Jackson Hole's Old West Days
The West lives on in Jackson Hole and the annual event that celebrates that spirit is fittingly called Old West Days. A favorite among locals and visitors alike, it is traditionally hosted over Memorial Day weekend.
Travel + Leisure has named Jackson Hole its 2019 No. 1 "Best Places to Travel in May" in large part due to the Old West Days celebration of our Western heritage.
The 40th annual Old West Days will be presented May 19th through May 29th, 2023. The festival features a "Best of the West" parade, the Mountain Man Rendezvous, the beginning of rodeo season, Old West Brew Fest and the launch of stagecoach rides and the infamous Jackson Hole Shootout, among other events. (See the schedule below.)
Jackson Hole Old West Days Schedule of Events
19th-29th: Mountain Man Rendezvous and Traders' Row - 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at the Teton County Fairgrounds. Pre-1840 Mountain Men Celebration complete with a Traders Row, candy cannon, bow and arrow competition, hawk and knife competition and Atlatal competition.
19: TetonPowWow: Free educational presentations around American Indian culture will be offered at the Center for the Arts throughout the day starting at 10:30 a.m. The Native American Showcase at 7 p.m. will preview dance traditions that will be presented on Saturday at the 3rd Annual Teton Powwow at the Snow King Events Center and there is a $10 entry fee for the dance traditions preview.
20: Teton PowWow - At the Center for the Arts. Central Wyoming College’s Tribal Wisdom Society students and Native American Jump Start will collaborate in this full-day celebration of American Indian cultures. Featured are traditional and contemporary dance, arts and crafts booths, and food vendors. Grounds Blessing is at 10 a.m. and grand entry at Noon.
22: Cowboy Church on Town Square. Free country music and Bluegrass concert with dancing in the streets; Noon-4 p.m.
Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum Walking Tours - 10:30 a.m. Meet at the History Museum just off Town Square for this fun and educational one-hour tour of historic downtown Jackson on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Cost: $10 adults; $6 adults over age 60, students, retired military; free ages 5 and under - jacksonholehistory.org
27: Annual Best of the West Parade - 10 a.m. on Town Square. One of the last and best horse-drawn parades of the Old West! Enjoy mountain men, vintage vehicles, covered wagons and the legendary gathering of gunslingers of the West, plus all the community groups that make Jackson Hole so special.
27: Old West Brew Fest - Noon- 5 p.m. on Town Square. Try a sampling of an age-old craft. More than a dozen regional craft breweries will gather under one tent on Town Square, offering their best beers to tasters and asking for their vote, with the coveted Golden Boot Award going to the brew with the most votes. Entrance is free. This event has become one of the biggest Old West Days attractions.
27: Old Town Entertainment - Noon- 5 p.m. on Town Square. Country Western music, kids crafts and activities, a mechanical buffalo, demonstrations, cowboy poetry, line dancers and a Cowpoke Rodeo.
27: Stagecoach Rides - 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Stagecoach rides around historic downtown Jackson. Tickets are $6 adult, $4 child.
27: Jackson Hole Rodeo - 8 p.m. at Teton County Fairgrounds. This is the real thing pardner, the original American sport of authentic ranch skills.
28: Cowboy Church on Town Square. Free country music and Bluegrass concert with dancing in the streets; Cowboy Church. 10 am – 12 pm. Town Square.
28: Annual Million Dollar Music Fest, a free, all-ages, big-stage country music concert on the Town Square, presented by the iconic Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, This year's lineup includes mutli-platinum award-winning artist Jon Pardi headlining, with supporting acts Caitlyn Smith, Drew Parker, and Britnee Kellog. Gates open at 4 p.m. and opening acts begin at 6 p.m. - milliondollarcowboybar.com/musicfest
28: Stagecoach Rides - 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Stagecoach rides around historic downtown Jackson. Tickets are $6 adult, $4 child.
29: American Legion Memorial Service - 10 a.m. on Town Square. Memorial Day ceremonies at the flagpole.
Old West Days Parade
The Best of the West Parade steps off in Town Square at 10 a.m. on May 27th. The march was originally a Memorial Day parade before becoming an Old West event more than 40 years ago.
Horses, covered wagons, cowboys of all kinds and mountain men in the garb of the fur trapper era set the tone of the Old West Days theme.
The parade also includes civic groups such as the Jackson Hole Lions Club, Kiwanis, Elks Lodge and Shrine Club, as well as Teton County Fair and Rodeo Royalty, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, the Bar T-5 Chuckwagon and Spring Creek and Heart Six ranches, among dozens of other participants. This year, various community groups will march, illustrating what makes Jackson Hole the Best in the West.
Jackson Hole was originally called Jackson’s Hole, named after fur trapper Davey Jackson who came to the area in 1822, along with fellow trappers Jedediah Smith, Jim Bridger and William Sublette. Trappers often referred to any valley or depression between mountain ranges as a “hole.” Eventually, the apostrophe “s” was dropped and the valley has been known as Jackson Hole ever since.
It is said that Jackson attended the first Mountain Man Rendezvous in the Green River area of Wyoming in 1825.
Mountain Man Rendezvous
If you like history and you like romance, you are going to like the Jackson Hole Mountain Man Rendezvous.
This decades-old event has been a tradition in the valley and a focal point of the annual Old West Days weekend festivities.
Tipis, tomahawks and buckskin-attired mountain men (and women) aren’t the usual inhabitants of Teton County Fairgrounds. But a blast from Jackson Hole’s past will be in residence at the rodeo grounds until Memorial Day (May 29th), allowing a look back into the fur-trade era of the Wild West. The rendezvous traditionally begins during ElkFest and continues through Old West Days. There is no fee to attend this throwback experience to the Old West.