Turn n’ burn horse barrel races, pig wrestling and dog agility are three great reasons to check out and even participate in the annual Teton County Fair. In its 61st year, the 10-day extravaganza showcases local talent and live entertainment for all ages, not to mention a carnival. This year, the fair is raising the stakes by bringing in an Extreme Ninja obstacle course and the Budweiser Clydesdale Team to draw an even wider audience.
“Our biggest challenge is that this county is so active – everyone is always out hiking in the mountains – so we try to offer a wide variety of events to bring the community together,” says Fair Manager Kaitlyn Mangis.
But the heart and soul of the Fair’s history lives on in the livestock auction, which hearkens E.B. Webb’s tale of “Charlotte’s Web.”
“They shut down the fair building because every kid (who raises livestock) is bawling their eyes out,” says Hailey Hardeman, 15, a fourth generation Jackson Hole rancher. “You definitely get emotionally attached.”
The fair, which runs from July 21-30, offers a cash purse from $50-$1,000 plus for its biggest events. In addition to being a lot of fun, it is a window into what life was like here back in the day when ranchers owned most of the real estate in town.
Hardeman, whose family homesteaded the Hardeman Hereford Ranch, has been going to fair since she was a baby. She began raising her own steers for Teton County 4H since she was 8, even though most of her family’s land, including the Wilson barns that house the Raptor Center and the Wilson School, is leased to the county and land trust.
The fourth generation Jackson High School Bronc and former rodeo princess is proud of her family’s history and the self-sufficiency they’ve handed down to her. With steer sales at $12 a pound, she has put thousands of dollars in her college savings fund and bought two of her own horses.
“It’s kind of like my own business. The other day when I got my driver’s permit they asked, ‘do you pay taxes?’ I said, actually I do. I’ve learned a lot having all of these animals.”
Look for Hailey and her sister Gracie to bring three steers to the fair this year and ride in the rodeo to carry the torch for their late grandfather, Earl Hardeman, a beloved rodeo announcer and rancher who moved the Hardeman Family Ranch from Kelly to Wilson in 1967.
2017 Fair Highlights
Budweiser Clydesdale Team on display Tuesday, July 25-Sunday 30th with appearances at. The Grand Entry of the July 29 rodeo at 8pm and Figure 8 races July 30 at 7pm.
Dog Show Friday at 9am
Extreme Ninja Obstacle Course open Friday 28th from 1:30-5pm for fun with a race at 7pm
Livestock on display in the 26th and leave Sunday the 30th after local businesses and individuals finish their bidding.
For a full schedule of events and to learn how to sign up, participate and earn cash prizes go to tetoncountyfair.com.