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Summer Kicks Off in Wyoming

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

*Powwow images courtesy guest photographer Kim Zierlein at Frontier Fortitude photography

Every summer since before I can remember, kicks off with two events in northwestern Wyoming. Usually, you would choose which event you would like to attend and maybe rotate years, but being an overachiever I wanted to attend both this year 😂

youth traditional dancer, Della’s daughter
youth traditional dancer, Della’s daughter


Jake Clark’s Mule Days

Saturday morning I gathered up my overnight bag and took the short drive from Cody to Ralston, Wyoming. I arrived just in time to park and watch the parade! Jake Clark’s Mule Days is a week-long event leading up to a world-class mule auction on Sunday afternoon. Earlier in the week you can watch the sale mules team rope, compete in mounted shooting, and be scored as they navigate an obstacle course that shows off their training. There are always vendors with good food, tack, and other local organizations for you to enjoy between events!

Saturday, the mules, rodeo contestants, and Clark family Parade through Ralston. The parade starts at 11 am. One of their Grandmas is going to be 90 this year and is still riding in the parade (on a wagon now but still…)

This year the One Arm Bandit was there to perform at half time in the rodeo! So he showed off his skills up close in the parade as well!

After the parade guests are invited to browse through the sale mules and vendors. The rodeo starts at 1 p.m. making this break a great time to grab lunch! The rodeo has all of the events you would expect at a regular rodeo with a twist. In place of horses, the contestants perform on their mules. Roping, barrel racing, steer riding, wild cow milking, and much more this is one event you don’t want to miss!

We finish out the evening with dinner, dessert auction, live music, and dancing. Exhausted but happy I crawled into my sleeping bag that night ready to start another adventure the next day!

Plains Indian Museum Powwow

Sunday I spent the morning at our camping spot at Mule Days. Dad made breakfast and we discussed our plans for the day. Dad and the rest of my family were going to spend the day at the auction while I headed back to Cody for Powwow. We decided to meet up that evening for dinner but that’s another story.

Warshield D White photographed in Men’s Fancy division

Heading back to Cody I wasn’t aware that Powwow had started early because of rain in the forecast. However, if you are planning to come to this event I highly recommend that you simply plan for rain. This year and the year before they had to end early Saturday because of rain and start early Sunday for the same reason.

Elmer BlackBird, veteran honored both days with warbonnet gifting from Chico HerManyHorses
Elmer BlackBird, veteran honored both days with warbonnet gifting from Chico HerManyHorses

Sadly, this meant that I had missed most of the competition including my favorite: the Jingle Dress Dancers. Thankfully, my good friend Kim with Frontier Fortitude was there capturing the event all weekend!

Della Big-Hair Stump in women’s jingle dress division also native fashion designer of Designs by Della
Della Big-Hair Stump in women’s jingle dress division also native fashion designer of Designs by Della

As it was, I got there in time to watch the Men’s Traditional, Men’s Grass, and Men’s Fancy divisions. Somehow, I got really lucky and was seated right behind one of the drum teams!

The Plains Indian Museum Powwow is special to me because it brings so many people together. There are tribes that come from all over the United States to dance here. There are also visitors to Cody and Yellowstone National Park discovering Powwow from all over the world! It’s a wonderful reminder of a culture that didn’t die with history and one that maybe many of us never get the chance to interact with directly.

When this event comes to an end, I highly encourage you to go into the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and browse through the Plains Indian Museum galleries. They have represented in their collection the stories of the Plains peoples both past and present! It’s educational and a great experience for visitors of all ages.

As the rain started to sprinkle again, I made a quick dash for the Indian Taco Tent. This is a once a year treat for me with deep-fried breading filled with everything you would expect on a regular taco. You can also get this fried bread with sweet stuff like butter, honey, cinnamon, and sugar if you’re looking for a tasty dessert!

There are other options for food nearby including burgers, buffalo burgers, hot dogs, and so on. Around the Powwow grounds are several Native Vendors selling incredible jewelry, artwork, and other keepsakes to remember your visit by.

Since these events take place Father’s Day weekend each year, this is your perfect opportunity to start planning your own visit!

Which event would you choose to participate in if you only had one weekend in Wyoming? How did you kick off summer?

Thank you, fellow adventurers! You can follow the lilmissbearpaw blog page on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @lilmissbearpaw for sneak peeks into upcoming posts and my adventures. This will also be a great place to share your own adventures!

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