A stiff breeze ruffled feather-festooned caps, kicked up coattails and tipped 10-gallon cowboy hats Saturday at the Laramie Plains Museum.
“What would a party be without that Wyoming wind, right?” Laramie-based musician “Danno from Wyo” asked before serenading attendees with his rendition of Garth Brooks’ “Much Too Young.”
Spread across the Ivinson Mansion lawn, partygoers kept a weary eye on the darkening clouds as they knocked back spirits and browsed the silent auction table.
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Laramie’s founding, most people attended the end-of-summer bash in some form of historical attire.
The men mostly drew inspiration from the Laramie Valley’s rich cowboy culture, sporting wide-brim hats, riding boots and six guns slung in low-hanging holsters. While the women boasted a variety of costumes from the pioneer era to the clapper outfits of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby.”
I didn’t want to seem too out of place with my massive digital camera hanging from my side and toting around an electronic recorder, but the most historical duds in my closet are a 20-year-old pair of work boots.
Writers have been horribly out-of-sorts with the fashion world for centuries, however, so I grabbed a golfing hat I bought some years ago with the intent of picking up the sport (though I never did), pulled on a vest I found at a thrift store and hoped no one would be the wiser.
My plan was blown awry when museum curator Konnie Cronk appeared in an authentic 1920’s newsie outfit, complete with yellowed copies of the Laramie Boomerang and golf knickers. But she gave my cap a nod and applauded my effort, so I think I pulled it off.
Evening at the Ivinson’s is a fundraising soiree honoring the memories of Edward and Jane Ivinson, philanthropists who helped establish Laramie as more than just another hell-on-wheels town.
“They helped make Laramie what it is today,” Laramie Plains Museum Executive Director Mary Mountain said. “We are celebrating that mighty spirit of seeing what needs to be done and doing it.”
Mountain said the night’s proceeds would be used to improve and maintain the museum.
The event kicked off in a party tent erected on the Ivinson lawn and decorated with crystal chandeliers. The tent’s open bar and live music loosened the mood and attendees filled the grassy dance floor until hail started battering the fabric walls and roof.
Wyomingites are sturdy people, and rarely let weather get in the way of a good hoedown. So a brief pause in the rain was used to move the festivities into the newly constructed Alice Hardie Stevens Center, where prime rib, green beans and mashed potatoes were served to warm up the crowd.
“Edward Ivinson was one the area’s earliest bankers, and his family was headed to California for the gold rush,” Mountain explained as dinner came to a close. “They stayed here, because they saw the opportunity to get things done.”
Jane Ivinson helped found Laramie’s first school and Edward Ivinson contributed large sums to building a hospital for Albany County, now known as Ivinson Memorial Hospital.
“Laramie is particularly important in that way,” Mountain said. “Wyoming had the Suffrage Act of 1869, and Laramie resident Louisa Swain became the first woman to vote in a general election in the U.S. Women stepped up, because it was needed. That attitude is what we’re celebrating tonight.”
To learn more about events at the Laramie Plains Museum, visit www.laramiemuseum.org.