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Pine Bluffs – For cousins and co-owners of Wyoming Malting Company Chad Brown and Gene Purdy, the idea for the company’s creation began approximately five years ago.

“I was brewing beer in Las Vegas, Nev., and Gene came out to visit me,” says Brown. “He asked me if I would work on the farm with him and figure out a value-added product for the farm.”

The company officially completed construction and hosted an open house of their facility on March 17.

“Construction started Sept. 1. They said it would take six months, and it took six months and two weeks,” Brown continues. “The construction process itself was just amazing.”

Malting

Brown explains that the facility for Wyoming Malting Company is 22,500 square feet.

“It has approximately 17,500 square feet of manufacturing or warehouse space and a couple thousand feet of grain cleaning space. Then it’s got about 2,000 square feet of retail and office space,” he says.

Now that the facility has been built, the company is working to install malting equipment.

“We’re installing duct work and the malting drums themselves. We’re waiting on the computer controls to run everything,” comments Brown. “That should be here next week, and it’ll take a couple weeks for installation.”

Brown continues, “If all goes well, we could have a batch of malt in about a month.”

Realistically, Wyoming Malting Company is expecting to officially open at the beginning of May.

Distillery

In addition to the malting side of the company, Brown explains that Wyoming Malting Company is also working on a small distillery.

“The other part of the business is we’re going to have a small on-site distillery, as well. That is a few months out from being in operation, though,” he says, noting that the malting side of the business is the first priority.

According to Brown, the distillery is another opportunity to add value to locally grown crops.

“That goes back to the value-added idea, as well, because this area can not only grow barley, but we also raise  wheat, corn and millet,” continues Brown. “All of those raw cereal grains can be used to make spirits, such as vodka, whiskey and gin.”

Community

“The two main things we can bring to the town are jobs on the actual malting facility  side and through farming,” explains Brown.

As part of their business plan, Wyoming Malting Company plans to add jobs in their local community of Pine Bluffs within the facility.

Their company also plans to start contracting with other local farmers to grow barley.

“With current commodity prices, any opportunity for a farmer to grow something else that is worth more than wheat and corn is selling for is a good thing,” says Brown.

After the company first opens in May, he notes that the number of employees will only be around three, but that the number is expected to dramatically increase as the company grows.

“When we open in May, it’s going to be pretty small, probably about three people,” he comments. “Once we figure out our production and learn more about it, we hope to be up to about five to seven people.”

Brown continues, “Then, in our goal in five years is to have 15 people on site.”

Looking ahead

Keeping an eye toward future growth has been an important priority for Wyoming Malting Company as they’ve built their facility.

“The facility was built with growth in mind, so we have three malting drums now, which will produce about nine tons of malt a week,” explains Brown. “We can add six more malting drums without any more construction to the building.”

He explains that the company’s goal is to triple in size within five to 10  years, which will increase the number of jobs they have available to community members.

“That would add more operations-type jobs. It would require more farmers to grow for us. The building really is built for growth, which we’re excited about,” says Brown.

Similarly, the distilling side of the company is built, so we will be able to expand.

“That side of the business can triple,  as well, without adding more building,” Brown concludes.

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

When Barb Freeman goes to a trade show, she arrives with a carload of horses – stuffed ones that is. Her trade show displays are filled with large and small horses with every type of outfit she can make. Some are designed for cowboys and cowgirls, while other horses sport fun, vibrant dresses. 

At Horses Galore and More, Freeman has a horse that will appeal to everyone.

Starting out

Freeman’s first horse doll took shape 25 years ago as her small daughters sat under her sewing table and played. Sewing has always appealed to Freeman, who started making items when she was just 12.

“I started out making gifts for my family,” she says. “Then, friends would ask me to make something for them. It blossomed from there.”

Over the years, sewing was a good fit for the military wife, whose husband was gone for periods of time.

“I work full-time now, so making the horses is good therapy for me. My husband has passed away, so it gives me something to look forward to in the evenings,” she says.

Personalizing the pattern

Freeman uses a McCall’s pattern she purchased 28 years ago to make the horse dolls.

“I have tweaked the pattern and changed it to create different sizes,” she explains. “I have also changed the hair on the horses and the dress styles. I recycle old blue jeans to make the boys’ outfits and use several different types of fabrics for the girls’. There are no two alike.”

One horse takes her about four hours to make from start to finish.

