control. Every individual associated with Cooper’s Makeup and Clothing has put a lot of heart into that shop. They believe in it and they want it to be something the community believes in as well. They want to give The District a place to play, to shop, to create memories in.

Barker, in particular, pours her entire heart and soul into this shop, and she doesn’t regret a single second.

“I have worked very hard on this project,” she stated. “I told Cooper from the beginning ‘I know this is your baby, but I’m going to treat it like my baby because I think that’s what you need in a General Manager for the public to take it seriously.’”

“I have put every ounce of energy I could into this place,” she continued.

Walking into Cooper’s Makeup and Clothing, it is evident how much work, how much detail and how much love has been put into it. It is more than just a makeup store. It’s more than a clothing shop. It is the brainchild, the “baby,” so to speak, of two women who want to give their community special.

Shopping used to be an event. Macy’s was a destination. It was glamorous. It was something to look forward to. Before you could buy your entire wardrobe with the click of a button, you would walk into a store, you would try something on that made you feel beautiful and you would pretend, just for a minute, that you were in New York City, in the sixties.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

The date was May 5, 1862. Mexico and France were in the midst of battle, following the French occupation of Mexico.  The Mexican treasury was nearly bankrupt after two back to back wars- The Mexican-American War of 1846 and The Reform War, which lasted from 1858 to 1861. The Reform War pitted Liberals VS Conservatives (sound familiar?) and it left Mexico’s economy in dire straits. The President of Mexico issued a moratorium, suspending foreign debt for two years while Mexico got its s*** together. Spain, Britain and France did not like this decision. While Mexico was able to negotiate with Spain and Britain, France was having none of it and Napoleon III decided to invade Mexico and reshape it into his view of what it should be (also sound familiar?).

 

In late 1861, a French army of nearly 6,000 men invaded Mexico near Puebla. Mexico was ill-equipped, battling with an army of only 4,000 men but somehow, they overcame the French army. On May 5, 1862, Mexico soundly defeated the French and sent them packing. This became known as The Battle of Puebla, or for our Spanish-speaking readers, El Día de la Batalla de Puebla. It was the Mexican equivalent of “This is Sparta!!!” and it provided a significant morale boost to the people of Mexico.

 

So, they celebrated.

And celebrated.

And then they celebrated some more. May 5th, or Cinco De Mayo has become an officially-recognized holiday here in the United States. It’s less of a big deal there than it is here (because American will look for any excuse to party), but the people of Mexico do remember this day and hold it close to their hearts. It has become a day of celebration, of remembrance and of lots and lots of tequila.

In Mexico, citizens celebrate Cinco De Mayo with food, drink and dancing. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of the best places in The District to do each of those things. We just ask that you do them responsibly and with a little bit of reverence for the meaning of the actual holiday.

Cinco De Mayo in The District: Best Food Option

Sherries Place

If you are looking to start Cinco De Mayo off right, (and by that we mean traditionally and deliciously) there is no better place to go than Sherrie’s Place. Specializing in breakfast and lunch options, Sherrie’s place is a nondescript restaurant right in the heart of The District. It’s a small but packs a punch- just like the Mexican army during The Battle of Puebla. This is especially evident with their Chorizo and Swiss Omelet or their Bacon and Guacamole Omelet. Sherrie also makes a mean red or green chili that will have you begging for mercy just like the French did back in 1862. If you want authenticity when it comes to an awesome Mexican breakfast, then look no further than Sherrie’s Place. They’re only open until 2pm though, so make sure to get there early!

Cinco De Mayo in The District: Best Drink Option

Frosty’s Bar

The Battle of Puebla and the significance of Cinco De Mayo is important because it showed that sometimes, just sometimes, “the little guy” wins. It showed that it’s not how big you are, it’s how much heart you have. When it comes to heart, there is possibly no other bar in The District with as much of it as Frosty’s. While establishments such as The Gaslight Social and The Wonder Bar are great, there is something to be said about the small, intimate atmosphere of a good “dive bar” like Frosty’s. They don’t have a dance floor and the chair arrangement will require you to make friends quickly, but that is part of its charm.  It is a place that bonds people together over shared stories, similar experiences and standing up against adversity. It’s a place that offers diversity, encouragement and lots and lots of Tequila. They are sure to offer various drink specials on May 5th, so make sure that Frosty’s is at the top of your list for Cinco De Mayo Celebrations.

 

Cinco De Mayo in The District: Best Dance Option

In Mexico, celebrations usually consist of an inordinate amount of dancing. This is real dancing, too; none of that bump n’ grind that kids in America are doing these days. Dancing in Mexico is an expression of joy, especially on days like Cinco De Mayo. Luckily for folks in The District, Yellowstone Garage is planning an event that consists of not only dancing, but also food, drinks and poker! Because nothing screams “Mexican Pride” like poker. On May 5, Yellowstone Garage is promoting its “1st Annual Cinco De Mayo Poker Run.” This is an event that runs through The District and beyond. It begins at 9am at Moser Energy, runs through the City Park in Glenrock, the Lazy 8 Bar, the Town Pump and it finally ends in style at Yellowstone Garage. It is $20 for one hand and $30 for two with various prizes and giveaways throughout the entire run. Chicken tacos and chips are included with the run, and when everybody finally gathers at the Yellowstone Garage, it is sure to be a celebration for the ages. With room both inside the venue and outside on the patio to dance, there is no reason not to celebrate like this is Mexico’s Independence Day (which Cinco De Mayo isn’t, by the way…sometimes people confuse the two because we’re stupid Americans who don’t necessarily care about the reasons why we’re celebrating, just as long as we actually are celebrating). If you are looking to spend the entire day with friends, dancing and laughing and eating and drinking, then you should definitely sign up for the Yellowstone Garage 1st Annual Cinco De Mayo Poker Run.

May 5 was an important day for the Mexican people, and for the entire world. It was more than an excuse for future generations to drink Corona and eat tortilla chips until they passed out. It was a statement. It was a proclamation. It was a victory not only for the Mexican people, but for anybody who has ever faced adversity head on. It is a reminder that heart is more important than sheer mass. It is the ultimate example of the underdog and it deserves to be celebrated.

We’ve told you how and where and when to celebrate Cinco De Mayo in The District.

The most important thing to remember, though, when celebrating Cinco De Mayo…is why.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

It started as a dream. Years ago, before the Casper Art Walk, before the Eclipse Festival, before anything even resembling a “downtown district” existed, Garijo Bierley had a dream of seeing a crowd of people gathering together, eating, drinking and enjoying the presence of one another’s company. In her dream, she saw a family sitting together; the sunlight bathing them as they shared a picnic. She saw a boy sitting next to a girl, contemplating taking her hand in his. She saw an old woman dancing. She saw an old man smiling. She saw her community acting like a community. More than anything, she saw potential.

So, she got to work.

The Yellowstone Garage has been a Casper staple since the 1920’s. It was originally a gas station, then an auto dealership, then a motorcycle dealership and then a machine shop. The Garage went through many transformations before current owner John Huff purchased and restored it. Originally, Huff wanted to use it to showcase his vintage muscle cars. Huff would occasionally use The Yellowstone Garage for various events- wedding receptions, car shows, etc. Bierley was hired to manage those events, and it was during this time that she realized the potential for not only The Yellowstone Garage, but for The Old Yellowstone District as a whole.

“About six years ago, I started taking over the events for John and it’s just kind of transformed into something that’s here all the time now,” Bierley stated. “We had a lot of people telling us that they wished they could do more down here; not just if they were invited to a private event. So, we kind of started brainstorming for a while and then the contest for that liquor license came up and we had a plan almost finished by then anyway, so it was almost perfect timing.”

The liquor license was highly sought after. It was something of a golden ticket to business owners in Casper and when The Yellowstone Garage acquired it, not even Willy Wonka himself could have predicted just how much pure imagination would go into the development.

That imagination started with an event called “Rock the Block.” It was something of a precursor to the Casper Art Walk and it was Bierley’s first foray into bringing the community together.

We started Rock the Block 5 years ago and that’s probably the biggest thing that has drawn everybody down here,” Bierley professed. “It’s been amazing to see the evolution of that. Starting the first year, we had maybe 200-300 people show up on Thursday night, to last year we had 2,000-3,000.”

Bierley continued, stating that “It’s just been absolutely wonderful to get the community involved and get them down in this area to see everything that’s going on down here and all the redevelopment and everything that this Old Yellowstone District has to offer.”

Rock the Block was one of the first events to really offer the community a chance to come together and play. Taking cues from its predecessor, The Nic Fest, Rock the Block featured local musicians, artists, food vendors, performance artists and more- all in an effort to promote community involvement.

“Everything that we built Rock the Block on is helping local people grow their businesses and show off their talents,” Bierley said. “It’s a really big deal to us to keep things as local as possible. If everybody is successful, it makes us more successful and that’s why we create that whole vibe down here. We want to help everybody, we want to work together, and the more successful business are down here, the more traffic we’re going to have and the better everybody is going to be.”

This is a vision, a dream, that is shared by numerous business owners in the downtown area. In addition to The Yellowstone Garage, The District has seen the creation of businesses such as Urban Bottle, Racca’s Pizzeria, The Gaslight Social, David Street Station and more. All of these shops and bars and restaurants share a common dream of seeing Downtown Casper flourish. And that is exactly what it’s doing.

Thanks in large part to The Yellowstone Garage, as well as David Street Station and ART 321, Downtown Casper has seen a huge influx of activity in recent years. The Casper Art Walk, The Nic Fest, Rock the Block, and various events produced by David Street Station have all given the community reasons to visit downtown. Suddenly, downtown has become a destination. For business owners, this isn’t just how downtown should be; it’s how it always should have been.

Bierley saw the potential in The Yellowstone Garage. She saw the potential in Downtown Casper. She thought about what The District could be, and it was a version of the same dream that so many others had. When asked what drives a person to take on all of the work that it takes to make The Yellowstone Garage what it is, Bierley simply replied “craziness. Insanity.”

Some thought that Bierley was crazy, that she had lost her mind when she spoke of her vision of what The District could be. But that vision has come to fruition and it is one that is shared by business owners, city council members and the community as a whole.

