(Riverton, Wyo.) – Every summer American Legion Baseball Post No. 19 of Riverton hosts a two-day tournament. Not only does it bring dozens of players and umpires to town, about 150 friends and family members that follow the teams come, too.
They stay in Riverton hotels, eat at Riverton restaurants and shop at Riverton stores. They pay the Fremont County Lodging Tax, which lured them to come to Riverton in the first place and will be used for events that will bring more people back to town in the future.
In fiscal year 2012-2013 Fremont County collected $629,364 from the lodging tax and gave 25 percent of that money back to the towns- Dubois, Lander, Riverton, Shoshoni and Hudson- within the county to use for their own tourism development. Tourism Asset Development, or TAD, funds are often used for promoting local events. In Riverton it goes to organizations like Paws for Life Animal League, the Wyoming State Mineral and Gem Society, Fremont County 4-H, Go Fremont County and more.
“In reality the Lodging Tax is a tax we don’t pay locally, but we benefit from it locally,” said Jim Davis, executive director of Riverton’s Chamber of Commerce.
Those local benefits include events that draw visitors- and residents- each year such as the 1838 Mountain Man Rendezvous, the Wild West Winter Carnival and high school athletic events.
Money also goes to clinics like the Walt Woodard Team roping clinic, or the Dena Kirkpatrick barrel racing clinic, as well the Wind River Heritage Center.
The chamber allocated money ranging from $700 to $18,000 for a total of about $75,000, last year to help promote and host some of Riverton’s beloved events from high school swim meets to car shows.
In the last fiscal year, 23 organizations received money and some of those, like School District No. 25, which used money for advertising tournaments, put on numerous events.
“The money helps those events happen, and keeps them in Riverton,” Davis said.
In the case of the baseball tournaments, it helps pay umpires- crucial to hosting tournaments, said Cody Beers, with the legion team.
They, along with the fans, coaches and players, stay in Riverton and then often come back after learning about the casinos, nearby mountains and fishing.
“We have a lot of things people want to come back and see,” Beers said. “You get ‘em here, you entertain ‘em and you leave ‘em with a memory they want to duplicate.”
Beers knows the benefits go far beyond the events for which he’s involved.
“The Lodging Tax money has been instrumental in promoting all kinds of youth-based activities in Riverton that bring hundreds and hundreds of people to Riverton all year,” Cody said.
And that brings millions of dollars to Fremont County. In 2012 tourists spent $139.6 million in the county.
Those who come to Riverton events also sometimes stay. The many family-friendly events Riverton hosts each year showcases the community to potential college students who might want to come back for school or even settle permanently, Beers said.
Either way, it’s great for the community.