Alpine Mountain Days!

Every year the town of Alpine, Wyoming holds a Mountain Days Festival on the third weekend of June, a tradition which started over a quarter-century ago. This year it was held on Friday-Sunday, June 21st – 23rd. The festival includes Mountain Men, Native American Performances, live music, food vendors, commercial booths, a triathlon, chili cookoff, raptor show …

Alpine Mountain Days
June 21-23, 2019

My brother Eric, who owns an Antique/gift store, has a booth at this festival every year. This year David and I decided to travel to Alpine and check it out. We rented a room at the Flying Saddle Resort just outside of town, on account of the motel on the main drag, the Bull Moose Inn and Saloon, was booked. (Do towns with a population of 828 have suburbs?)

Alpine, Wyoming, is about 40 miles south of Jackson Hole (where purportedly the billionaires have run off the millionaires) and many Alpine residents work in Jackson. Alpine sits at the end of the Snake River Canyon where the Snake River enters the Palisades Reservoir. Three rivers converge at Alpine, the Snake, the Salt and the Greys. You would love Alpine if you enjoy snowshoeing, ice fishing, or skiing. The snowfall, on average, is about 500 inches a year.

Here you see an aerial photo of Alpine from this Wiki page (which grants permission to share)

Alpine – uh, somewhere in that valley snowfield

We arrived in Alpine on Friday evening, June 21st. The first day of summer (yay!) and a high of … 58 degrees? Although when I complained about it to Eric he said, “You should have been here two years ago when it was 93 degrees.”

I took a photo of Alpine from our resort – where you can see the convergence of the Greys river into the Snake.

Alpine is hard to catch in photos


The Salt River converges into the Snake near Palisades Reservoir on the other side of Alpine.

Up and at em’ early Saturday to hit the Mountain Days Festivities. Free Pancake breakfast! Or breakfast at the one restaurant in town, the Yankee Doodle Cafe. The triathlon starts at 8 Am – swimming! We heard that participants were jumping in, then back out, on account of the 33-degree water temperature. But they did announce a winner after 10:30 am who crossed the finish line.

Meanwhile check out the booths! At least 30 of them, food vendors and merchants selling American Indian jewelry, photography, alpaca wool clothing, pottery, art, furs, Davy Crockett coon hats (Classic! My brothers each had one, uh, about 55-60 years ago?) – here, I took some photos – :

Shop till you drop!

Might be tempted on a Davy Crockett coon tail hat for nostalgia, but a whole skinned coon?

No country for raccoons

One booth was plastered with wooden signs:

“NO TRESPASSING – VIOLATORS WILL BE SHOT – SURVIVORS WILL BE SHOT AGAIN” (??) Might be a big seller in this part of the country, based on the retail shop on the main drag across the street:

Get your guns and ammo here!

At some point Smokey the Bear made an appearance

“Only YOU can prevent forest fires!”

Smokey on a toke break. (Ha – Just kidding)

Our most favorite booth of all was, of course, Eric’s. We walked right past it the first time through, I was so distracted by the bright merchandise and baubles around me – I was looking left, and you entered his booth to the right, under a little awning, but then it spread out into an open grassy area, because, well, I can only explain this in a video I took of Eric’s booth. (Turn up your sound…)

That’s Eric sitting back there in the blue fleece, on this breezy Saturday in Alpine.

Garden spinners – flowers, eagles and owls, Oh My! Dragonflies, and even a bat – metal garden art of all sorts. Propelled by the wind. Newly refinished antique trunks and dressers. An old carpenter’s work bench. And Sasquatch!

A disgruntled Sasquatch walking out of Eric’s booth

Across the street from the vendors is Mountain Man Trader’s Row and the Indian Village:

A weathered bunch

Where the mountain men and Indians gathered, danced and sold their wares.

The Shoshone Indians performed ceremonial dances. I captured a bit of one – not the most elaborate, but worth sharing

imparts maybe some understanding of the origins of punk rock (??)

And of course, the chili cookoff. Eleven entries – and for five bucks you could sample them all and not be hungry again for six hours.

Chili Cookoff!

