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|Monday, 18 August, 2014|
FHBC Chairman Nathan Small welcomes all the Shoshone-Bannock Festival. (Roselynn Wahtomy photo)
By ROSELYNN WAHTOMY
FORT HALL – The arbor at the Fort Hall Festival grounds is empty right now, but by the end of the week it will be filled with dancers and singers from all over Indian Country.
Fort Hall Business Council (FHBC) Chairman Nathan Small welcomes everyone to the 51st Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival, which will kick off on Thursday, August 7 to Sunday, August 10.
“Everything’s looking good. We are going to have a really good Festival here. We got a new coordinator, RoseAnn Abrahamson,” he said at a press conference for local media on August 1.
He explained it is called a Festival due to the variety of activities going on besides the powwow, there is the Miss Shoshone-Bannock pageant, rodeo, softball tournament, golf tournament, skate jam, rodeo, Indian Relay, parades, feast, art show, food concessions and arts and craft vendors.
Abrahamson commended all the committees for coordinating the event, also the FHBC, Facilities, and public safety.
The factor of making everything safe for the people was one of the main priorities this year. Abrahamson asked people to be cautious of little children and the elderly, also that people be courteous and respectful to one another by obeying all speed signs and double checking when maneuvering one’s vehicle.
Abrahamson says she wants the people to know there will be changes and they are working on defining an emergency site. They have tried to accommodate families who have camped in specific areas for years and have moved the vendors in to do so.
Organizing the event also includes making updates and improvements to the area. At the arbor the announcer’s platform area has been enhanced with a new tabletop and it has been weatherized. At the rodeo grounds, painting has occurred, there are new lights, and a watering system has been installed. The gambling arbor has also received a new coat of paint.
Some changes will take place to some of the events this year, for instance the newly crowned Miss Shoshone-Bannock queen will be encouraged to make an appearance at many of the events set throughout the weekend.
At the powwow, the California Bird Singers have been invited as a gift for the people since many don’t have the opportunity to observe the beauty of their culture.
On Thursday night there will be a traditional honoring of veterans. Social dancing will also take place and families will be highlighted, as the night will be considered one for the local community.
On Friday the powwow will officially start with U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) 2nd District set to appear after grand entry.
The parades are open to the public and have drawn interest from the outside community. This year’s grand marshals are the Yupe and Osborne families. On Saturday a family float category has been added with four places and a grand prize of $400.
The powwow contest categories have been revamped and are expected to draw a lot of champion dancers.
This year’s feast will be at the Festival Arbor on Saturday and the menu is barbecue buffalo, potato salad, baked beans, frybread as well as traditional dishes like yaha. For the kids, there will be hot dogs and chips available. Anyone willing to help with the feast may contact Annie Marshall at 208-681-6980. A violinist from Turin, Italy who was invited to perform as part of a cross-cultural exchange will provide entertainment.
Campers are invited to shower at Sho-Ban Jr./Sr. High School for a small fee.
The rodeo looks to be a big event this year with 421 entrants registered to date.
Special events to look forward to are the honoring of past cowboys. The grand marshal for the rodeo is Cliff Houtz. There will be a chuck wagon; pie bake off and chili cook off. Anyone willing to volunteer with the chuck wagon can contact Anna Brower at 208-705-2886. A cowboy hat and boot dance will go on and Miss Indian Rodeo is also set to make an appearance.
Some changes at the rodeo include the relocation of some sites, like the horse trailer parking due to safety issues. There will be a heliport and an emergency site on location.
Also available will be a new warm up arena.
This will be the first year the rodeo will be sanctioned under the Western States Indian Rodeo Association. Dave Petersen will also be brought back as the announcer.
The Art Show will open on Thursday with a reception where spectators can meet and greet the artists. They can also take in live entertainment and a silent auction. A violinist from Turin, Italy has been invited to provide entertainment as part of a cross-cultural exchange.
“We are one of the top 100 places to visit in the United States and in reality in order to present that we have to make the improvements and make the changes. If we are advertising that and we want to bring more people in and we want to continue to present ourself and maintain that reputation we have to move with the times,” said Abrahamson.
Abrahamson says she is most excited to see all the visitors, dancers, rodeo participants but most of all the pride in the people’s eyes.
“Just doing it for the people that’s exciting – making people happy,” she said.
The event is open to everyone and admission is free.
Miss Indian World Taylor Thomas and Miss Indian Nations Alexandria Alvarez will be signing autographs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Thomas invited everyone to come out and take part in the events and Alvarez hoped the outside community took the time to come as a learning opportunity and a chance for a cross-cultural education.