So now what?

“I think it would be really amazing to have a feel similar to Ft. Collins, where people would park and just walk around and wander in all the shops and support the local businesses and actually shop local,” Bierley admitted.

This is undoubtedly where The District is headed. The number of bars, restaurants, shops and art galleries in Downtown Casper is astounding. It seems as though every week produces different events. Whether it’s The Art Walk, the 3rd Thursday Bar Crawl, or any number of events and concerts that David Street Station produces, there is always something to do in Downtown Casper.

It all started, seemingly, with The Yellowstone Garage. What was once just a display for classic cars has turned into a bar and restaurant that hosts of variety of events all year long. It offers good, homestyle food and delicious cocktails. It gives artists and musicians a stage in which to showcase their talents. It gives the community a place to gather, to dance, to laugh. It is the culmination of years of hard work, determination, imagination and the dreams of many people. For Garijo Bierley, it is the opportunity to give back to the community that she calls home.

“I’ve always really liked to create memories for people,” she stated. “It’s just really neat to see families come together and make memories and enjoy each other. Everybody’s just usually happy. There are so many struggles in life; when you can see people come together and enjoy all of your hard work, it’s just very rewarding at the end of the day.”

When Garijo Bierley decided she wanted to help turn Downtown Casper into a destination, she didn’t know what exactly that would entail. She didn’t know that new businesses would follow suit. She didn’t think that an entire plaza would be built. She didn’t foresee just how big this entire idea would get. She was just a woman with a dream and the desire to make people happy. That’s exactly what she’s doing. She has ideas for the future, as well. She can see even more potential for The District and its surrounding areas. She believes that Downtown Casper can be even bigger, even brighter, even better and she believes that the community can build something, really build something that other communities can take inspiration from.

A million dream’s is all it’s gonna take.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

It’s been said that in life, two things are certain- death and taxes. While death is inevitable for all of us, taxes are a bit trickier. For some, April 15th is the worst day of the year and death would be a welcome relief from the debt that is owed to that son of a b****, Uncle Sam. For others, however Tax Day is a wonderful day. It is a day to rejoice. It is the dream of a new car or a family vacation. Perhaps it is the start of a college fund for your unborn child, Maxwell. Or, if you’re like us, as soon as you get your tax return back, you want to spend every dollar as quickly as possible before they change their minds and try to take it back.

There are two types of people when it comes to tax season- the have’s and the have not’s; the payers and the paid. If you are one of the have not’s, the best we can offer you is a list of drinking establishments in The District for you to spend what few precious coins you have left, drinking your sorrows away. Places like Frosty’s Bar & Grill and The Office are perfect places to mutter “thanks, Obama” in between sips of your tonic ‘n gin. For the have’s who, like us, don’t give a s*** about Maxwell’s future we have compiled a list of the best places in The District to spend that sweet sweet tax money.


Fiscally Irresponsible Stop #1- Wyoming Camera Outfitters

These days, anybody with a camera phone and a sepia-tone filter considers themselves a photographer. They aren’t. Photography is a real skill, a real talent and it require real practice with real equipment. For our money or, we guess, yours, the best place to acquire this skill, as well as the necessary equipment to display said skill is Wyoming Camera Outfitters. WCO is a truly unique store. Specializing in equipment from Canon, Tamron, Sony and more, Wyoming Camera Outfitters has anything and everything a burgeoning photographer could need. They also offer a complete line of rental cameras and equipment and offer a variety of courses and workshops that focus on camera training, lighting, editing software and more. WCO doesn’t want to just sell you expensive equipment and throw you to the wolves (the wolves, in this case, are probably mean comments you would read on the internet). They want to give you the tools and the skills to develop a past time that, for your money, is one of the greatest hobbies in the world. That is the great thing about Wyoming Camera Outfitters- they have everything for those who strictly want to stick to photography as a hobby, or for professionals looking to hone their craft and utilize the newest, most innovative equipment from the industry’s leading providers. If you are looking for something to invest your time and many of your tax dollars in, then Wyoming Camera Outfitters is the perfect place to do it.

Fiscally Irresponsible Stop #2- Spruce Nail Bar

Of course, some people don’t want to take the picture; some people want to be the picture. And nobody prepares people for pictures better than Spruce Nail Bar. Spruce2 is two-fold. They can make you beautiful while simultaneously getting you buzzed. Spruce Nail Bar is the only nail salon in Casper that also offers cocktails. Their services are vast and varied, and include: manicures, pedicures, lash extensions, waxing, facials, Botox, dermal fillers, permanent makeup and more. The goal of Spruce is to make you not only look beautiful but feel beautiful. All of the girls that work there are like the really nice girls whom you meet in the bathroom of a bar at midnight after you’ve been crying because that douche Austin cheated on you, but they remind you of how pretty you are and that you’re better off without him. We all know those girls. We all love those girls. All of those girls work at Spruce. Their job is to remind you that beauty comes from within, but that extra long eyelashes certainly don’t hurt your overall aesthetic appeal. They don’t use chemically-enhanced products, so every nail they paint is healthy, natural and, like, totally gorge. As if that wasn’t enough, they also serve signature cocktails, as well as various types of wines because nothing goes better with beautification than libations, IOHO. Their rates are great, so you won’t even have to spend all of your hard-earned tax money in one place. You can walk next door and buy another bottle of wine from Urban Bottle! This is the perfect place to spend some money and to “enjoy a signature cocktail or a glass of wine with your friends while enjoying beauty without chemicals, the natural way.” So, go on, beautiful. Take your tax money and go get #allsprucedup.


Fiscally Irresponsible Stop #3- The Sand Trap Indoor Golf Center

All work and no play would make any of us dull, especially if there are precious tax dollars to be spent! Luckily for those of us in The District, there is The Sand Trap Indoor Golf Center. The Sand Trap is a unique golfing experience unlike any other. It offers a variety of virtual course simulations, which means, in laymen’s terms, that you get all of the fun of a golf course and none of the wind that inevitably takes your ball on the most important hole of your life and brings your overall score up which wouldn’t be that big of a deal except you bet your boss that the loser would have to buy lunch and now you have to buy lunch and your boss is a big man and always orders the most expensive thing on the menu…anyway. Where were we? Yes, The Sand Trap features 6 golfing suites with 34 different courses. They also have a pro shop to buy sweet merch (because we’re spending like there’s no tomorrow…because in this day and age, there actually might not be) and to get your clubs gripped. They have a full-service bar because golf isn’t golf without a stiff drink to take your mind off of how bad you are at golf. They also offer various league memberships and corporate events so this is definitely a place that your tax money would be well spent. We all deserve a little fun in life, and there is nothing more fun, more satisfying, than hitting a ball into a screen that tells you it actually went 500 feet.

So then. We have given you three exceptional places in The District to spend all of your moneys. The best part about each of these three is that they are made up of individuals who genuinely want to make people happy. You’re not giving your money to huge corporations that would barely bat an eye at it. You’re not investing it in a future that may not exist. You’re sure as hell not giving it to fricken Maxwell. You’re giving your money to local businesses, made up of local people and you’re getting hours of entertainment, talent and beauty. It’s been a hard year. You deserve to spend a little time and money on yourself. Just make sure that when you do, you’re spending it in The District.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

It was overcast and chilly when ART 321 and the Casper Artist’s Guild presented the first Casper Art Walk of the 2018 season, but Mother Nature could not stop the community from coming downtown to see all the incredible sights and sounds that the Art Walk had to offer. The Art Walk enveloped much of the downtown area, but it seemed like it was within The District that the perfect combination of art, music, food and drink came together.

Crescent Moon Coffee Shop, one of Casper’s newest ground houses, featured Kirstin Bott, owner and operator of Frosted Tops, LLC during the Art Walk. Nothing goes better with coffee than cake, it can be argued, and Crescent Moon had both aplenty on this night.

“We’ve been in business about four years and we’ve been participating in the Art Walk for the last few,” said Bott, in between servicing the ever-growing line of hungry customers at her table. “I think the Art Walk is awesome. It’s an opportunity for the community to gather together and really rally around small businesses and support each other.”

That is one of the major things the Casper Art Walk is trying to accomplish- bringing businesses and the community together. The Art Walk also provides an opportunity for artists to display their work to an even wider audience, through different gallery shows, meet and greets, artist dinners and more. Scarlow’s Gallery is just one of the many art galleries featured in the Art Walk. It also happens to be one of the coolest.

Featuring artists such as Jim Kopp, E.K. Wimmer, Barbara Kuxhausen and more, Scarlow’s Gallery exists to display the work of artists who have a story to tell. Claire Marlow, owner and curator of Scarlow’s Gallery said it has been open for nearly four years, and in that time, they have featured artists from all over the spectrum- painters, sculptors, photographers and more.    

“My main goal is to just bring in culture that people haven’t seen,” Marlow said. “We’ve featured a lot of local artists, which is fabulous. Casper doesn’t get a lot of fresh stuff, so we just try to bring in stuff they’ve never seen.”

 

An artist that Casper has definitely never seen before, but will undoubtedly see more of in the future, is Neal Breton.

Breton is a pop art-inspired artist who focuses on colors that really speak to the viewer. He is one of the featured artists this month at Scarlow’s Gallery, and his work needs to be seen to be believed. When Breton speaks of his art, he does so with the enthusiasm of a child who is presenting the coolest thing he has ever seen at Show and Tell. His enthusiasm is contagious, and his art takes one back to a happier, simpler time when all it took to make you smile was a picture of a little girl holding a flower.

These are sort of half a love letter to California and half a love letter to color,” Breton said of his work. “What I’m trying to accomplish here is having little moments trapped. And those little trapped moments are for you to enjoy. I want to make things that make people happy and make people at peace.”

Making people happy is exactly what Breton does, and he really exemplifies just what it is that the Art Walk is trying to do. It’s trying to make people happy. It’s showcasing artists and musicians and chefs and sommeliers, all of whom have a story to tell and a canvas to work on. The Art Walk is that canvas.