Freeman is also licensed to use the Wyoming bucking horse logo on the outfits of her horses, and she has found those to be her best sellers.

“I can hardly keep those in stock,” she says.

It is also her favorite doll to make.

Although it’s more difficult to sew, Freeman uses leather-type and vinyl-feel fabrics for some of the clothing for the horses.

“I like using different fabrics because it differentiates them from each other,” she says. “I like to come up with new ideas and different yarns for the mane and tail to make them look different.”

Although many of the horses have a western theme, some are made from fun, little-girl type fabrics for children and adults who aren’t into the western way of life.

Wyoming ag business

Horses are big business in Wyoming, and Freeman feels her horses are an ideal item for her to make and sell. She sells the horse dolls through word-of-mouth, rodeos, horse events and trade shows.

She also attends a few craft fairs in Douglas and Casper. Depending upon which craft shows she plans to attend, Freeman makes other animal dolls to sell, like moose and lambs.

The crafter also donates horses to each trade show she attends and to several charities and youth groups. Amongst those are the College National Rodeo Finals, the Intercollegiate National Rodeo Fund for injured rodeo athletes, Toys for Tots and Make-A-Wish.

Global reach

Because of the military, Freeman says she has horses all over the world.

“We lived in Germany for awhile,” she explains. “We also lived in Kansas and Texas. Because we moved around a lot, I have horses everywhere.”

She also sold several horses and lambs during the Sheep Dog Trials in Kaycee.

“The judges were from New Zealand, and their wives were buying them to send back home,” she says.

The small business has been a great supplement to her income, in addition to being something she enjoys.

“It gives me something to do in the evenings,” she says. “It is also fun because I never know how they are going to look when they are done.”

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cheyenne – In its 33rd year, the Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) Western Art Show and Sale has once again held another event to raise funds for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. 

“We started the art show in 1981 as a fundraiser for the museum,” says April Jones, a member of the art show committee. “There were six people who started the committee, and we didn’t think we’d make any money that year.”

After a $13 profit in their first year, Jones notes, “It just took off.”

In their first 32 years, the Western Art Show and Sale has raised over $2 million for the CFD Old West Museum.

Varied artists

A wide selection of artists are hand-picked to showcase their work at the event.

“Converging on the CFD Old West Museum like cowboys to the rodeo arena, the artists celebrate the West’s frontier past, its culture, its magnificent scenery and the western way of life through their impressive works of art,” reads the museum’s website.

Jones works specifically with the artists for the event and says, “We travel a lot in selecting our artists.”

For the first show, the committee contacted the Cowboy Artists of America organization and visited many shows to talk to western artists.

“We knew a lot of the artists personally,” says Jones of committee members, “and that group helped to get us started.”

Their first show featured work from 30 artists. The 2013 show incorporates work from nearly 60 artists, though Jones notes that as many as 67 artists have been invited to participate in the event.

“Growing in popularity every year, the CFD Western Art Show and Sale attracts artists from Nebraska to California and Montana to Arizona who all share the same passion – a love for the great American West and its heritage,” says the CFD Old West Museum website.

Unusual format

Rather than a typical art auction, the CFD Western Art Show and Sale aims to raise funds without undervaluing the artwork. 

Prices are listed on each piece, and anyone interested in purchasing the work puts their name in a bucket to be drawn.

“We draw for our winners. The first name drawn has first choice of whether they want the piece or not. They have 15 minutes to decide whether they want it,” explains Jones. “If the first turns it down or doesn’t respond in the 15 minutes, it goes to the second name drawn.”

This year

The CFD Western Art Show and Sale was held on July 18 this year and boasted 272 pieces of artwork for sale. 

“We have everything from bronze sculptures, oil paintings, acrylic paintings, watercolors, alabaster, Navajo weavings and wood carvings,” Jones notes. “We have good variety in our pieces.”

Twelve artists in the 2013 show call Wyoming their home, including Steven Devenyns of Cody, D. Michael Thomas of Buffalo, Bruce Graham of Buffalo, Curt Theobald of Pine Bluffs, Laurie Lee of Powell, Denney NeVille of Byron, Mike Beeman of Cheyenne, Jerry Palen of Saratoga, Robin Laws of Cheyenne, Carol Swinney of Casper, Gale Jones Sundell of Cheyenne and Ann Hanson of Shell.

View pieces

Though the art will be sold on July 18, all sold and unsold pieces remain on display throughout the entirety of CFD.

