JACKSON, Wyo. — A recently introduced bill in the Wyoming Legislature seeks to designate the Teton County Fairgrounds as a state historic site, protecting it from being used for housing development.

HB218, Jackson Hole Rodeo and Fairgrounds-State Historic Site, states that “all lands shall be used only as the Teton County Fairgrounds and for other western heritage, agricultural and public recreational purposes and shall not be modified, altered, traded, sold or otherwise disposed of without the approval of the legislature.”

The property is owned by the Town of Jackson (TOJ) and leased to Teton County. The Jackson Hole Rodeo currently holds a concessionaire agreement with the Town to operate the rodeo through 2026.

While the current Fairgrounds property is about 12 acres, the bill seeks to encompass the original 26 acres the town acquired back in 1941, which includes the town-owned property across the street on W. Snow King Avenue, home to the Parks and Recreation shop and a TOJ employee housing project.

Photo: Teton County GIS

The bill also includes renaming the 26-acre area to the Rylee McCollum Teton County Fairgrounds State Historic Site.

The bill cites that “tourism has emerged as the economic engine of the state” and that the Teton County Fair draws 15,000 attendees and the Jackson Hole Rodeo attracts 70,000 visitors.

The bill also cites that it is the state of Wyoming’s obligation to ensure that the sign at the top of Teton Pass that says, “Howdy stranger; Yonder is Jackson Hole; The Last of the Old West,” remains true for generations to follow.

In May, Teton County Fair Board Chairman Zach Vosika spoke before the Jackson Town Council and the Teton County Board of County Commissioners about the proposed $40 million SPET initiative to move the fairgrounds complex. The item was later removed from the SPET ballot in a unanimous vote by town and county electeds.

Vosika said the board supports the relocation of the fairgrounds and event complex, citing that the current space and facilities are not large enough to hold a variety of events.

“The fairgrounds currently operate on 12.35 acres of land, the Fair Board has extreme difficulty planning the fair within the current footprint and more space would allow for increased opportunities,” Vosika said.

At the same meeting, “Save our Fairgrounds” advocate Blair Maus discusses an “improve what we have” approach rather than relocation. “Anytime the town has a need, they take it from the fairgrounds,” Maus said.

Representative John Winter (R- Big Horn, Fremont, Hot Springs, Park Counties) is the sponsor of the bill and Senator Lynn Hutchings (R-Laramie) is co-sponsoring HB218.

At the time of publishing, the bill has not been assigned to a committee.

Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.