Betsy Bower, a local artist who has had her work featured all across Downtown Casper, believes that the Art Walk is incredibly important to artists and galleries alike.

“The Art Walk is something that really brought culture into downtown and I think that’s one of the biggest things that has helped [artists], because there are galleries that you can walk to,” Bower said. “It’s like everybody is coming out of the woodwork to show their art. It’s like everybody had a secret hobby that I didn’t know about and now they have a place to display it, so I think it just keeps getting better.”

“It’s encouraging,” Bower continued. “I think there are a lot of artists that are growing and being nurtured by [the Art Walk].”

It’s not just painters and sculptors that are being featured in the Art Walk, however. Musicians, as well, are given the opportunity to perform and tell their stories. Bands such as Mastermind of Monkey, Jeff Stanley and The Gang, Jason Ford and more all had the opportunity to play various venues throughout The District. Places like The Gaslight Social, Racca’s Pizzeria, Yellowstone Garage and Urban Bottle are not usually what one thinks of when picturing venues for musicians to play at. But that’s the great thing about the Art Walk- everybody wants to display artists!

 

Lauren Griffith is one of the owners of Urban Bottle, and she said the stage that the Art Walk presents, for both artists and businesses alike, cannot be overstated.

“It’s amazing,” she said of the community coming together during the Art Walk. “It drums up so much business and we get so many more people that haven’t been in here before. We love to promote local musicians. It’s just been so much fun to see all these people that wouldn’t normally go downtown to just come and frequent all of these spots all over downtown.”

The list of participating businesses and artists for the Art Walk extends far beyond The District and truly encompasses almost every business in Downtown Casper. This is incredible. It means that all of us, from writers to artists to musicians to restaurant owners to business owners to art gallery managers and more all have a single vision of what Downtown Casper be.

That vision might look a little bit different, depending on who you ask, but one idea, one hope, one dream remains the same- that Downtown Casper will continue to flourish.

James Andrews, owner the Smoked ‘N Tender food truck said that his wish is “to see droves of people walking through these streets, hitting food trucks, restaurants, all the shops and having it be a place where people come from different towns to come see Downtown Casper.”

His wish is shared by almost everybody in the Downtown District and it is one that all of us can make come true. The best part is that we, the public, have the easiest job of all.

All we have to do is show up.

Featured Scarlow’s artist Neal Breton said that Casper “is lot like the town that I’m living in right now, which is kind of a burgeoning town; it’s learning about culture and it’s learning about art and what better way to do that than by bringing everyone together and to identify a community? What I think [Casper is] doing is great. It will always take a lot of work and it will never be fully realized, but as long as people start to participate, and they’re turned on and they’re interested about art, and they’re interested in participating in that, then it will be huge!”

“Art is a universal thing; it’s a universal language,” Breton stated.

Art is a universal language, and because of The Casper Art Walk, it is a language that all of Downtown Casper is starting to speak.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

It wasn’t always like this. Used to be, art was looked at as being “boring.” Used to be, art galleries were believed to be owned by old ladies or single men who lived with a cat. Used to be, you’d have to travel to one of the “bigger” cities that actually had “culture” if you wanted to see art and the artists who created it.

Used to be, art didn’t exist in The District.

But then, something happened. Somebody had an idea. Then somebody else had an idea. Then, somebody else. And more. And more. Suddenly, there was not only a surplus of artists; there was also a HUGE surplus of art. Better still, there were galleries where that art could be displayed. There was ART 321. There was Shawn Rivett Designs (formerly Haven). There was Scarlow’s Gallery. Suddenly, there are entire walks dedicated to art! Art, it seems, has taken over The District.

But it wasn’t always like this.

“The Casper Artist’s Guild has been in Casper since 1924,” stated Diane Harrop, Executive Director of ART 321. “The women that were involved would tell you that it was like an old woman painting club. They realized they were either going to go away entirely or they needed to up their game.”

That’s exactly what that so-called “old woman painting club did.” The Casper Artist’s Guild was originally stationed in an old firehouse behind the CY Albertsons, and it served many of the same functions that it does now. But ever since moving into the building at 321 West Midwest Avenue (hence their name), ART 321 has been doing everything a little bit bigger, better and brighter. More than anything, though, they have become a beacon for artists who want to ply, and sell, their craft.

“We do basically the same kinds of things that they did in the old location- it’s just that we do a whole lot more of it,” remarked Harrop.

 

ART 321 offers workshops and weekly groups for different art mediums. Classes on pastels, watercolors, ceramics and portraits are offered, as well as classes for fibers and pencils.

Harrop stated that they have “eleven different workshops scheduled, ranging in price and ranging in focus- from the very serious oil and acrylic paintings and watercolor paintings, pastels and drawings to fun things like Betsy Bower’s Metal Flowers.”

Bower, a Casper native, is not your typical artist and her “metal flowers” are proof of that.

“I grew up in my dad’s welding shop, just kind of working with him in his shop, welding metal,” stated Bower. “Then I just went from cleaning metal and sweeping floors to welding. And through my teens I said, ‘I really don’t want to work for my family, but it’s better pay than the movie theater.’”

No doubt, it was more creatively fulfilling as well. It fueled a passion in Bower that inspired her to use her skills as a welder to create a new and different kind of art.

“I just liked it,” Bower said. “From a young age, I knew I just wanted to do something either musically or something artistic. And I felt like…’it is possible to do these things. Someone else is doing it, so why can’t I?’”

She could. And she did. And shortly thereafter, she was “discovered” by another local who wanted to feature her in his gallery.

“Shawn Rivett was probably one of the first people who commissioned me to do something that was more public,” Bower stated. “That started to get my name known around town and then I got more jobs that were more public and it just kept growing.”

Bower continues to produce art in a variety of different mediums, but she said none of that would have happened, or at least not as quickly, without Shawn Rivett and his gallery.

 

Shawn Rivett Designs, originally known as HAVEN, was one of the first galleries in The District that actually made “viewing art” an activity. The work that Rivett displayed, much of it art that he created himself, was so interesting and varied that people began to show up in droves. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the gallery itself was so unique and cool and, dare we say, different that people couldn’t help but be drawn to it. The former HAVEN hosted parties, weddings, wine tastings on the roof and more. It showed that there was so much more to “art” than just looking at paintings. Now, the majority of art that Rivett produces are antler sculptures. Rivett appreciates where he comes from and he knows the kind of natural beauty that comes from the variety of antlers that he sculpts. That is how the elusive Shawn Rivett spends the majority of his days, but he is always on the lookout for up-and-coming talent, just as he was when he and Bower collaborated on various projects.

“[He] came in one day and would observe my work and be like ‘I want this but I want it to look like that,’ and then he’d come up with designs and I’d help him bring it to life.”

They would bring art to life and then Rivett would display that art in his gallery, for all comers to see.

Another gallery in The District that loves to display the work of local artists is Scarlow’s Gallery. Opened in 2014, Scarlow’s “was created with the intentions to provide artists of all kinds, a place to show their talents, speak their creative minds and show the community that the arts in Casper and Wyoming, are an influential aspect of the growth and success of our city and state.”

Scarlow’s Gallery displays the work of local artists, such as Jim Kopp, E.K. Wimmer, Barbara Kuxhausen and more. They produce various events and shows throughout the year and even rent their space to those who want to use it for fundraisers, weddings and more. Scarlow’s is a place that cultivates artists, but it also acts as a resource for the community.

“Scarlow’s Gallery will always support local artists throughout Wyoming, being a space for close communities to collaborate and share,” their website stated. “Variety and fresh perspectives are a beneficial aspect to the progression of Casper and that is why Scarlow’s will work hard to showcase artists from varying states and countries.”

 

Scarlow’s Gallery is not the only gallery that works hard to showcase artists. Scarlow’s, Shawn Rivett Designs, ART 321, Cactus Arts- even coffee shops like Metro Coffee Co. and Crescent Moon Coffee Shop; they all give artists a platform to display their art.

The Casper Art Walk was also a turning point for artists and local businesses alike. Taking place during the Spring and Summer months in Downtown Casper, the Art Walk combines food, music, merchandise and, yes, art to create an experience for residents. And ART 321 is at the center of it. Literally.

“When the city was really starting to focus on the Old Yellowstone District, this [building] was one of the things that came in and really improved a significant building,” stated Harrop. “Other things followed, like Racca’s, Urban Bottle, Gaslight, The Office…but we’re the heart!”

Harrop smiled and made a statement that all of the galleries in The District can subscribe to:

“We want to be in a position to remind artists how important it is to be connected to the community and we want to remind the community how important it is to be connected to their artists.”

There didn’t used to be art galleries in the Old Yellowstone District. Now, there are 4 or 5 galleries within a two-mile radius.

It hasn’t always been, but one hopes that from this moment on, it will always be like this.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Let’s get this out of the way first, shall we? This is not a typical VS article. We’re not pitting the two coffee shops against each other. We don’t want to start a war. Think less Freddy VS Jason, more Batman V Superman…except we’re pretty sure neither owner has a mother named Martha.

What both Crescent Moon Coffee Shop and Metro Coffee Company do have, however, is a claim to being the best coffee shop in The District. So which one is the best? Who is the real winner? Let’s find out.

It’s Crescent VS Metro…Place your bets.

When Metro Coffee Co. first opened, they strived to be different than a certain Seattle-based coffee shop. They didn’t want to follow rules dictated by a man in a suit that knew nothing about coffee. They wanted to bring something to Downtown Casper that it previously lacked- a place where people of all ages could sit together, drink coffee together and just be together.

Since taking ownership of Metro in September of 2017, Lexie Anderson and her three partners wanted to preserve that same sense of belonging that was first created within the brick confines of that illustrious coffee shop.

When first walking into Metro, one is immediately greeted with a slew of “Hellos” and “How are you’s” from the ever-affable staff. After pleasantries were exchanged, my order was taken post-haste. I was standing there for only a few moments before my drink was up. I’m boring, and need all the caffeine, so I ordered a Boiler Maker with 4 shots of espresso. After the espresso was made, the kindly barista offered me my choice of brewed coffee to pour myself. She told me which pot was the freshest, which I appreciated. I grabbed my coffee and scanned the room and, to my surprise, there was barely a place to sit! It was a Monday afternoon but the place was packed. There were teenagers, college students, adults and more, which was exactly what Anderson and her partners envisioned when they purchased Metro last September.