“The Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show and Sale is one of the most respected and prestigious western art exhibitions in the Rocky Mountain Region,” said Jim Hearne, chairman of the Western Art Show and Sale Committee. “There isn’t a better place to see how the everyday life of the cowboy, the lives of Native Americans and the great American West and its wildlife make an impression on these outstanding artists.” 

Hearne notes that visiting CFD isn’t complete without visiting the museum to experience both the exhibits and works of art on display.

On top of producing the CFD Western Art Show and Sale, the committee also produces a commemorative poster and limited edition print from the previous year’s show. Only 500 copies of the print are produced. 

This year’s limited edition print is “High Country Oasis” by Powell artist Laurie Lee. The commemorative poster features Steven Lang’s “Out of the Gate.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Casper – It all starts with some microscopic beads, heavy-duty thread, a loom and an idea. Several days later, it is a work of art. For Kailey Simms, it is relaxing to create unique beadwork gifts for clients, family and friends.

Like most young women, Simms’ interest in beadwork stemmed from a desire for a one-of-a-kind item that was too expensive for her to buy.

“It all started because I really wanted a beaded belt,” Simms says of her venture into beadwork three years ago.

“I loved how those belts look. I thought they were just gorgeous, but I didn’t want to spend $300 to $500 to get one,” she says.

Starting out

A trip to Hobby Lobby produced some beads and a loom, and she went home and taught herself the craft.

“I never took any formal training, it was just mostly a lot of trial and error. When I would get stuck, I would look things up on the internet and YouTube until I figured it out on my own,” she explained.

Simms started out big.

“My first project was that belt I wanted so much,” she says. “When I finished it, the beads were a little bit wobbly and it wasn’t perfect, but it saved me a lot of money, and I’m so proud of it.”

In the last three years, she has made phenomenal progress with her work. Now she makes bracelets, hatbands, headbands and belts for clients, family and friends. She can also make horse tack, like beaded bridles and headstalls.

Starting a business

To market her designs, Simms started a small company, Double Twisted K Beadwork, which can be found on Facebook.

“Most of my work comes from word-of-mouth or from my Facebook page. I don’t market it anyplace, but I am in the process of building a website,” she says.

Simms develops her intriguing designs from things she sees that inspire her.

“Some of my best ideas came from my geometry class,” she recalls. “I like how the shapes and patterns all work together.”

She also has a beading program on her computer to help finalize her designs, and determine which colors look best together.

Custom work

Most of the beadwork is custom, so Simms’ customers also give her some input into what they would like.

“Because it is expensive, customers usually want me to make something unique and something that is designed just for them,” she says. “As I make these items, I really enjoy seeing my clients’ personalities come out in the patterns.”

Although she hasn’t been commissioned for a really unique item, Simms has made some items with very unique patterns.

“I had a friend who requested a belt in eight different colors of beads,” she recalled. “I thought it looked a little wild, but it had an intricate design. It was actually pretty neat when I finished it.”

Beading projects

These belts can take anywhere from three days to a week to finish, depending on how complex the pattern is.

“Beadwork is very time consuming and tedious, and lots of people ask me how I can stand to do it, but I have found that I really enjoy it,” she comments.

Simms works with a local leather worker, Lee of 37 Custom Leather in Casper, who does the tooling and carving on the belts after she finishes the beadwork.

“The belts look really nice when he is done,” she says.

A look to the future

While she’s continually working on new projects, Simms is also finishing up an education degree through Western Governor’s University and substitute teaching full-time. Eventually, she hopes to become an elementary school teacher.

Because of her love for children, Simms readily contributes to children’s causes. Two of her more recent projects were belts for Fight Like a Kid, and the Make a Wish Foundation.

“Two amazing kids who are fighting cancer had a rodeo put on for them, and I was asked to make two very special belts for these children,” she says. “The best part is that I was able to do this at no cost. It is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart, and I was very honored to be asked to do it.”

Working together

Kailey Simms of Double Twisted K Beadwork recently wed Cody Simms, who is also a craftsman.

Cody enjoys welding and makes horseshoe tables in his spare time. These tables are a unique design that he would construct alongside his grandfather, Melvin Simms.

“His grandfather taught him to weld, and they would build these tables together. It is a project that is near and dear to his heart,” Kailey said.

