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For the week of September 6 through 12, 2000

Weather wets Wagon Days

Express Staff Writers

Pulled by a team of Percheron horses, the Big Hitch ore wagons turn the corner onto Main Street in Ketchum. Express photo by Willy Cook.

The rain and the cold succeeded in reducing the number of spectators and entries for Saturday’s Wagon Days Parade in Ketchum, but it’s unclear what the economic impact the weather had on the entire three-day celebration.

The Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber of Commerce reduced its spectator and parade entries estimate on Tuesday from what it reported in a press release before the parade on Saturday.

The press release reported there would be almost 100 parade entries, five high school marching bands, 1,000 participants, and an estimated 15,000 spectators.

Yesterday, event coordinator Wendy Jacquet revised these figures to 75 parade entries, four high school marching bands, 900 participants, and 7,000 spectators.

There were six outright parade contestant cancellations; the other 15 no-shows opted not to participate the morning of the parade.

Asked about what she thought the economic impact the weather had on the celebration, Jacquet said that the chamber didn’t do a study of how local businesses do over the Wagon Days weekend. She added that those numbers could not be pulled out of local option tax figures because they are tallied monthly and not weekly.

But she did say the impact was "not nearly as bad as people thought it might be. People were going inside from out of the rain and spending money."

The Ketchum Ranger District office reported that .35 inches of rain fell on Ketchum on Friday, and another 1.18 inches fell over Saturday and Sunday.

Several lodging managers said the weather had both negative and positive effects on their occupancies.

Beverly Barney, manager of Bald Mountain Lodge, said she had guests leaving early, but that the vacancies were quickly snatched up by campers coming in out of the weather. She said the lodge was always full over the Wagon Days weekend.

Stuart Campbell, manager of the Clarion Inn, said it was business as usual for a Wagon Days weekend.

"Some people were disgruntled by the weather," he said, "but we were booked months ahead of time. We did have some cancellations, but they were quickly filled."

The Ketchum Korral Motor Lodge, the Lift Tower Lodge, and the Knob Hill Inn also said they were full for the weekend.

Newly instituted this year was a shuttle bus from River Run’s parking lot to Main Street. Terry Crawford of KART reported that the park-and-ride buses carried 504 people Saturday morning.

Ketchum’s Papoose Club was forced to cancel the remainder of its annual pancake breakfast at Giacobbi Square on Saturday after two hours of attempting to cook in the rain. Fortunately, the cooks had only prepared a small amount of food. The unused food will either be sold back to the purveyors or donated.

Janet Fugate, co-chair of the breakfast event, reported 47 people were fed on Saturday and another 661 on Sunday. Additional donations of close to $700 were made as well by sympathetic folks.

"People felt so sorry for us" Sandra Caulkins, the other co-chair said. "We just won’t be able to give what we’ve given in the past, [in charity donations]."

The Papoose club reported it lost approximately $4,000 to $5,000 dollars in expected sales.

"We need the rain," said Papoose Club president Chris Reinemann. "We just wish it had come on another day."

No everyone was dismayed by the weather.

Dave Gertman, 50, an Idaho Falls engineer, enjoyed a plate of pancakes on Saturday with his three young girls, ages 4, 10 and 12.

"It’s fine," he said of the chilly weather and light snow in the mountains. "This is a family vacation, it’s about being out together and doing things. And it’s a family reunion of 18 people."

Due to the abbreviated pancake breakfast, many people had nowhere to eat. The few restaurants that were open were absolutely full.

Roosevelt Tavern on the strategic parade corner of Main Street and Sun Valley Road reported over an hour wait for a table at 11:30 a.m. when they opened.

Starbucks on Main Street was also slammed with folks trying to find food and shelter from the drizzle. Starbucks was also busy supplying coffee to the drenched parade participants prior to the parade at the muddy staging area on Sun Valley Road.

Keith Perry of Perry’s restaurant, two blocks off Main Street, said his business is typically slow during the parade. This year, he said, he was swamped with people coming in out of the weather.

He added that he closes at 4 p.m. on Saturdays, but every seat in the restaurant was full at 3:45 p.m.

Jack Sibbach, spokesman for the Sun Valley Co., reported that the weekend was "not the best ever" for Sun Valley, but he didn’t yet have a comparison with last year’s sales.

He said sales relating to outdoor activities such as golf and mountain bike rentals were poor, while restaurant, retail and lodging sales were fair.

Sun Valley Co. owner Earl Holding and his wife drove a small carriage in the parade and were greeted by a cheering crowd.

Events that traditionally occur simultaneous to the pancake breakfast, such as the train ride and the petting zoo, had a lot of action, while the new carnival from Nevada, set up at the old Louie’s parking lot, did less well.

According to Jacquet, the employees scheduled to work the carnival canceled at the last minute, leaving the proprietor short-handed.

As for the parade, except for losing 15 participants, it went off without a hitch.

"We have such a wonderful volunteer and chamber staff who rose to another level," Jacquet said. "They found creative ways to come up with solutions.

"I don’t think we could have done better than what we did."


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