GOSHEN COUNTY – The schedule is official – there’s going to be a lot going on in Goshen County around the Great American Eclipse weekend later this month.
That was the word Wednesday at another in a series of community informational gathers, this one in the gymnasium at the Lincoln Center complex in Torrington.
“The message tonight and the message at Fort Laramie National Historic Site is safety, safety, safety,” said Eric Valencia, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services for the National Park Service site. “We want to create a safe environment for people to come in and view this once-in-a-lifetime event.”
The weekend at the Fort kicks off on Aug. 18 with a concert provided by the Torrington Fiddlers at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 19 will dawn on a day filled with activities, beginning with a military flag raising at 9 a.m., followed by historic talks and demonstrations throughout the day, including musket firings, Native American kids games and a presentation on the women who called frontier military posts home.
The day wraps up with a special program on the eclipse, scheduled for 5 p.m., followed by a program, titled “Music of the Western Trails, by Hank Cramer at 7 p.m.
The Aug. 20 schedule mirrors the previous days evens, with the addition of a second music program by Cramer at 2:30 p.m.
On eclipse day, Aug. 21, freelance science writer and eclipse expert Dr. Korey Haynes will be on hand at the Fort to talk about what’s happening in space as the daytime sky darkens toward totality, including information on what scientists can learn from eclipses and what to look for.
A George Mason University graduate, Haynes formerly worked at the Smithsonian Institution Observatory in Washington, D.C., before joining the staff of Astronomy Magazine in 2014. She currently is currently a freelance science writer and outreach specialist, based in Saint Paul, Minn.
Eclipse weekend will also offer opportunities to local groups, individuals and businesses. And there are a few regulations that will apply, particularly to those wanting to sell memorabilia
“People making any types of sales have to pay taxes,” said Crissy Lopez, field representative for the Wyoming Department of Revenue, based in Torrington. State law requires taxes be collected on “sales of personal, tangible property.”
For people offering camping for the possible thousands of visitors expected in Goshen County, they need to also be aware of the county’s Lodging Tax and the state sales tax requirement, Lopez said. And anyone interested in sales will need to acquire a temporary vendor permit from the state, she said.
Non-profit entities are exempt from having to pay taxes, but will still need the permit, Lopez said. Questions can be directed to Lopez at (307) 532-5566 or via email to [email protected]
Food vendors will face their own set of regulations, said Eric Avila, Goshen County Health Inspector for the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, based in Lingle. Anyone selling food will need to have a hand washing station on site and be sure their food or ingredients come from approved sources, he said.
Opening a food stand for the eclipse could be a profitable enterprise, Avila said.
“I haven’t received a lot of calls about temporary vendor permits,” he said. “If you’re thinking about it, go for it.
“There’s going to be a need for it,” Avila said. “Even if you’re selling something as simple as water.”
Avila can be contacted at (307) 837-2746 or via email [email protected] for further inquiries into the permitting process.
Eastern Wyoming has the historical advantage of cloudless skies on Aug. 21, said Roger Spears, science coordinator for Goshen County School District No. 1 and advisor to the Goshen County Eclipse Committee. That makes for prime viewing, particularly with the northern portions of the county in the direct line of totality, the area where the outline of the moon will completely cover the sun as seen from Earth.
“The best place to see the eclipse is a place where the sky is clear,” Spears said. “This area has a 90 percent chance of clear skies, though lately we’ve had a lot of clouds.”
Despite history, there is a chance viewing could be obscured or blocked by clouds, driven by monsoon weather patterns that move through the area typically in late August coming early, he said.
“We hope it’s not cloudy that day, but it’s a distinct possibility,” Spears said. “Monsoons are pumping weather this way and we hope it shifts further south between now and the end of next week.”