Friday, August 30, 2013

Wagon Days: The show must go on

Weekend events celebrate Ketchum?s ore-mining history

Express file photo The Big Hitch, a train of authentic wooden ore wagons from Ketchum?s mining heyday, makes its way down the Wagon Days parade route in Ketchum.

    Every Labor Day weekend, the cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley host the historic Wagon Days celebration, a holiday weekend packed with a variety of activities, many of which celebrate the Wood River Valley’s rich mining history.
    This year, whether the celebration would happen was temporarily in question because of the looming threat of the Beaver Creek Fire, which has burned more than 110,000 acres of brush and forest west of the Wood River Valley. After it was started by lightning on Aug. 7, the fire escalated quickly and forced evacuations throughout the valley.
    But as nearly 2,000 firefighters started to tame the blaze, Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall announced on Aug. 20 that Wagon Days would continue as planned. The show would go on, and the recovery process would begin.
    As it is every year, the Big Hitch Parade will be the highlight of the celebration. It has been recognized as the largest non-motorized parade in the Northwest, displaying dozens of museum-quality buggies, carriages, tacks, carts, and wagons of every variety. The Wagon Days Big Hitch, historic wagons used to haul ore from rural mines to processing centers, is powered by an authentic 20-draft-mule jerkline. Adding spice to the parade is a lively assortment of authentically costumed individuals and numerous breeds of horses, from Arabs to Morgans to Pasos. It also features professional and scholastic marching bands from around the state and the Intermountain West.
    But there’s more. In these pages, you’ll find your pass to a long list of activities this weekend, from the Great Wagon Days Duck Race—a fun, charitable benefit—to new events planned to spice things up, including a beard and mustache contest.
    Wagons ho! And thanks to the brave firefighters who helped make Wagon Days possible this year!

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