Wagon Days, the centerpiece of the Labor Day weekend celebration in the Wood River Valley, will celebrate 50 years running this year.
Special plans for the upcoming event will include a 50th anniversary poster by Sun Valley and California-based artist Jane Wooster Scott. The Wagon Days Committee will host an artist reception and poster signing with Scott from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. today, July 16 at the Kneeland Gallery in Ketchum. The poster will be available to purchase and can be signed for $30. After the event, signed posters will be available for purchase at $75 each. Scott is a well-known artist who has reached audiences around the world with her colorful works. She is in the Guinness Book of Records as the most reproduced artist in America, surpassing even Pablo Picasso.
For Wagon Days there will also be a reunion of previous Grand Marshals, and the arrival of the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdale Hitch.
"Last year we faced one of the most serious threats to our small community with the Castle Rock fire," Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall said. "The economic impact to our area was profound, and the cancellation of the Wagon Days celebrations made us realize just how valuable this event is to the community. With an estimated attendance of 18,000 people, there is no doubt that Wagon Days is one of the most important tourism venues of the year. We are thrilled to be able to bounce back from last year, with two years' of built-up anticipation, with a spectacular 50th Anniversary Wagon Days celebration."
"She (Jane Wooster Scott) knows this event and the artwork shows it," Wagon Days coordinator Heather LaMonica-Deckard of Sun Valley Events said. "The characters in the painting are actual parade participants, including (Sun Valley Co. owners) Earl and Carol Holding depicted riding in a coach, as well as (Ketchum resident) Jim Hitson dressed in his usual mountain man attire."
The Grand Marshals of all previous Wagon Days have been invited to ride in the parade this year, and a special reunion reception will be held on Friday, Aug. 29 at Dollar Lodge. The event will feature photos, histories, and presentations in honor Grand Marshals, with special recognition of Glenn Janss, the 2007 Wagon Days Parade Grand Marshal.
For its 50th year the Wagon Days parade will have about 100-museum quality wagons, hitches, buggies, carriages, stages, and carts as well as the renowned Budweiser Clydesdale Hitch. The Bud Clydesdales are themselves celebrating 75 years in action.
Along with the parade are many other events that will take place over Labor Day weekend, including the Silver Car Auction, Sun Valley Shakespeare Festival, antiques fairs and the Great Wagon Days Duck Race.