The 79-year-old Laramie Jubilee Days is something Miss Laramie Jubilee Days 1951 Shirley Lilley has been involved with since she was a little girl.
“It was an activity we went to as a family,” Lilley said.
Her family didn’t go to many things, but she always looked forward to Jubilee Days, especially the horse races.
“I can remember as a kid, we used to pull our car up right next to the arena,” Lilley said. “They had the track right where the arena is and the track went around the arena park.”
“We would bet on the races with dimes — not old enough to be gambling,” she continued with a laugh.
Remaining a faithful Jubilee Days supporter into her teens, Lilley was chosen as Miss Laramie Jubilee Days lady-in-waiting in 1949. Lilley moved from lady-in-waiting to the official title of Miss Laramie Jubilee Days in 1951.
The horse races Lilley once bet on when she was a child soon became a part of her duties as Miss Jubilee Days, as she “lead the horses in, with the jockeys on them.”
Eventually, the horse races were removed from the schedule of events.
“It was really a sad thing when they took the races out, but it kind of had to do with the bidding and what not, you know, that wasn’t supposed to go on,” she said.
In 1976, Lilley began promoting the Kids Horse Show for Laramie Jubilee Days.
“They had a lot of things for adults with horses, but at that time, they had nothing for the kids,” she said.
Lilley set up the event for children after the Jubilee Days Committee gave its support. Lilley’s concerns that the children needed an event during Jubilee Days proved true when the Kids Horse Show attracted an average of 100 participants in its early years. Because of Lilley’s efforts, the Kids Horse Show remains an opening event for Jubilee Days. Lilley has continually headed up the event since 1976.
Julie Lorenzi, Lilley’s daughter, was the primary leader of the Kids Horse Show in 2019, after having been involved with kids horse events as a little girl.
“The kids started riding at a really early age,” she said.
Growing up on a ranch gave Lilley’s children experience in working with cattle and riding horses from a young age.
Lilley reminisced on an instance when Lorenzi was very young. The two were gathering cattle as a bird landed on Lorenzi’s head. She started crying, startling the cattle. Laughing at the remembrance of it, Lilley said she told her daughter, “No, shut up, shut up, you’re scaring the cows!”
Aside from the Kids Horse Show, Lilley is “usually involved in anything having to do with the queens.” This includes a queens’ luncheon during Jubilee Days in which past queens are invited.
The Miss Laramie Jubilee Days contest Lilley helps with is hosted in late January, so her time spent with Laramie Jubilee Days goes beyond a one-week commitment in July.
Lilley sees the event as important for the Laramie community.
“I don’t know of any other community event in our community that is like Jubilee Days,” she said. “I think it is an event that most of our people enjoy going to, it doesn’t cost an awful lot to go, and it’s a Western event and we are a Western town.”
Lilley said she “likes it all,” and couldn’t pick a single part of Jubilee Days as her favorite. She attends all of it when she is able.
As someone who “grew up” with Laramie Jubilee Days, Lilley has looked forward to it ever since she bet on the horse races as a little girl.