Wagon Days is not going to be the same old, same old next year.
On Monday, Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall and the City Council discussed ways to “spice up” the annual Labor Day event with Wagon Days coordinator Heather LaMonica Deckard.
The Idaho Mountain Express conducted an unscientific, online poll last week to determine whether its readers felt the event was getting stagnant. Of the 247 votes cast, 63 percent agreed that the event could use some new life.
“I remember when I was younger that there were more marching bands,” Councilwoman Nina Jonas said Monday.
Deckard said the reduction in the number of bands marching in the parade has been an ongoing issue. She said many of the bands that could play hail from too far away.
“The cost was too much for us to pay to bus bands from Jerome and Meridian,” she said.
Councilman Jim Slanetz focused on revamping the shootout, a reenactment of a Western gunfight that has been a part of Wagon Days for decades.
“I saw [the shootout] this year and it seems like it could use a change,” he said.
Hall agreed that the performance seems to be going stale.
“That kind of skit might not be appropriate anymore,” he said. “It seems it needs to be updated a bit. Maybe there’s a way to work with the performing arts specialists in town to rework it.”
In 1999, the shootout was almost pulled from the event entirely. At the time, many residents argued that it was too violent. The City Council at the time put the shootout issue on the ballot, but the public voted to keep the shootout.
On Monday, there was no discussion as to whether the shootout should be stricken from the event. It was only suggested that the performance be reinvented.
“[The performers] are passionate about what they do and they take it seriously, but maybe there’s a way to spice it up a bit,” Hall said.
Deckard said that just before this year’s parade, Ketchum resident Dave Baravetto had suggested having an old-fashioned barn dance by the Ore Wagon Museum.
“We really liked that idea,” Deckard said. “We’ve asked [Dave] to be on the Wagon Days Committee this year to help us plan [the dance] and he’s accepted.”
Deckard also said the committee would like to add more bleachers so the city could sell more bleacher seating, which was very popular this year.
In an interview, Deckard said the Wagon Days Committee has many ideas for next year’s celebration.
“Every year we look to make the event better,” she said. “Next year will be the 55th annual Wagon Days. [The committee’s] got some great things planned just for that. We’ve got a lot of good stuff on the horizon.”
Hall expressed his thanks to Deckard and instructed her to work with whomever she needs to to incorporate some of the suggested changes into next year’s event.
Hall told Deckard that the Lewis coach—a wagon in which Ketchum’s elected officials ride during the parade—is due for maintenance.
“The front right wheel needs repair,” he said. “Maybe that’s how you’ll spice things up, by just dragging your elected officials down the road!”
Council President Baird Gourlay responded with some humor of his own.
“We often operate on three wheels,” he said.
Deckard said she is glad Hall and the council members were not hesitant to mix things up a bit next year.
“It’s nice to have your support to try to move forward with some of these changes,” she said.
Brennan Rego: email@example.com