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‘Best summer yet’ for David Street Station, pending public health orders

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. —For the past 2 summers, June 1 has been the day the splash pads open at David Street Station, downtown Casper’s premier outdoor venue.  The event typically inaugurates the summer season at the Station, which includes the Food for Thought Summer Market, Brew Fest, Fiesta Wyo, Summer Concert Series, and Family Movie Night Events. 

Now, the fate and schedule of those events for the 2020 summer season await Governor Mark Gordon and public health officials’ orders on when and how to reopen public spaces. The current orders extend to April 30th.

“We were prepping for our best summer yet,” said Kevin Hawley, executive director for the Downtown Development Authority. He said all previous events held at the Station were coming back, but “tweaked and enhanced” to keep them fresh and interesting.

“Nothing has been cancelled,” Hawley said.

He’s particularly excited by some of the acts he and the Downtown Development Authority are working to book for the Summer Concert Series. “We’re looking to expand beyond some our well-known regional acts, reaching to the East Coast, even.”

Hawley added,  “I feel pretty confident that end of August is going to be solid.”

The public closures and continued uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic have presented unique logistical challenges to Hawley and David Street Station event planners.

“We’re planning for contingency after contingency,” Hawley said. “We have 3-4 possible dates for each planned event.” He says he’s proud of the team for groundwork they’ve done in the planning. 

The uncertainty also affects sponsorship money. David Street Station runs completely on private funding for its events. Hawley said it’s untenable to approach the sponsors without event schedules in place. But he expects a “plug-and-play” operation once things get rolling.

There have been silver linings, though, said Hawley. He credited David Street Station operations manager Jackie Landess, marketing manager Julie Schmit, and event specialist Brooke Montgomery with “stepping up their game” to take time to produce graphic design and market materials in-house, work that might otherwise have been out-sourced. “It’s adapt or die,” Hawley said.

According to Hawley, between 400,000 and 450,000 and people attend events at the station each year, and sales tax revenues from downtown businesses went up more than 24% in the first year of full operation.

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.