Congratulations to all of the participants at the recent Wyoming State Fair Sheep Wagon competition. It was an impressive event, kicked off with a great chuck wagon breakfast on Sunday morning. I had the privilege of participating in the wagon judging and can’t say enough about how warm and welcoming everyone was. The wagon display included a wide variety of styles including a WW1 era Army Escort wagon, multiple chuck wagons and buggies as well as fourteen sheep wagons signed up for the competition.
Vehicles from the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s were represented with about an equal number of wooden wheeled and rubber-tired sheep wagons shown. Box makers we could conclusively determine included Florence and Home on the Range. I was also able to identify running gears originally built by makers such as Bain, Mitchell, Peter Schuttler, Owensboro, Studebaker, Winona, John Deere, and Stoughton. Author, sheep wagon authority, and fellow judge, Tom Lindmier, was gracious enough to show me a few more wagons in the area. It all made for a full and memorable trip. Below is a brief look at a few winners from this year’s Wyoming State Fair Sheep Wagon Competition.
Classified in the "Restored with Modifications" category, the Valentine Sheep wagon entry captured this segment.
New for this year, the "Personal Touch" category helped highlight some of the more customized Sheep Wagon entries. The Garber entry received the highest total points in this class.
John Sullivan and the Sullivan Ranch took home top honors in the “Unrestored Working” sheep wagon classification. His wagon is an original “Home on the Range” brand.
In the "Unrestored Original" category, Bob Vollman received the most points from the 4 judges. His original Florence bed was mated to a Mitchell running gear.
The "People's Choice" sheep wagon award went to Richard Kaan from the Fall River Carriage Company.
Thanks, again, to the event organizer, Steve Shadwick, and all of the great folks at the Wyoming State Fair. The wagons at the gathering represented a good cross-section of early manufacturers. Some of the period designs rode on Mountain Wagon gears with steel skeins (correctly pronounced with a long ‘a’ as in “skains”) while others were equipped with cast skeins. Combined with comfortable weather and a super-friendly atmosphere, the only thing missing for me was the opportunity to stay longer. After two days at the fair, work was calling and it was time to hit the trail once again. My trip to the region took me past old stage stations, military forts, sections of the Bozeman and Oregon Trails, numerous museums, and even a historic buffalo jump. One thing’s for certain, if you enjoy America’s western history and early wagons, this annual event – and the entire area – should be on your bucket list. To punctuate that a bit, in an upcoming blog we’ll share even more about several additional wagons located on the Wyoming State Fairgrounds in Douglas.