“There’s nothing that I love more than coming through that front door and walking back to the office every day,” Anderson said. “I love walking to the back and seeing everyone in here working on their computers; I like that we have kids here and that we’re able to offer them a place that is fun and safe.”

Metro is most assuredly a fun, safe space for kids and for older patrons. More often than not, Metro has a slew of events going on. It hosts art displays, concerts, open mic nights and more. Rarely is there a Friday night that doesn’t have some sort of event going on.

But Metro is not just about being a cool venue. It wouldn’t be the success that it is today if the coffee wasn’t top-notch. Luckily, as I took the first sip of my Boiler Maker, my mind (and taste buds) were put at ease. As somebody who scoffs at the idea of adding cream and sugar to my liquid energy booster, my mouth was inundated with nothing but pure coffee. The espresso was rich and creamy, and the actual coffee was so good, it actually took my mind off the fact that I was drinking what amounted to hot bean water. I didn’t order any food, but Metro does offer bagels, pastries, breakfast sandwiches and regular sandwiches that are absolutely delicious as well. Metro offers coffee, tea, hot drinks, cold drinks, food and more which definitely puts this coffee shop a notch above the others.

The thing that should really put Metro at the top of anyone’s list, however, is the fact that its owners really care about being a place that brings people of all ages together.

Anderson stated that they “love all the different people that come in here. We really enjoy serving people and supporting the community.”

That is exactly what Metro does, which is why it wasn’t surprising that the only thing Anderson had to say about Metro’s, ahem, “rival” owner was a compliment.

“As a woman, as a person that has children, it’s so impressive to me that a young lady like that has such drive, it really is,” Anderson said. “I know how much [work] it is taking on a coffee shop, and I commend her for what she’s doing.”

The young lady in question is Makenzie Rothfuss and she is the owner and manager of Crescent Moon Coffee Shop. She is also twenty. As in, years old. 

“I’ve always wanted to open up a business,” Rothfuss confessed. “It’s just taken me a while to figure out what kind of business I wanted to open.”

It took her a while? She’s twenty. How long is “a while” in her world?? This writer is thirty years old and I’m still convinced that one day I will be an astronaut or a professional wrestler.

Ironically, Rothfuss was a barista at Metro earlier in her life which gave her the tools, passion and inspiration she needed to decide what kind of business she wanted to open. She wanted to open a coffee shop, and that’s exactly what she did.

After taking out a loan and refurbishing the space that Crescent Moon now occupies, Rothfuss was in business. There have been hiccups along the way, as there are with any new business, but Rothfuss is confident that Crescent Moon will shine brightly in The District. The thing that really stands out about Crescent Moon is how serious it takes its product.

“It’s extremely important to have a well-rounded place,” Rothfuss said. “Music is great, but coffee is important too. We’re very open and we’re willing to work with what you know about coffee and we’ll hopefully get you further into the world of coffee. We’ll find out what your favorite drink is and then we’ll get you a little more diversified.”

Crescent Moon is full of diverse drinks, whether they’re of the hot or cold variety. Like Metro, they also serve up a variety of sandwiches and pastries that are guaranteed to make mouths water. I was on a mission, however, and it was spelled c-o-f-f-e-e. I ordered a Red Eye (very similar to the Boiler Maker from Metro) and she got to work. As she was making my drink, I took a look around. The space was beautiful. Even more impressive was the fact that Rothfuss and her family renovated it themselves. There was art on the wall and groovy tunes playing in the background and the whole setup made for an aesthetically pleasing scene. There were fewer customers than Metro, which was not surprising. It was, in fact, still a Monday afternoon. Plus, Crescent Moon seems to serve a different type of demographic than Metro does- a fact that Rothfuss not only acknowledges, but actually seems to boast.

“I think we have a quiet atmosphere,” Rothfuss stated. “We have a lot more business people than, like, the younger demographic. This place is more meeting-oriented.”

Crescent Moon definitely has a different vibe, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t open to promoting events as well. As of next month, Crescent Moon will be hosting open mic nights and ukulele nights, which are sure to bring in crowds of all ages.

But still, coffee. That is the most important thing to Rothfuss and it is what differentiates her shop from so many others.

“I like perfecting coffee,” Rothfuss admitted. “I’ve been working on perfecting latte art, which has been difficult but nice.”

The thing that separates both Metro and Crescent Moon from other coffee shops is that they care about providing an “experience” to their patrons. They don’t want somebody to just drive up, pick up a coffee and leave. They want people to order an original drink, pull up a seat and stay a while. It’s why Metro puts on so many events and it’s why Crescent Moon focuses on the art of coffee making. Both shops want to give their customers something to remember. Rothfuss remembers her time at Metro fondly and had nothing but kind things to say about her former home.

“I think they are doing well with the live music and doing things to keep customers coming in at night,” she stated. “I’ve heard great things about them, like the fact that they’ve gotten new furniture and are constantly doing upkeep. I know how hard it is to maintain upkeep, so I definitely give them kudos for that.”

Kudos should go to both shops. Both offer incredible products, beautiful atmospheres and they both offer something unique to The District. So who is the “winner?” Well, the answer should be obvious.

We all are.

Go Back Home

By: By Nick Perkins

Saint Patrick was a missionary and bishop in Ireland during the 5th century. Born in AD 385, Patrick knew that he was destined for great things. When he was sixteen years old, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish Raiders and taken into slavery. According to The Declaration (not of Independence- that came later- this was more of an autobiography-type-thing that Saint P wrote himself), God told Patrick to flee to the coast (because even back then, everybody wanted to live “on the coast), where a ship would be waiting to take him back home. According to legend, that’s exactly what happened. When “P” got back home, he became a priest and allegedly led “thousands” of his countrymen (and women) to Christ. More importantly than eternal salvation, however, was the fact that Saint Patrick and his titular day allow us all to feel a little less guilty about drinking all of the alcohols.

Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian Holiday in the early 17th Century. It takes place on March 17th, the day Saint Patrick died, and it was originally recognized as a Christian Feast day. This meant that Lenten Restrictions (think Prohibition) on eating and drinking were lifted for the day; which signified just one thing- it was bout to get silly, y’all!

We like to think that if ole Saint P was around today, he would choose to spend his proverbial “day” in The District. Luckily for him, and for you, The District has a plethora of options available for The Feast of Saint Patrick.

Such as:

“Afternoon on the Green” at David Street Station

Don’t let modern myth fool you; Saint Patrick’s Day was not originally intended as a day to just merely wear green and drink until you puked it. No, his day was a feast! It was a festival. It was a celebration. It had parades and activities (so many activities!) and food and yes, it had drink, too. That was what Saint Patrick’s Day was originally intended as, and it is that spirit that the David Street Station is channeling with their “Afternoon on the Green.”

From 12pm-3pm, David Street Station will be hosting a celebration that would make 17th century Irish-Catholics proud. There will be corned beef, cabbage and green beer provided by the C85 Wonder Bar. There will also be a wide-variety of kids’ activities, including a Leprechaun Scavenger Hunt, Tic-Tac-Toe, photo booth opportunities and more. Music will be provided by the Casper Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums. A performance by Richens Timm Irish Dance is sure to impress as well. This is the perfect way to start Saint Patrick’s Day off right, the way it’s supposed to be celebrated- with food, friends, family…and beer.

This even should be followed by a short Siesta (not Irish, we know. But naps are bae) and then hire a babysitter for the evening, because it’s time for the grownup portion of this Celtic holiday.

Starting with…

The Gaslight Social

As per euge, The Gaslight Social will be taking what is already a fun holiday and will crank it up to 11 (because it goes to 11). In addition to being the site of the final stop of a 5k Pub Crawl and its after party, The Gaslight will be hosting arcade and cornhole contests all night long. It will also be playing traditional and contemporary Irish tunes until 10pm, when our old friends The Casper Professional Firefighters Pipes and Drums take the stage. There will be a MASSIVE screen projector showing the NCAA basketball games, because sports. The fabulous bartenders and gorgeous waitresses will be serving up green beer and Irish-themed cocktails all night and, of course, corned beef and cabbage will be simmering on the stove tops of some of the best cooks in town, who also happen to be working at The Gaslight. The Gaslight Social is owned by somebody with the last name of “Galloway,” so if you only go to one spot this Saint Patty’s Day, make sure it’s The Gaslight Social.

…No but, like, don’t. You should go to all of these places.

Especially…

The Office Bar and Grill

Not to stereotype, but Irish people are known to do two things better than all others- drink and sing (But seriously, the Irish are a lovely people who are gifted in many things).

Luckily, you are able to do both of these things at The Office Bar and Grill. Nothing goes better with Jameson than Karaoke, so hold onto your butts, boyos, because The Office is offering Saint Patrick’s Day karaoke! Like their contemporaries, The Office will be serving up green beer, corned beef, cabbage, and various Irish-themed liquors all night. There will be numerous drink specials and giveaways but the real attraction is being able to sing Galway Girl with your buds in front of an audience. Nobody will look as good as Gerard Butler whilst doing it, but give it a try m’boy. Try to make the lasses swoon.

The Office should most definitely be at the top of your priority list on Saint Patrick’s Day, because what is an Irish holiday without an Irish drinking song?

But also…

If singing your own songs is not your bag(pipe[…we know that’s Scottish, but we like puns]) then feel free to just take in the music of people who actually sound good even when the audience is not drunk! Tom Coryell and the Incorrigibles (awesome band name), will be headlining Frosty’s Bar and Grill from 8pm-11pm on Saint Patrick’s Very Own Day. This group is an incredible band that is sure to blow your kilt up.

There will also, of course, be drink specials, corned beef, cabbage (you are literally going to be pooping green after this day) giveaways, prizes and more. Frosty’s is the bar that your Irish uncle would be getting into fights at (seriously, there is no higher praise than that) so make sure that you stop by Frosty’s Bar and Grill at some point during your celebrations. Doing anything other than that would be, well, incorrigible.