Cody also makes different types of frames from barn wood. In their own home, he made a custom frame around their television. The frames can also be used for mirrors and pictures.

With the unique talents of this couple, they hope to one day open a small store in Casper, where they make their home.

“It is a dream of ours to open a store where we can sell the things we make,” Kailey says.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Kirby – Whiskey fans travelled in hoards to attend the launch event for Wyoming Whiskey on Dec. 1, from as far away as Australia.
    “It has been a wild and wonderful few days for Wyoming Whiskey,” said the company in a press release. “From the response of Wyoming’s retailers to our first offering, to the 3,000-plus folks who came to Kirby to the kind words we received from every corner of the state.”
Launch event
    With owners Brad and Kate Mead, Master Distiller Steve Nally, his wife and Director of Tourism and Public Relations Donna Nally, founder and Chief Operating Officer David DeFazio and Governor Matt Mead present at the event, along with numerous other dignitaries, the excited crowd shared in Wyoming Whiskey’s groundbreaking day.
    “There is one question I want to answer now that I have been asked more times than I care to count,” commented DeFazio. “Number one – it’s good, and number two – it’s ready.”
    Governor Mead agreed, saying, “I work very hard in the office trying to figure out policy position on this or that, and I travel across Wyoming. More often than not, the first question people asked me wasn’t, ‘What are you doing on healthcare?’ it was, ‘When is the whiskey going to be done?’”
    Mead offered congratulations to Brad and Kate, also noting that the fine product represents Wyoming.
    “What makes it special in my mind is that this is truly a Wyoming story,” he explained. “It takes guts to say we are going to start a product that has never been made, we are going to do it in the town of Kirby, and we are going to persevere.”
    Mead continued, “Brad, Kate and David, you’ve had guts, and guts goes into every bottle of Wyoming Whiskey. This has been an amazing team story.”
Making whiskey
    When they decided to distill bourbon whiskey in Wyoming, Brad notes that they had two requirements in mind –  it had to be premium product, and it had to be a Wyoming product.
    They invited Bourbon Hall of Famer Steve Nally from Kentucky as master distiller for the project, and Brad mentioned, “We got one of the very best.”
    “It was important to us that, at the end of the day, this be considered Wyoming’s Whiskey,” he said.
    Kate added, “Steve and Donna have helped us fulfill our dream of creating a really great whiskey.”
    “When David called and asked if we were interested in coming to Wyoming to make bourbon, I though he was pulling a prank,” said Donna. “We are very honored to be here today.”
    “This all came about because two people had a vision, and they said we can do something that has never been done here before,” Steve commented. “They are modern pioneers.”
    Steve added that, through the process, support from Wyoming’s citizen, towns and government has been overwhelming.
    Donna continued, noting that while her accent gives away that she is a Kentuckian, “Today, Steve and I both feel that we are definitely Wyomingites. We could not have done what we are doing in making the best bourbon in the world without the support of all of you folks from Wyoming.”
    “We are putting out an excellent product,” said Steve. “Here’s to Wyoming.”
Reviews
    One group of tasters, Doug Weatherly and Jacque Hanson from Lincoln, Neb., and Mike and Lenore Weatherley of North Platte, Neb. travelled all night to attend the event.
    “I became a whiskey baron two years ago when I found out they were doing this,” commented Doug at the event. “I drink Jack Daniels, and I wanted a whiskey that was closer to me.”
    “I really like it,” he added of the Wyoming’s first bourbon product.
    While tasters from across Wyoming and surrounding states agreed that Wyoming Whiskey is a top-notch product, Whiskycast reviewer Mark Gillespie attended the launch event and awarded the product a 95.
    “The nose is smooth with notes of fresh baked wheat bread, fresh cut saw dust, orange peel and subtle touches of black cherry and vanilla,” Gillespie noted. “The taste is mouth filling and smooth. There’s a mild cinnamon note with no bite and notes of dried orange peel and honey.”
    Gillespie continued. “The finish is long, smooth and dry with mild orange peel, vanilla and oak sawdust.”
    Maybe the most notable comments by Gillespie came when he said, “It is one of the best bourbons I’ve ever tasted, and I’m scoring Wyoming Whiskey a 95.”
    While Wyoming Whiskey is largely sold out across the state, and the next batch due to be bottled “when it’s ready,” according to Steve, Wyoming will continue to anticipate more of its high-quality bourbon product.
    For more information, visit wyomingwhiskey.com. Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..