Special Issues » Wood River Valley Summer Guide

Festivals Worth the Trip

Weekend reasons to escape to the mountains

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Need an excuse for a weekend getaway? The Wood River Valley hosts a rich series of festivals throughout the summer and fall that can provide the perfect reason to head to the mountains.

Fourth of July

Saturday, July 2-Monday, July 4

The holiday weekend is filled with events from one end of the valley to the other. Hailey is hosting a three-day antique show, while Alison Krauss and Union Station will be rockin' in Ketchum. But the real Americana will be happening at the Hailey Days of the Old West celebration. The annual event is as much a celebration of Western small town culture as Independence Day and includes three nights of rodeo. The old-fashioned celebration continues Monday, July 4, with a children's carnival and a parade down Main Street followed by a criterion bike race. The day finishes with a concert by the Army Band in Fox Acres Park and the ever-important fireworks display beginning at dusk. For more information, visit haileyidaho.com or call 208-788-3484.

Northern Rockies Folk Festival

Friday, Aug. 5-Saturday, Aug. 6

For the last 34 years, Hailey has been a destination for folk music fans. This year's lineup includes Quailfish, Rose's Pawn Shop, James McMurtry, Sloans, Justin Wells, Carly Gibson, Intersection, Slow Children Playing, Up A Creek, Bill Coffey and The Gourds. Music lovers can plop themselves on a blanket in Hop Porter Park along the Big Wood River all weekend for $32. In addition to the music, downtown Hailey will host a two-day craft festival on Saturday, Aug. 6-Sunday, Aug. 7. For more information, visit northernrockiesfolkfestival.com.

Wagon Days

Friday, Sept. 2-Monday, Sept. 5

Labor Day weekend in Ketchum means the return of the granddaddy of all area festivals: the 54th annual Wagon Days. The three-day event is a celebration of the area's mining past, and visitors can spend the weekend checking out gallery walks, a classic car auction, an Old Western shootout, antique fairs and star-studded ice shows. But the highlight is the Big Hitch parade, featuring museum-quality buggies and wagons. Anchoring the parade is the Big Hitch--six 15-foot-tall Lewis Ore Wagons pulled by a 20-mule jerkline. Crowds line up to see the team make the 90-degree turn at Main Street and Sun Valley Road, a maneuver that requires the muleskinner to move half the mules to one side of the hitch. Of course, watching 24,000 pounds of antique wagons heading back down Saddle Butte is exciting in its own right. For more information, visit wagondays.com.

Sun Valley Harvest Festival

Friday, Sept. 23-Sunday, Sept. 25

What was once the Sun Valley Food and Wine Festival is now all about the fall harvest. The event focuses on regional foods with cooking demos, beer and wine tastings, a restaurant walk, chefs' dinners, a martini and caviar party and a River Guide Culinary Competition, showing off Dutch oven skills. The weekend's finale will be the Grand Tasting, with proceeds going to the Make A Wish Foundation. Check sunvalleyharvestfestival.com for a full schedule.

Trailing of the Sheep

Friday, Oct. 7-Sunday, Oct. 9

Sheep once ruled the Wood River Valley, and for a brief period each fall, they do again. The three-day festival is all about living history. The 15th annual event will include music, wool spinning and sheep dog demonstrations, story telling, sheep-oriented crafts and some lessons on cooking with lamb (don't tell the sheep). The event's highlight is on Sunday, when masses of sheep making their way from summer to winter pastures are the centerpiece of a parade. For more information, check out trailingofthesheep.org.

Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree

Wednesday, Oct. 12-Sunday, Oct. 16

The festival season in Sun Valley comes to a conclusion with a celebration of all things jazz. For five days, more than 40 groups perform every incarnation of jazz across the town, playing more than 300 shows in all. No matter the time of day, jazz can be heard, drawing crowds from across the country. The earlier you buy your passes for this one, the cheaper they are, but they top out at $144 for a five-day pass. For info, check out sunvalleyjazz.com.

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