Needless to say, there is a wealth of options for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in The District. There is music, dancing, food, drink and, most importantly, friends and family. When Saint Patrick was a young man, he knew he was destined to do great things. Not even he knew, however, that he would ever be capable of being the reason that you get to pinch your friends for no reason.

Come celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in The District…because we put the Patrón in Patron Saints.

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Well, it’s ladies night and the mood is right to spend an evening on the town, in The District, with your besties. 90’s R&B songs aside, we think you deserve some time with your girls and, luckily, The District has a plethora of options to give you and your gals a night to remember. Continue reading “Girls Night in The District”

Go Back Home

By: By: Nick Perkins

Your phone goes off. The familiar ringtone (perhaps it’s a Drake song; perhaps it’s the theme song from Full House) alerts you to the fact that you have a text. It’s a simple text, just 3 words, but the ramifications of this text will be felt for years:

 

“Guys night, Bros.”

Ah, Guys Night. It only happens once in a while. You’ve noticed that as your friends get married, it happens less and less frequently. So usually Guys Night consists of you and your cat. But when you and your dudes do get together, magic happens- really inappropriate, testosterone-fueled, cigar smoke-infused magic. Dude Magic, that’s what it is.

The rest of your buds respond ASAP and Guys Night is set. But what to do?

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. The amount of activities available in The District is astounding (There’s so much room for activities!). Whether it’s dinner, drinks, pool or Pac-Man, The District has it all. With that being said, here is our guide (Guy’d?) to Guys Night in The District.

Stop 1) Yellowstone Garage

This piece of Casper history is the perfect place to start the evening. The Garage serves food, drinks and, depending on the season, even showcases live music. But on this night, it is the pool table we’re after. There’s something to be said about a bunch of guys standing around a table, Old Fashioned’s in hand, shooting billiards. Nothing brings people together more than the art of using a stick to put a ball in a hole. That is exactly what you can do at Yellowstone Garage, and that is exactly why it should be the first stop on your list.

 

Stop 2) The Sand Trap

Of course, when one thinks of using a stick to put a ball in a hole, pool is not the only game that comes to mind. Golf is one of the “guyest” games there is. Your grandfather played golf with his friends. Right before they fought in Korea. Did you, Brad? Did you fight in Korea? No, you didn’t. But you can still play golf. In fact, you can play simulated golf which is much better than regular golf because there is no wind to knock over your beer. The Sand Trap does not have wind, but what it does have is excellent golfing suites, fantastic service, booze, bros and birdies. The Sand Trap is an ideal place for a bunch of dudes to be dudes. You can call 307-333-1464 to schedule a tee time. Your grandfather would be proud.

Stop 3) C85 Wonder Bar

Beer. Dudes need beer. Dudes need beer like Jack needs Rebecca. Also, we realize the paradox of referencing This is Us in an article about Guys Night. Dudes need beer like chicks need to not be referred to as ‘chicks.’ No, that doesn’t quite capture it either. Dudes need beer like Batman needs Robin and one of the best places to get beer is at the C85 Wonder Bar. With a self-service style that allows you to pour your own beer by the ounce, this is the perfect place to have the first (or third) of many drinks. You are able to control how much or how little you want, but keep in mind- moderation is key. Last time you did a Guys Night, Greg from IT drank too much, sang “Sweet Caroline” at a bar that was not offering karaoke, threw up all over the bouncer and got you all kicked out. Don’t be like Greg from IT. Drink responsibly. The upper level of the Wonder Bar also resembles something out of Mad Men, with lounge chairs, couches and more. Could you get any manlier than Mad Men? No, you couldn’t. There are two working bars, awesome apps, cool cocktails, a big screen projector and beer. All of the beer. This is the best place to sit down with your group for a pre-dinner cocktail and to discuss who among you makes the most money.

 

Stop 4) The Branding Iron

Speaking of C85, they just opened a brand new burger joint called The Branding Iron. We can’t think of a better food option for a bunch of guys than burgers, and The Branding Iron cooks up some of the best burgers in town. With a variety of toppings, sides, finger foods, a full-service bar and more, this place is just begging to be overridden by a bunch of hungry gentlemen. They’re open until midnight on the weekends, so it’s the perfect midpoint between the beginning of the night to the end of the night. There are various deals being offered between the Wonder Bar and The Branding Iron as well, so if you stop at one, the other might be a little cheaper. The Branding Iron offers  a wide-selection of Burgers named after the best part towns, so it’s like this place was meant for you. There is something for everyone in your group here. They even offer salads, so Phillip doesn’t have to cheat on the diet that his wife is forcing him to be on. Psh. Phillip.

 

Stop 5) The Gaslight Social

Can it even really be called a Guys Night if video games aren’t involved? We don’t think so. Luckily, there is a place in The District that offers video games AS WELL as liquor. It’s like college all over again The Gaslight Social offers a wide-array of arcade-style games, such as Pac-Man, Mario Kart, Jurassic Park and more. They also have ski ball, which Phillip proudly states he and his wife are champions of in their own league. Freakin Phillip- why was he even invited to this? Regardless, in addition to video games, The Gaslight also offers multiple beverage choices of all varieties, awesome food if your burger wasn’t enough (it should have been, but we know what having the munchies is like) and top-of-the-line service. But let’s face it- you’re here for the video games. You were the king of Mario Kart back in the day, and you’re anxious to reclaim your throne. The Gaslight is the place where you are able to do this. Just please don’t call the waitstaff your loyal subjects. They don’t take kindly to that. Despite that, The Gaslight should act as the perfect end to a most perfect night. Tomorrow you have to go back to adulthood- bills, jobs, children, responsibilities, diets (we’re looking at you Phillip), etc. Tomorrow you have to adult. You have to be a grownup. But tonight? Tonight, in The District, you can just be a guy.

 

Bonus Tips for Guys Night

Here are just a few random tips to make this Guys Night the best Guys Night.

 

• Drink responsibly. Nothing kills the mood of a Guys Night more than having to bail Chad out of jail. There are various taxi services, uber, safe rides and more so drinking and driving shouldn’t even be a consideration.

 

• Leave the phones at home. The world can wait for your response for a few more hours. Forget about emails and texts and Facebook for a night. Enjoy the time you’re spending with the people you’re actually with. Make a memory- don’t Snapchat it.

 

• No means no. Of course, there will always be the prospect of meeting a girl throughout the evening. This is inevitable. Some of them might be into you. Some of them might not. If they’re not, take the hint, take a walk and go home and take a cold shower. Once you start screaming at a girl to “LET A NICE GUY WIN FOR ONCE,” you are no longer a nice guy. You’re a creep.

 

• Don’t be afraid to express some emotions. We know it’s not “manly” to do so, but maybe this would be a good opportunity to let your buddies know how much you appreciate them and how glad you are that they’re a part of your life. Even Phillip. It’s not “weak” to tell the people you care about that you do, in fact, care about them.

 

• If you are married or seeing somebody, maybe suggest that next week, you’ll watch the kids and allow her to go out with her friends for a “Girls Night.” This shows that you are thoughtful and considerate, which will go a long way towards her forgiving you when you come home at 3AM.

Go Back Home

By: By Nick Perkins

Listen. We’re going to let you in on a little secret. Nobody is good at karaoke. Like, anybody. Like, ever. Nobody is ever good at karaoke. But, good news- that’s not the point! The point of karaoke is not to audition for season 56 of American Idol. It’s to have fun, to laugh and to make memories that, ideally, alcohol will not impair.

That being said, we are here to present you with a list of Do’s, Don’ts, Tips and Tricks for Karaoke Night in The District. The Office Bar and Grill offers karaoke every Friday and Saturday night so we suggest taking this list to heart. Study it. Memorize it. Live by it. Thank us later.

Do) Make An Event Out of it

Going to the same bar every weekend gets boring. It’s the same old story. Drink, hit on somebody/get hit on by somebody, drunk text an ex, lather, rinse, repeat. So why not make ‘going out’ an actual event and make Friday night “Karaoke Night!!” Gather your group of friends, pick out your favorite matching outfits and prepare a list of various Spice Girls songs to belt out.

Don’t) Snapchat Entire Said Event

It’s dark. It’s loud. Nobody cares. Live for the moment.

Do) Sing Your Little Heart Out

As previously alluded to, nobody is good at karaoke. That shouldn’t inhibit you though. Pick out your favorite song, the one you know all the words to, and sing sing sing. Forget what the crowd thinks, this moment is for you. Lose yourself. You only have one moment. You only have one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted. Would you capture it? Or just let it slip?

Editors Note: Our favorite song to karaoke to is “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.

Don’t) Cry Your Little Heart Out

Okay, so. Karaoke is not for everybody. It is not for somebody who, for instance, recently broke up with his girlfriend, decided to drown his sorrows in Jame-O and decided to serenade the entire bar with his rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl.” He then proceeded to break down in tears, shatter his glass on the wall and yell into the microphone that “She will always be MY BROWN EYED GIRL.” Karaoke was not for me, er, him.

Do) Sing Any Song From the 80’s or 90’s

Who isn’t going to swoon when you sing “Tell Me Why” by the Backstreet Boys? Who isn’t going to respond with “Ba Ba Ba” when you belt out Sweet Caroline? Nobody, that’s who. Nobody isn’t going to do that. So feel free to pick any song from either of those decades. Meatloaf? Stevi Nicks? Check and check. What about Paula Abdul or the Spice Girls? Uhmmm. Yes please. Neil Diamond will forever be a karaoke institution, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Don’t) Sing Any Song from the 2010’s

Nothing is good. Music sucks. Art is dead.

Do) Drink Until You’re Confident

They call it “liquid courage” for a reason. That reason is because it is liquid that gives you courage. Alcohol has transformed the meek little librarian into Madonna. Alcohol has turned your Aunt Joan into Joan of Arc. Alcohol has caused great men to do even greater things, including having the spauldings to sing “Zoot Suit Riot” to a room full of onlookers. It’s okay to be confident. If you’re not, it’s okay to drink until you get that way.

