Old West Days parade at risk of cancellation
JACKSON (WNE) — Jackson’s Old West Days Parade, the longest-running horse-drawn parade in the West, by some accounts, may not return from its pandemic hiatus.
The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce is considering calling off the parade, while keeping certain other Memorial Day events, because of declining participation, Chamber CEO and President Anna Olson said.
“We are actively working on a way for this to work,” she said.
Members of the ranching and agriculture community should reach out to the chamber if they want to participate this year, she said.
Town special events coordinator Carl Pelletier said Wednesday that he still hadn’t received a permit application for the annual event.
The parade has over the years brought a robust crowd of spectators, at least before the pandemic, and has showcased varied community partners such as the Jackson Hole Lions, Kiwanis, Elks Lodge and Shrine clubs, as well as Teton County Fair and Rodeo Royalty, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, the Bar T-5 Chuckwagon, and the Spring Creek and Heart Six ranches.
Originally envisioned as a celebration of Western heritage during a light offseason, the parade may have been made impractical by modern circumstances.
“Now the ranch is full, they can’t drop everything to be in a parade,” Olson said.
The number of participants was on the decline even before COVID-19 canceled the parade in 2020 and 2021, Olson said. In 2019, there were just 22 entrants, and half of those participants were non-horse drawn, which potentially jeopardized the parade’s core identity, she said.
While Olson said it would be “brilliant” for the event to continue, at the end of the day “a parade needs participants.”