Eat macaroni and cheese while listening to live music and counting down to the new year just a little early at the inaugural Mac & Cheese Festival and Noon Year’s Celebration in downtown Casper.

Sponsored by the Central Wyoming Counseling Center and managed by the Downtown Development Authority and David Street Station, the free event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at David Street Station and inside the Lyric across the street.

“We were looking to sort of take the reins on a family-friendly celebration,” said Kyle Gamroth, development coordinator at the counseling center. “We wanted it to be family oriented, so we started from the ground up and started talking to the downtown folks several months ago.”

Previously in Casper, a trademarked First Night celebration was put together by Gamroth’s sister-in-law, Heidi Foy, when she worked at the 12-24 Club. When she left that job, the 12-24 Club ended its First Night involvement.

Last year, Mercer Family Resource Center tried a similar event where attendees wandered from place to place, but at night and walking on Dec. 31 proves chancy at best in Casper.

The new celebration features macaroni and cheese sampling from several Casper eateries, including The Branding Iron, which opens Tuesday downtown on Second Street; The Yellowstone Garage; Casper’s Good Cookin; Eggington’s; La Cocina and HQ Southern BBQ. Macaroni and cheese will be served inside the Lyric.

Sampling the comfort food is free. When you choose a favorite, a larger serving is available for $5, with the money going to the restaurant.

Amy Crawford of David Street Station said Hagen in the Grainbox will provide live music, and will be set up in the Lyric now that the forecast is predicting colder than previously expected temperatures.

“We are so excited to be a part of this,” said Glenda Catchpole Thomas, manager of the Lyric. “We will have the macaroni and cheese in here from multiple different restaurants and the band will be inside now too. There will be lots of fun in here. And our toasty clean rest rooms will be available.”

There will be New Year’s themed crafts and games at David Street Station.

“Celebrating the New Year can be difficult for families or for adults who don’t want to drink,” Gamroth said. “By counting down to noon, we’re still giving kids the excitement of a countdown without having to stay up late, and parents can still go out at night if they’d like. And if you want a party without alcohol, this is going to be a fun community event.”

He added he hopes it will become an annual tradition.

Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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