Don’t) Drink Until You’re Over-Confident

Leave your shirt on, chuckles. We’re all here to have a good time and sing and laugh and maybe even dance a little bit. We are not here to see your hips, your back, your bad word or your crack. We hope that your drink has made you feel like you have the voice of Britney Spears. But you do not have her body, Bradley.

So, there you have it. Our list of Do’s and Don’ts are designed to help you achieve maximum fun with minimal effort at The Office. Please do so responsibly. If you had to drink until you remembered all the words to “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” please call a cab. Please don’t start fights. Please leave all of your clothes on. Please don’t boo fellow singers. Please oh please oh please tip your bartenders, your servers and your karaoke DJ’s. The more you tip them, the more you’ll get to sing your little heart out. And isn’t that what this is all about?

Go Back Home

By: By: Nick Perkins

He knew when he was a little boy that this was his dream. When Lyle Murtha, principal architect of Stateline No. 7 Architects, was a grade school student in rural South Dakota, he took a test that outlined various career choices he could pursue, based on the abilities he thought he had.

“I think I was in grade school when I took the little test you take to score your abilities and it sort of pushed me towards math and graphics,” Murtha stated. “I didn’t want to be an artist, ya know, because of that poor starving artist idea, so architecture sort of fit the bill. There was math and graphics and geometry in there too, so it all sort of made sense.”

It all made sense. He had the brain of a statistician and the hands of an artist but it was his heart, more than anything else, that led him into architecture. But Murtha, a graduate of the University of Nebraska, didn’t want to just create new, he wanted to rebuild old. That love for older, historic buildings began, again, when Murtha was a child.

“I grew up in kind of a historic house on a farm in South Dakota and all through my education I was going to school in these older buildings,” Murtha started. “We didn’t have new school buildings. And then when I went to college, I was housed in this old, historic architecture hall on their campus. So, I always had an appreciation.”

“A lot of these buildings were rehashed over the years to become newer, they weren’t just old buildings. I always had an appreciation for the older buildings.”

It is that appreciation that was always in the back of Murtha’s mind while he further developed his craft. He worked for various firms back in his home state of South Dakota, before moving to Casper more than two decades ago. One of the first things he did when he hit town, he said, was to document all of the historic architecture across the city and especially in the Old Yellowstone District.

 

 

“When I first moved to town, some twenty-five years ago, I went around taking pictures of all the cool, old buildings around town,” Murtha said. “Today, none of them are here. They tore them all down and, in most cases, for nothing more than a vacant lot. I’m like, ‘Oh my God this is horrible.’”

“What are we doing? We’re ripping up our downtown so we can pave it like it’s a Walmart parking lot and that’s not what downtowns are about.”

Murtha vowed to himself that, when he was able, he would change that. He designed a variety of projects in Casper, including, but not limited to: FireRock Steakhouse, Wyoms, both Jonah Banks, the Park Ridge Professional building, Wyoming Machinery Company and more. Long story short, dude was busy. But his passion for history never waivered and when a former colleague mentioned that he was interested in being the contractor for a loft-living style building, Murtha knew just the building.

“The same contractor I worked with [in Rapid City] liked the idea [of loft living] and wanted to do it for himself, so when the county annex building came up for sale, I called him up and said ‘Hey, here’s your opportunity, are you in?”

“That became the Hotel Virginia and we introduced loft lifting on a multi-unit scale.”

After restoring that building, Murtha turned his sights towards the Old Yellowstone district. He purchased the now-named T Square building in 2011 and set about restoring a piece of history.

Murtha said the T Square building was “originally a warehouse named the Chicago Northwestern Rail Yard and it stretched from Bloedorn Lumber down to the Nic.”

The building occupied a lot of space and housed a lot of different renters in its 100-year existence. It played host to Party Animals and Two-Tymers, among others. But when Murtha bought it in 2011, he saw so much more potential. He turned that building into a 6,500 square feet office/living area, with an additional 12,300 square feet left unfinished for future developments. Stateline finished this first phase of the project in 2014, acting as their own general contractor in a lot of instances, and it is now something that truly needs to be seen to be believed.

Per their portfolio, “The T Square building embodies the delicate balance between historic preservation and sustainability in this downtown turn-of-the-century railroad warehouse style building. The clear distinction between new and old highlights and pays respect to the historic structure while serving the contemporary uses.”

“The one thing about renovating an older building like this is that in some ways, it’s easier and in some ways it’s more difficult,” Murtha said. “A lot of them already have the character- the architecture is already there. The building shell and the structure, the bones of the building, etc. So you really have to set your ego aside and play to what is already there.”

“When you do a renovation to an existing building, at least in my opinion, if you’re doing it right, you should respect what’s there.”

And, really, that is what it’s all about for Murtha and his team at Stateline No. 7 Architects. Respect. They respect the history of downtown Casper. They respect the culture. They respect the work it takes to create a downtown that people actually want to be a part of.

“One of the reasons why I wanted to buy this particular building (it was way more work than I thought it would be), but because it was on a prominent corner, I knew it would sort of be an advertisement for this type of work,” Murtha said.

 

 

It was, and many other businesses wanted to follow suit. Art 321 was designed by Murtha with the same aesthetics of T Square in mind- very industrial with exposed duct work exposed conduit,old-school lighting fixtures and more. With other architects and contractors seemingly taking a page out of Murtha’s book, it quickly became evident that downtown Casper was going to be transformed and everybody, it seemed, wanted to be a part of history.

“Other firms came along too,” Murtha said. “And we helped them realize that you really should just leave well enough alone and, yeah, you have to put in new lighting and you have to replace windows and things like that, but do it in a way that respects the building.”

“It’s not just about renovating the building,” Murtha continued. “It’s about the greater community and we got into revitalizing downtown buildings because a lot of these older buildings are in the older, downtown part of town. So then we started evolving into other projects- not necessarily renovation projects but new construction in downtown.”

That new construction in downtown transformed into the David Street Station, a huge plaza right in the heart of The District. “It sort of ties into the [idea] of bringing people back to downtown,” Murtha admitted.

With the renovation of older buildings and the creation of new ones, downtown Casper is thriving. The addition of various bars and restaurants and shops to The District has made it a destination for community members.

And perhaps this was Murtha’s goal all along. When he came to Casper 25 years ago, he wanted to live in a community that not only respected the history of its buildings, but also one that wanted a different kind of culture.

“Denver and other cities have always focused on their downtown and I think Casperites, in my mind, have always strived for that cultural fix of having an art museum and things downtown and now we can keep our money here; we can keep our people here on weekends instead of sending them to Colorado,” he said. “People understand. They don’t like what it used to be and they’re digging what’s happening and they’re coming down, they’re supporting it. They’re spending their money and they’re spending their time. People are coming. It’s working.”

The saying went, “If you build it, they will come” and that’s exactly what happened. Murtha and a host of others have committed to turning downtown Casper into a thriving community, with respect for the past and eyes on the future.

So what does the future hold for Murtha? What would he like to see in The District?

“We need downtown living,” he said. “We need somebody to come into the Old Yellowstone District and build some downtown living units.”

Downtown living is something Murtha is no stranger to, as the T Square building serves as both his office and his home.

“It’s cool to live downtown. It’s a trend that I think the younger generation gets, but not so much the older generation. They’re still tied to living in the suburbs and wanting to mow the lawn, for whatever reason.”

Specifically, Murtha has his eyes on another building that he hopes will be his to one day design, pending legislation funding.

“Your favorite project should always be your next project,” Murtha said. “Our next project, hopefully, will be the Casper State Office Building.”

With his eyes on the future and his thoughts in the present, Murtha said he is proud to be a part of a growing downtown district. Revitalizing historic buildings, using his talents to preserve stories and helping to draw communities closer together has been his dream since he was a little boy. He couldn’t have know then that he would literally help rebuild an entire district. Back then, he was just a little boy with a pencil and a dream.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Go Back Home

By:

 The Wyoming Craft Beer explosion has been here for quite some time. It’s really no surprise to anyone, and if you asked, people could name several Wyoming breweries and even tell you what some of their favorite beers are.
Not only has the number of breweries increased in Wyoming, but more of them are distributing their fine beers across the state. Arguably, Casper my be one of the most thirsty towns for Wyoming craft beer. We travel the state and visit breweries, and we host some really great craft beer events. Our crowd knows what they like, and they are ready to try something new from our Wyoming breweries who work so hard to make great, and award winning craft beer. It’s safe to say Casper is a craft beer town, but it’s even safer to say Casper is a Wyoming beer town.
Much like the downtown of many Colorado cities, getting together with a group of friends and hopping from place to place to try beers and have a good time is becoming a weekend norm. The six blocks of the District boasts Casper’s hot spot for craft beer. But not just all craft beer, Wyoming craft beer. If you are looking for a mini-tour with friends or just something new, the District is where to go to wet your whistle.
Although the taps are always changing, there are over twenty four Wyoming brews in the District right now:
Mishap Brewery:
Raspberry Blonde
Blacktooth Brewery: 
1314
Saddle Bronc Brown
Bomber Mountain Amber
Baltic Porter
Cowboy Joe
Copper Mule
Tensleep Brewery:
Speedgoat
Lander Brewing Company:
Rock Chuck Rye
Half Tanked Here
Chile Ale
Chain Reaction
IPA
Weizen Bock
Gold Kolsch
Big Lost:
Black Alt
Melvin:
Hubert
2×4
Killer Bees
Hey Zeus
Luminous:
Saison
Snake River:
Pale Ale
Pako’s
Roadhouse:
Family Vacation

Go Back Home

By: Nick Perkins

Nostalgia. The word comes from the Greek root-words “Nostos,” which quite literally means “to return home” and “Algia,” which is described as “a painful condition.”

For Chefs Kayla Page and Bob Henry, they knew it was going to be a battle against nostalgia when they accepted positions with the newly-christened C85 Group, which includes the C85 Pump Room (formally Poor Boys restaurant), the former Galles Liquor Mart, a burger-joint called The Branding Iron and, of course, The Wonder Bar. The latter was an especially controversial point of contention and when it was announced that The Wonder Bar would be getting a facelift, the reaction was…not good. It was, in fact, a very painful condition.

