About the Award
Created in 1998 to promote the connection between the Tribune Eagle, community involvement and Cheyenne’s largest event, the award honors individuals who have volunteered their time and efforts to make Cheyenne a better place to live. It has been given to residents known for their volunteer work in areas as diverse as Future Farmers of America, the Red Cross, STRIDE Learning Center and, of course, Cheyenne Frontier Days.
The award draws its inspiration from Col. E.A. Slack, owner, publisher and editor of the Cheyenne Daily Sun-Leader, an early predecessor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. After a traveling railroad agent suggested the creation of a local festival to help drive passenger traffic, Slack used his influence to build support for such an event and even suggested the name “Frontier Day” in one of his editorials. Following news stories and editorials in Slack’s newspaper, other community leaders jumped on the bandwagon and produced the first Frontier Day on September 23, 1897. What is now the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration is made possible only by the work of more than 2,000 volunteers.
A life-size bronze statue of Slack — appropriately, reading a newspaper — stands at the entrance to the Frontier Days headquarters to honor that volunteer spirit. The statue, created by Cheyenne artist Rich Haines, was commissioned by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in 1997, the 100th anniversary of the first Frontier Day rodeo. On the front cover of the newspaper is a representation of the first Frontier Day edition of the Sun-Leader in 1897; on the inside cover is a depiction of the Tribune Eagle and the presentation of the first Community Spirit Award in 1998. The lamppost represents community spirit shining down on Col. Slack and people like our award recipient who play an active role in our community. The street signs of Ferguson and 16th mark the site of the Tivoli Building where the Frontier Day planning committee originally met.
For centuries, newspapers have been a moving force in their communities, serving not only to relay information and stimulate conversation, but also to rally citizens to action. By sponsoring the Community Spirit Award, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle seeks to recognize and encourage involvement in community activities. All of our recipients have shared a strong commitment to community service that make them as worthy of recognition as the man who inspired the award.
“(I am) honored,” said one recipient, “to be mentioned in the same sentence as Col. Slack.”
Nominations for the Community Spirit Award may be submitted by anyone. After nominations are reviewed by a committee of Cheyenne civic leaders, winners are chosen by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Executive Committee and honored in a public ceremony held in late September.
We hope the award will serve as a reminder that even one person’s vision, commitment and drive can bring about great things in our community.