Ketch’em Alive, Jazz in the Park and Wagon Days became the latest casualties of the financial stress and health concerns brought on by the coronavirus, Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw announced on Thursday.
“City-led events will be limited this year,” Bradshaw said in his “Mayor’s Missive” newsletter, which brought citizens up to speed on the current situation as Idaho moves into phase two of Gov. Little’s reopening scheme. “Due to restrictions on public gatherings, and to help manage our expenses, we be reducing our spend [sic] on events. This year we will cancel [Ketch’em] Alive, Jazz in the Park and many small events in Town Square.”
Despite the mayor’s statement, Wagon Days, Ketch’em Alive and the other events are listed as items for discussion at this Monday’s Ketchum City Council meeting. That meeting is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. In recognition of public safety concerns, the meeting will be streamed live online at ketchumidaho.org/meetings.
Will Caldwell, the founder and organizer of both the Ketch’em Alive and Jazz in the Park concert series, said the city’s decision was hardly surprising, based on the current outlook.
“It’s pretty tough to imagine any semblance of the normal Ketch’em Alive if it’s going to be so restrictive,” Caldwell said. “The city’s feeling the squeeze, sponsors are feeling the squeeze, bands are calling off tours—there seems to be a lot of reasons why it doesn’t make sense.”
The free concert series occurs weekly in Forest Service Park, drawing crowds of hundreds each time, often with numbers exceeding a thousand. 2019 was a major anniversary—20 years—and though 2020 has been called off, Caldwell hopes to get the ball rolling again in 2021.
“It always has been about the community coming together. It’s a convergence of people, not a separation,” Caldwell said. “If social distance is the norm, Ketch’em Alive is the opposite. If people can’t come together, then it’s not serving its own purpose.”
That said, Caldwell hopes he may be able to arrange some kind of alternative on a smaller scale—pop-up bands or wandering minstrel-style performers. Otherwise, he is looking towards 2021.
Mayor Bradshaw also weighed in on the outlook of the late-summer traditional festival Wagon Days. The days-long September event annually attracts thousands of visitors from near and far, standing out as one of the biggest events on Blaine County’s calendar and—in fact—one of the largest nonmotorized parades in the country.
“Wagon Days will be significantly reduced featuring only the Big Hitch to preserve the tradition,” Bradshaw’s statement said.
Beyond that, little information has yet been offered on how Wagon Days will proceed.