Still, both Henry and Page came on board of what many thought would be a sinking ship. Henry would be the Culinary Manager of C85 Group as a whole and Page would be the Kitchen Manager of The Wonder Bar. Both would be thankless positions at first. But they trusted themselves and they trusted each other. They didn’t want to fight nostalgia; they wanted to embrace it.

“The moment that I walked into this restaurant, I saw history being brought back,” said Chef Kayla. “We are really trying to bring back a part of history with each restaurant- whether it’s physically, emotionally, mentally- even by the food.”

The food is what both chefs are most passionate about and it shows with each entrée that is created. Chef Bob Henry is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Scottsdale. He is classically trained and when the opportunity arose for him to work with Cole Cercy, owner of C85 Group, he knew this was a chance to bring something different to Casper.

“I knew Cole Cercy for quite a bit and [opening a string of restaurants] is one of the dreams that he wanted to fulfill,” Henry said. “He wanted to bring some great restaurants into Casper and start going down a new career path and so we got together, and I decided ‘Yeah, I’d like to go on a new adventure.’”

Joining Chef Bob on this adventure was Kayla Page. A Casper native, Page had worked in restaurants for years, both in and out of the kitchen.

“I started in restaurants when I was younger and tried different things elsewhere but for some reason [I] just kept getting dragged back to the food,” Page admitted. “I was good at it. I’m passionate about it. I’m consistent. That’s just what I thrive in. I love the people’s reactions when I hand them a dish and see their faces just light up, like they’re just mesmerized by that plate. It’s very passion-driven.”

Passion is the word that both chefs kept coming back to in our conversation.

“You have to have passion for food,” Chef Bob almost scolded. “If you don’t have passion for food, you have nothing in a kitchen. You can’t make that beautiful plate that you want to make consistent every time. You have to want to wake up every day and walk into that kitchen and make it happen and if you don’t have that drive, you can’t really do anything successfully.”

Both chefs were determined to make The Wonder Bar a success, and they knew the key to that success came not from themselves, but from the team they surrounded themselves with.

“The hard part is that I know I can do it,” Henry stated. “But can I teach a crew of 17 people to do it? Can I get a crew of 17 people to believe in what I believe in and to hold the standard and the expectation that we want to set for all the guests that come into our place?”

It was important for Henry to build a team that he would stand not in front of nor behind, but next to, side by side, in the trenches.

“The biggest and most important thing to me is making sure that my people are taken care of and that they know that I stand by them every day in battle. If they see that, then they will follow and they will become great.”

With the culinary avengers assembled, Henry and Page focused the rest of their attention on building a menu that was new, but familiar. There were hiccups along the way. There were growing pains. There was feedback- some good and some not so good. But they’ve listened to all of it, and have adjusted accordingly.

“We’re working on a seasonal menu right now because we listen to Casper,” Henry said. “We’ve listened to them say ‘Hey, the food is really great but we feel like the price point is a little high. We feel like we want a soup or a salad with our entrees.’ We’ve made some of those adjustments already and we’re making a seasonal menu that’s going to bring a price point to Casper that I think is what they’re looking for.”

Henry continued, saying “we are constantly listening and we want to make changes and adapt so that Casper can come back into their Wonder Bar and have a wonderful time.”

The Wonder Bar looks a little different. There are new bars and a new staff and new food. But the spirit is still there. The history is there. The memories are there and, perhaps most importantly, the passion is there. This passion starts at the top and trickles all the way down. Everybody involved with The Wonder Bar, The Branding Iron (which opens January 2nd) and the other C85 establishments have committed to creating something special.

Still, there are those who will dig their heels in the ground, cross their arms and say, “this is MY house, not theirs.” That’s okay. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Chef Bob and Chef Kayla know this and they are not going to fight it. They are going to use it. That’s why they take extra time to make sure that when you bite into a 100% Wyoming-raised steak, it will take you to another time, another place. When you bite into a piece of chicken fried quail, you are going to remember the first time your grandmother made your favorite meal.

“I wanted to give Casper something that they know, but cook it in a technical way,” Henry said.

And that’s exactly what he’s doing. Gone are the days of a deep fried Tower of Taste (not that there’s anything wrong with deep fried, well, anything) and in its place are meatloaf bites, deconstructed grilled cheese and tomato bisques and more. The nostalgia is real and you can taste it in every bite. We might miss the greasy goodness that comes from soaking up a pint of beer with a trash can burger, but the minute one bites into a Monte Cristo sandwich, that person is transported back to a time before they were even old enough to drink. The food that was previously served at the Wonder Bar was good. It was comforting. It was…home. The food being served now is all of that and more. It is transcendent. It is cooked with nostalgia in mind and with passion in the hearts of those who prepare it.

You’re going to taste the passion that these chefs have. And then you’re going to come back for more.

“That’s what C85 Group is all about,” Henry stated. “We want to make downtown Casper great again and we want people to come down here and thrive and hang out and shop and be able to have places to go and eat.”

With three restaurant/bars within walking distance of each other, that should not be a problem. It’s just up to the community to embrace their nostalgia while also remaining willing to create new memories in new places, with new people. According to Chef Kayla, that’s all the staff of C85 wants- a chance.

“Come in. Give us a try. Come see what we’ve done. Everyone that is in this building is here because of you and our biggest goal is to make sure that Casper knows that the Wonder Bar is here to stay and we want everyone to come celebrate with us.”

 

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The guitar echoed through the city streets of downtown Casper. The bass drum reverberated off the old buildings. The lights reflected off the clouds in the sky. He took the stage of David Street Station, and then he took the microphone.

“Casper!…Are ya’ll ready to have some fun?”

They were. They have been. They just needed a place to do it.

For a time, live music in Casper was becoming somewhat of a dying art. There would be the occasional show once in a while at this place or that, but those shows were few and far between. Whether it was because interest in live music was waning, or because the town was too busy preparing for the apocalypse (IE, the Eclipse), or because of some other unknown reason, live music more or less took a back seat to other “events.” The talent was there. The talent has always been there. Casper and its surrounding areas are full of incredibly talented musicians. They just needed a place to demonstrate that talent.

In downtown Casper, in The District, they seem to have found that place.

The District was created to promote culture, community and music. It was created to highlight various venues in downtown Casper that promote those very same things. Places like the David Street Station, The Gaslight Social, Metro Coffee Company and many more have played host to numerous bands and artists from Casper and beyond. These musicians vary in style and experience, but all have demonstrated what The District is about- Community. Culture. Music.

From up-and-coming country rocker Dylan Scott playing a free show at the David Street Station, to Wyoming-born legends The Patti Fiasco rocking The Gaslight with their unique brand of rockabilly lullabies, live music has never been more “alive” in Casper than it is right now. Places like Metro Coffee Co. have hosted bands such as The Millenials, Speed the Pilgrim, Leftover and more, as well as artists such as Steve Frames, Michael Graves and even jazz combos from the local high schools. Urban Bottle professes that they are “a liquor store love story,” and every love story needs a killer playlist. That playlist has consisted of various jazz trios, local favorite John Kirlin, Moral Panic (the band not the, like, idea of) and more. Bars like Frosty’s or The Office or C85 have played host to a wealth of bands, as well; reminding us all of happier times with smoke-filled rooms, booze, and music so loud and so passionate and so real, that it literally (okay, figuratively) takes you to another place. The smoke-filled rooms part might not exist anymore, but the rest of it does and it exemplifies what The District is all about.

People from all backgrounds, of all ages, with all different kinds of experiences are able to come together at these various venues and lose themselves in the music (the moment, you want it, you better never let it go). Whether it is a cowboy and his girl slow dancing to Dylan Scott under the stars at David Street Station, an old man sipping his tonic and gin while listening to Jeff Stanley at Yellowstone Garage or a baby punk and her best friend planning the next revolution while The Patti Fiasco plays in the background, the venues that make up The District have something to offer anybody who dares to listen. And, if you listen closely enough, you’ll hear that each band who plays in these venues represents the same ideas that make up The District.

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Relationships are a difficult thing. They’re hard to start, and they’re incredibly hard to maintain. They’re also, for some people, hard to end. Some people will stay in a relationship that they hate, simply due to the fact that they don’t know how to end it. Chances are, you’ve been in this type of relationship, as either the one who wanted to end it or the one who was oblivious to the fact that the other one wanted to end it. If you’re the latter, we have compiled a list of ten reasons why she doesn’t like you.

#10- You Still Live With Your Parents

There is nothing that kills the mood easier than being…intimate…with a girl and her wanting to go back to your place and you saying that you still live with Mom and Dad. Now, if you’re like me, you can use this to your advantage and actually make yourself seem more charming. Unfortunately, you’re not like me, so you probably can’t. Which means if you want to create and maintain a relationship, you need to move out of the basement.

#9- You’re 30 and Still Play Video Games

I love video games. But you know what I love more than video games? Girls. Ya know why? Because you can kiss girls. Can you kiss your X-Box? No, you can’t. So it’s time to start actually going out and spending time with real people, not just the people on your Playstation network.

#8- You Dress Like A MMA Fighter

You should only wear Tap Out shirts if you’re 12-0. You should only wear Affliction shirts if you live in Jersey. You should only wear Under Armor if you want the world to see your every nook and cranny. Those are the only three appropriate situations otherwise, be a man and suit up!

#7- You Don’t Pay For Anything

It’s your first date, your palms are sweaty , you have butterflies in your stomach and all you want is for everything to go perfectly. You take her to the finest restaurant, order the wine, the lobster and some French dessert you don’t know how to pronounce. You’re looking deep into each other’s eyes and you are smitten. Then it comes time to pay, and you realize you forgot your wallet. Though embarrassing, this instance could be adorable and charming if you play it right. 9 months later, if you’re still “forgetting” your wallet, you’re no longer adorable and charming. You’re a mooch and she’s losing patience. If you want to impress the girl, be a man, act chivalrous, and pay for stuff! Pay for everything! Movies, dinner, wine- everything! It’s not sexist. It’s not ‘old-world-thinking.’ It’s the way it’s supposed to be.