The chicken chili won. (Note to self- Make chicken chili next time I enter into a chili cook-off contest with a $50.00 1st place prize. All the red chili’s taste nearly the same, because they look the same.)

On Saturday afternoon The Teton Raptor Center presented two raptor presentations, free to the public. Well worth seeing! Located in Wilson, Wyoming (near Jackson Hole) the Teton Raptor Center receives and rehabilitates injured raptors from private citizens and Fish and Game, with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. They keep the raptors who can’t survive in the wild, due to permanent injuries. They use these birds to educate people about raptors and how human behavior affects their well-being. The presentation today included a Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Great-horned Owl,a Bald Eagle,a Kestrel, and a Peregrine Falcon. I took photos of them all while listening to their histories.

Meet Gus, the Golden Eagle:

He fledged the nest with a broken wing that never healed properly. So he couldn’t fly. Gus is the second oldest bird in the center, at 14 years old.

Owlie – the Great horned owl – was hit by a truck in Wilson Wyoming.

Owlie and the Bald Eagle

One wing was too badly damaged to heal properly. His disposition was very grumpy until they discovered he had severe arthritis in his damaged wing. They removed the section of wing that was inflamed and learned that owlie’s owlishness had been due to pain. He is now a much happier bird. Owlie is also 14 years old, one of the original birds in the center.

Owlie with the red tailed hawk

Red tailed hawk

The red-tailed hawk – was brought in with a broken wing after being hit by a car. The wing was rehabilitated but when they released him he refused to leave. They finally determined that in addition to a broken wing he suffered from a brain injury.

One point that was driven home in the presentation – Don’t toss apple cores and other edible scraps out your car window thinking it’s fine because they are ‘biodegradable’. Birds fly down to snatch up the food but can’t get aloft enough on take-off to avoid getting hit by passing cars!

The Bald Eagle: Female (you can tell males and females apart by their size – females are much larger than males!)

Bald Eagle!

She was sent to the center from Missouri – found sick from a severe bacterial infection caused by drinking polluted water. She was finally healed, but the infection had seriously damaged the bones in her wings so she could no longer fly.

You can tell her age by the color of her head. It doesn’t turn completely white until the bald eagle is about five years old. This eagle is about four, which is why she has a salt-and-pepper-colored head.

Photo of the kestrel – a much smaller bird, but still a raptor (but I don’t remember the story…)

Kestrel- in the photo above and below

Peregrine Falcon: This guy was captured after not leaving his nest:

It was discovered that he had a bacterial infection in his eyes. The center was able to cure the infection and restore his vision, but the peregrine falcon couldn’t hunt because his cloudy vision had caused him to miss grades K-12 where the parents had taught the fledglings to hunt.

Check out this link to the Teton Raptor Center. You can visit these birds in Wilson and experience educational raptor encounters similar to what we experienced here at Alpine Mountain Days. Or come to Alpine the third weekend of June during any year!

Eric, David and I ate dinner Saturday night at the new brewery in Alpine – Melvin Brewery – that started up in Jackson, Wyoming, and then they moved their headquarters to Alpine and vastly expanded their operation.

The Melvin Brewery sits right at the tip of Palisades Reservoir. They distribute beer to bars in Idaho Falls and other surrounding areas. Here is the view from their patio (although lovely for summer, but a bit too chilly to eat outside today.)

Melvin Brewery Patio overlooking Palisades

It’s Sunday morning and we need to hit the road back home. We stop by Eric’s booth one more time and hang out a bit. The morning is peaceful, the air is calm, and noticeably warmer than yesterday. We sit, entertained by the little children that belong to the Indian family that sells alpaca wool clothing in the booth behind Eric …

Too precious!

David is wearing his new ‘Melvin Brewery’ sweatshirt he bought yesterday from a vendor.

We particularly like the back of it.

Yeah! Don’t hate. Party.

And on that note I think I’ll put a wrap on this.

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3 Responses to “Alpine Mountain Days!”

  1. iowachick Says:

    Your blogs are so good. I felt as though I was there. Even felt the chilly part in 110-degree weather here.

  2. iowachick Says:

    Don’t know why I’m Iowa chick?

  3. Pauline Says:

    Think I got it changed.

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