If you stop by Hailey during the week of the Fourth, you’ll probably hear the familiar sounds of the rodeo. The Sawtooth Rangers put on a show for three nights this week for the town’s Days of the Old West celebration.
The Rangers first held a rodeo in Hailey for the Fourth of July in 1949, and it’s been a centerpiece event ever since. But, the Independence Day festivities in Hailey date back even further — to shortly after the town was founded in 1881.
Robert Lonning is a local historian who wrote a book about Hailey. He says it was pretty amazing that a town of about 2,000 organized this event year after year.
“It was the entertainment," Lonning says. "There wasn't television, there wasn’t radio, there wasn't any of that stuff as a distraction. So I think this celebration, this parade, was one of the major entertainments here in this valley.”
An essay included in Lonning’s book says that for people who lived in the outskirts, the Fourth of July might’ve been the only time of year when they made their way to the town center. Hailey was likely the gathering place for the holiday because it was a central location in the region, Lonning says.
This year’s parade, with over 80 entrants, will make its way down Hailey’s main street at noon on Thursday.
Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen
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