Monday, August 24, 2009

In strong support of Ketchum

The first year I moved here, there was an incident on Main Street, involving two women in a fender bender. Instead of bolting out of their cars to blame each other, they both emerged to apologize profusely and peacefully. They each made sure the other person was alright, then gave each other sweet bear hugs. They then agreed that they would have to get together soon, because it had been too long since they had seen each other.

This remarkable event defined for me what is the essence of everything good about Ketchum and perhaps for what is great about many small western towns. People who care about each other, more than they do for their material possessions.

Therefore, it grates at me, when I hear intermittent comments that disparage the town and townspeople of Ketchum (and the WR Valley). Some will say, “I have no desire to visit Ketchum, or any of the people up there.” That’s too bad, because if you take a closer look; this pedestrian-friendly town offers much for young and old, rich and poor, sick and well.

Like most Idaho towns, Ketchum has changed over the years. Yet it still retains many high-quality aspects of a hardy western town. When it comes to weather, Ketchum is in the top ten percentile of sunniest towns. The people here are equally sunny and there is ample reason for this. A river runs through it, offering opportunities for enjoyable fishing and water sports. We have a popular YMCA. On summer Tuesdays, a vibrant farmers-market attracts vendors and customers from throughout South Idaho. After that, live-music performers play freely til twilight in the Forest Service Park.

For the spiritual, Ketchum has more than a handful of sacred places to worship. When someone becomes severely ill or is in a crash, our community often bonds together, helping with fundraisers.

Wagon Days brings a festive weekend of olden-times coming alive; as craftspeople, blacksmiths and storytellers demonstrate their trades and speak their lore. Wagon Days also features North America’s largest non-motorized parade.

Ketchum’s Community Library has an extensive regional history section, with helpful staff and an oral history program. The library also hosts frequent lectures and enlightening events, featuring respected authors and adventurers from near and far.

Ketchum has dozens of fine restaurants. We have movie theaters, nine outdoor parks, live stage and swimming holes. Free newspapers, magazines, maps and Wifi are widely available. We also have a water park, bringing boundless glee to splashing kids. On the edge of town, Sun Valley Company is installing a Gondola for thrilling Bald Mt. rides.

Sometimes Ketchum shopkeepers can be found purchasing items from other stores within town. They then will mark the items with a helpful sign, indicating where such a product can be found in this town.

This list of what good things our fine town (and valley) has to offer is much longer than this, but I hope for now this gives some hesitation to those who are quick to sneer at lively Ketchum.

I sometimes wonder if some of Ketchum’s harsh critics have even spent much time here.



After Hailey’s candlelight vigil march, last month for Bowe Bergdahl, the Hailey Soldier captured in Afghanistan, I sat with some friends, one of whom described an image she thought captured Hailey’s best essence.

One of the men attending the vigil had left his work-tools in the open on the back of his truck, parked in front of Zaney’s, where the event began. He had drawn a large sign, asking passerby to leave his tools alone, because he was standing for Bowe. And the aura of respectfulness permeated the atmosphere so thick that evening, that nobody dared tamper with his tools.

This reminded me of an incident, where another friend described the essence of true Hailey, by simply saying it’s a place she feels is safe for mothers and grandmother’s to walk around town, without fear.

1 comment:

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Great post, Jim!