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Eclipse Bars

Bartender Jeremy Toribio looks over beer taps in March at Wyoming Ale Works during a soft opening of the new bar and grill in Casper. The city is granting an exception to allow bars and liquor stores to stay open later the night before the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.

Casper is making an exception to its blue laws for bar owners during the eclipse festival in August. Bars and liquor stores in the Oil City are allowed to serve and sell until 2 a.m. on every day but Sunday — when they must close four hours earlier.

But with the total solar eclipse falling on a Monday, liquor dealers in Natrona County are hoping to capitalize on the 35,000 anticipated visitors coming to Casper to view the celestial event.

“We think it’s going to be a really good weekend,” bar owner and dealer representative Matt Galloway told City Council in May.

Galloway requested an extension allowing bars and package liquor stores to serve until 2 a.m. on Monday, August 21. Bars and liquor stores are required to close by 10 p.m. on Sunday nights. Council is allowed to grant four such exemptions per year.

In a letter to city staff, Galloway explained that the exemption would allow liquor dealers to “capitalize on the significant influx of visitors to the community for Eclipse 2017.”

City Council approved the request on Tuesday, allowing dealers to operate from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. on the Sunday during the festival.

The move is the latest in a series of ordinance changes made to accommodate liquor dealers. Council recently expanded the definition of dispensing rooms to match state law that effectively eliminated restrictions on where alcohol can be served in licensed buildings. The body also eliminated the restriction on gambling in bars to allow for off-track horse betting at Galloway’s Irish Pub.

The Wyoming Eclipse Festival is expected to draw about 25,000 overnight visitors and an additional 10,000 on the day of the eclipse, which takes place around 11 a.m. But organizers say that weather and other variables make it hard to precisely estimate how many people will travel to Casper.

A number of bars are hoping to open or complete renovations before the festival. Bars currently under construction include the Wonder Bar on Center Street, Gaslight Social — formerly Roaring 22 — on the corner of Ash Street and Midwest Avenue and the Old Yellowstone Bar and Grill on West Yellowstone Highway.