GUERNSEY – If you weren’t in Guernsey for the Fourth of July this year, you were most likely one of the only ones who wasn’t there.
The town was filled with cars, throngs of people and many activities that made the small-town seem to double in population.
There was a parade that kicked it all off which began at Guernsey-Sunrise High School and proceeded down S. Wyoming Street and then down Main Street. It had to be the longest parade in a small-town that most had ever seen.
Due to the election year, there were several entrants in the parade that were running for office. Some on horseback and some strolling down the avenue with signs and candy. In addition, there were classic cars, muscle cars, beater cars, pick-em-up trucks, emergency vehicles, two motorcycle clubs, flat-bed trailers, army vehicles including one which looked like a Humvee tank, bicycles and a tractor.
Many organizations were represented from all over Platte County, and when the comments were coming in dealing with the pictures, most said they either “missed Guernsey” or expressed regret that they didn’t make the trip up.
As the parade ended, the crowd spilled over and made their way toward the bandshell where music was blaring and the crowd was gathering for an afternoon in the park. Hub City Motorcycle Club had set up a water slide, there was homemade food being served and dancing ensued.
Most of the crowd hung around and picnicked until the fireworks began at dusk.
When some towns in America were either shutting down due to COVID-19 or watching their flags and monuments being desecrated, Guernsey promoted flag-waving, truck driving, gun toting, hug your neck hospitality that makes it true Wyoming Friendly.
Mitch Blackwell from Wheatland said, “It’s like Mayberry with guns.”
And the guns were on display at the gun show which was being sponsored and run by Shane and Misty Clevenger of Able Tactical. This is the fifth year that the show was being held at the VFW, but different this year was that the venue was renovated with everything from new Sheetrock to new air conditioning units.
“This is our sixth year,” Shane Clevenger said. “We did the first one down at the auction barn the first year, but we’ve been here ever since. With the new lights and air conditioning that they’ve added here it’s a lot better.”
Clevenger said that he was also donating his time to help with the finishing of the VFW renovation.
There were 10 vendors who had been a part of the gun show and the Clevengers said that there are already more who are wanting to sign up for next year’s show including a woman who has bath salts and scents.
Along with both rifles and handguns for sale, there were tables with ammunition for sale, hand-stitched items, homemade seasonings, Sense products and handmade crafts. Unlike other years and do to the COVID-19 restrictions, the annual brisket that Shane Clevenger cooks was not able to be done this year, and it was the first year that no food was provided.
“We didn’t even advertise this year because of the whole COVID thing,” he said. “We normally put it on the internet on our sportsman’s page. We usually put it online in January or February at the latest and we usually get people signing up from that, but didn’t do that due to the pandemic.”
COVID affected the local gun shop as it did a lot of local businesses. There was not as much walk-in traffic and people just were not spending money on guns with an uncertain future.
On the other hand, as the rioting became a big thing nationally, business has really picked up.
“Even with the COVID stuff,” he said, “I got an email from a distributor saying that he had 480,000 rounds of ammunition. I called him on Monday because he emailed me Friday, and it was all gone. All the ammunition was gone. We’ve had some business pickup, but being able to replace our inventory is really tough right now.”
Not only the men have been seeking after more security for their homes, but women as well are looking for more education and more training.
“Our pistol training class,” Misty Clevenger said, “I know I’ve been approached just recently by an increased number of women wanting to take all these classes because they want to be more familiar with handguns and the handling, and the actual training portion.”
The show ran both Saturday and Sunday and there was a steady flow of customers.
Tubing the Platte
Driving out of Guernsey is sometimes a bottleneck due to all the people heading in and out of Guernsey State Park. That was a hotbed for tourists on the Fourth of July, but the bottlenecks and traffic slowdowns came a little more east as cars lined the banks of the Platte River with cars hauling trailers for their innertubes.
With the new and improved launch site on the east side of the river just south of the bridge, the cars were bumper to bumper to offload their tubes. Not only conventional tubes, but commercial tubes, and large 6-8 person tubes and galvanized troughs were backed up, waiting to get into the water, giving the groups ahead a little space.
Some tubesters in the midst of the 95-degree heat and humidity could not wait and went to launch on the west side of the river both below and above the bridge. People who had lived in Guernsey all their lives were stopping on the highway just to take pictures and commented that they had never seen that many people on that landing before.
There were an estimated 150 people that got into the water within a two-hour period shortly after the Fourth of July parade. One group came from Minnesota, another group was visiting from Boston and there was even one kayaker who was from Spain.
Some said that they heard it word-of-mouth and some said that they had read about it. One gentleman asked if there was a tube rental place in town and if there wasn’t, there should be – complete with shuttles to Register Cliff for pickup.
With the town of Guernsey in a state of shock with BNSF moving out, it looks to be, at least during the warm summer months that the tourist trade just may pick up some of the slack for the economy of the area.