#6- You’re Constantly On Your Phone

We get it. You’re very busy and important. And you’re aloof, so you don’t know how important and busy you are. Cool, dude. You’re awesome. But when you’re with your lady, make her your priority. She didn’t go out with you to watch you text, tweet, tumblr, or insta-whatever.

#5- Her Parents Don’t Like You

I am of the belief that after the girl herself, the next most important people to impress are her parents. Women do care what their parents think. They want to be taken care of, and they want their parents to know that they can be taken care of. By you. This is why it’s incredibly important to impress them. So when you don’t, it sends out a huge red flag.

#4- Her Friends Don’t Like You

The only people that matter more to a girl than her parents are her friends, in terms of dating. Here’s a secret: your girl will tell her best friend everything. Everything. Your first date, your first kiss, your first time making love, how good you were at it, how bad you were at it, how long it lasted, how you cried after, everything. She will tell her best friend every last detail of your relationship. This is why it really helps to impress her friends, so they can be on your team. If her friends hate you, it will only be a matter of time before they decide to take it upon themselves to end your relationship. Make friends with them. Show them that you are the one guy in the entire world that deserves their friend. If they hate you, she will hate you.

#3- You’re Too Clingy

I’ve never really subscribed to the “3-days” rule, that being that you wait 3 days after a date before you call the girl. I’ve always thought that if you like the girl and want to see her again, call her. But there’s a difference between calling her once, after a date, and texting her ten times after a date. Dude, don’t be a creep. The worst, absolutely worst thing in the world is a clingy dude. Standing outside of her house in the rain is cute in the movies. In real life, it’s creepy and borderline stalker-ish. Give her space. Let her decide what she wants. And ya know what, if she doesn’t want you, forget her and move on! There are a lot of women out there. She’s not the only one, so don’t crowd her, don’t freak her out, and don’t be clingy.

#2- You’re Her Best Friend

Here’s the deal, bud. Guys and girls can be friends, without one of them wanting more. But it’s hard. It takes strength, respect, and the conscious decision not to drink an inordinate amount of alcohol when you’re both horny and lonely. And ya know what? The good news is, your friendship with a girl will probably last a lot longer than any romantic relationship will. Statistically, romantic relationships don’t usually last. But friendships do. This is one of the biggest reasons why she doesn’t “like like” you. She knows that friendship is usually stronger than romance, and she would prefer to have someone in her life who she can talk to, cry to, open up to, and trust. She wants someone who she can be vulnerable with and trust that he’s not just trying to get in her pants. She wants you in her life forever, not just for a year or two, or four.

#1- She Doesn’t Know That You Like Her

Take a chance. Jump. Sink or swim. Whether it’s a girl at a bar, at a market, in the library, or your aforementioned best friend, if you like her, tell her. Picture this: you’re at a bar and you see a girl walk in. You know, after 5 seconds of seeing her, that she’s not like any other girl in the bar. She’s beautiful but she doesn’t know it. She’s not dressed in order to get free drinks. You can’t take your eyes off of her, and every single other girl in the bar disappears. But you never talk to her, never know her name, never know who she is, or who she could be to you. You’re too scared to talk to her. You’re too scared of rejection. You don’t want the embarrassment. Well guess what bud, you just missed your chance to potentially meet the love of your life, all because you were afraid she wouldn’t like you. But what if she did? What if you went up to her, bought her a drink, and talked to her- not about yourself, or her chest, but about who she is/what she does/where she wants to be? What would happen? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. The biggest reason “She” doesn’t like you, is because she doesn’t know that you like her. So tell her you do. And don’t be afraid of the outcome.

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As Casper bears witness to the rise of The District, we thought we would highlight some other districts that have had a cultural impact throughout the years.

Of course, no district has had as much of an impact as District 12.

District 12 is one of thirteen districts that make up Panem, the fictional dystopia in the hugely successful Hunger Games Trilogy. District 12 is the smallest and poorest district in Panem, but it is also the district that seemingly had the most to offer, that being literary heroine Katniss Everdeen. Katniss rose from the ashes that was District 12 and became a symbol of hope to not only her fellow countrymen and women, but also to an entire generation who happened to read or watch The Hunger Games.

What Katniss Everdeen stood for are things that we should all strive to attain. She stood for courage under pressure. She stood for hope. She stood for passion. More than anything, Katniss Everdeen stood for her fellow man and woman. She didn’t see districts or victors or rebels or The Capitol. Katniss just saw human beings. And that is who she stood for. That is who she fought for. And that is who she led.

Katniss Everdeen made District 12 the 2nd most important district in the world. The MOST important district is, of course, The District, located here in Casper Wyoming. Just as Katniss rose up to lead a nation, so too are the businesses and individuals in The District. The District is made up of musicians, chefs, artists, visionaries and rebels- all with one common goal, which is to make Casper one of the capitol destinations for visitors to Wyoming. Perhaps one of these people will rise to even greater heights. Perhaps a lot of them will. It wouldn’t surprise us, because we have met some incredible individuals in The District. And while they may not resemble Katniss Everdeen in appearance (because nobody could ever look like J-Law) many of them absolutely represent her in spirit. And any of these people would be a proud representative of The District, if we ever had to battle in the Hunger Games.

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So it finally happened. Weeks after swiping right on your dream girl, you’ve finally convinced her to go on a date with you. Now, this is no ordinary girl, and you are convinced that she has a multitude of suitors lined up if this date does not go well. THIS DATE HAS TO GO WELL, you yell at your reflection. First of all, stop talking to your reflection. It’s weird. Secondly, calm down. Take a deep breath, count to ten and continue reading.

We got this.

This date will go beyond a mere dinner and a movie. No, you are going to take her into the heart of The District and, in return, maybe she will offer hers to you. You can achieve this in 5 easy stops.

 

Stop 1)-Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana

Look, we know we said this date has to be more than dinner and a movie, and it will be, but dinner IS an important aspect of a date that should never be overlooked. Especially if this girl is one of those versions that gets Hangry easily. We don’t want to risk that, so let’s start with dinner, yea?

Luckily, Racca’s Pizzeria Napoletana has you covered in terms of quality, affordability, and ambiance. You will probably never taste better pizza than the pizza at Racca’s, and that’s because the quality used in each ingredient is second to none. Every ingredient is fresh and Marcos uses 00 Caputo flour, which adds the extra chewy texture that we all love.

In addition to pizzas, Racca’s also offers wonderful salads, sandwiches, wings and more. Plus, they have a full service bar, which will serve you well because you and your date will both undoubtedly need a tension-quelling drink, seeing as how this is your first date and all.

So buy your lady a drink. Order some pizza (and wings. Do NOT forget the wings). Don’t forget your manners, either. Pull out her chair. Use your napkin. Maintain eye contact. If you do all of these things, Stop 1 will be a success.

Which leads us to…

 

Stop 2)- The David Street Station

If you planned this date thoroughly (and you should have, being that you’ve waited for this day your entire life, it seems), then you would have chosen a night where something really cool is happening at the David Street Station. Lucky for you, there’s almost always something cool happening at David Street Station. Whether it’s a concert, a tail gate or a fall festival, the David Street Station delights in bringing the community together for some fun under the sun and/or stars.  Hopefully, this will benefit you.

If it’s a concert, this is the perfect opportunity to “woo” her a little bit. Maybe there will be a slow song playing, and you could gently take her hand in yours. Because be honest, when’s the last time you actually tried to hold a girl’s hand? Not since middle school, right? Yet for some reason, this girl makes you feel like holding her hand would be akin to winning the lottery. Tell her that. Then take her hand. Then let the words of a love song take you both away as the moonlight shines in her blush.

Then, proceed to…

 

Stop 3)- Urban Bottle

If it’s still early enough in the night and you think things are going well, you might want to stop by Urban Bottle to gather some supplies. Urban Bottle is so much more than just a liquor shed. In fact, according to their website, they are a liquor store love story. Urban Bottle specializes in various tastings, pairings and more, in addition to offering an immense supply of the best beer, wine and liquor that money can buy. The liquor store is not ran by “clerks” just trying to collect a paycheck either. The people working at Urban Bottle have a knowledge and passion for the products they are selling. They will be able to answer any question you have (such as: what’s a good wine to make my hands stop being so sweaty?) and can make suggestions that will turn your night into, hopefully, a love story of your own.

 

Stop 4)- C85 Wonderbar

Listen. We’re not saying you need alcohol to have a good time. It just, ya know, helps. After snagging a bottle of Red from Urban Bottle, you and your date will want to stop by the C85 Wonderbar to experience some history with a little flare. The Wonderbar is one of the oldest bars in Casper, and it has been given a facelift to coincide with all of the other culture that has come to The District. C85 is a multi-leveled, self-serving bar. The service is excellent but you’re also able to pour your own beer and pay for it by the ounce. There is a lounge area as well, if you’re feeling especially Mad Men-ish. This is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail in a more intimate environment, before heading to…

 

Stop 5)- The Gaslight Social

Young couple having a drink together at the bar

As the name implies, this is THE bar to go to if you’re feeling a bit, well, social. As one of the newest bars in The District, the Gaslight is THE bub for people of all ages looking for food, fun, drinks and some of the best service around. Dinner was a while ago, so you may want to ask your date if she’s hungry again. If she says yes, you marry that girl. But before that, you can order from a menu featuring a wide variety of burgers, sandwiches, nachos and more. The food menu pales in comparison to the drink menu, however. Gaslight has a multitude of beers on tap, wines and cocktails that will blow your mind without breaking your bank. AND THE GAMES! There are numerous arcade-style games throughout Gaslight, so you will be able to show your girl that, in addition to being the strong/silent type, you also have a playful side. You can demonstrate this to her by absolutely destroying her in Mario Kart.

 

And there you have it- our guide to the perfect Date Night in The District. We’ve done our part. Now it’s up to you. Be kind. Be charming. Be respectful. She agreed to meet you and that was the hardest part. Now, all you have to do is follow our guide and just be yourself. We’ll be looking for the wedding invite in the mail!

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