Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Mark Dykes

Pageant, festival packs town


August 9, 2018

Mark Dykes

One of many Native American dancers performs a War Dance following the Gift of the Waters Pageant Parade on Saturday morning. Parade winners were: Overall - Gottsche, 12 and Under - Crimson Dietz, 13-18 - Hot Springs County/4-H Shooting Sports, Individual - Dan Pebbles, and Organization - Hot Springs County Republican Party.

This past weekend was one of the more active in Thermopolis, with the Big Horn Basin Folk Festival and Gift of the Waters Pageant.

Toddi Darlington, who co-chairs the festival with Linda Herrin, said this year saw 51 booths featuring food, fine art, folk art and trading post items. There was a slight increase in Saturday visitors as well, Darlington noted, though Sunday it appeared there were more participants than people coming through. Darlington added there was a bit of a rush when church let out.

The festival had 17 master craftsmen over the two days, showing crafts such as drum making, leather craft, weaving, creating beads, tying flies, creating clay animals and wood working. The art activities tent, which is geared more toward kids' activities, had 84 people painting rocks in three hours. There were also baskets being woven and beaded key chains made.

At the main pavilion, Darlington said, there were a number of musicians entertaining, some with crowds of 80 or more. Storytellers also presented their tales, she said, with crowds of 40 to 50. Darlington said the storytelling was quite interesting, as members of the Hot Springs County Pioneer Association shared tales of the homesteading of the Wind River Canyon and Hamilton Dome, as well as local history.

According to the vendors she spoke to, Darlington said it looks like they had great sale days. Overall, she heard plenty of compliments on the festival including some who think this was the best year in its four-year history.

Vendors pay fees to set up their booths, and Darlington said that money goes to the local Kiwanis, which uses it for kids projects and scholarships.

As for the pageant, Gift of the Waters Committee Treasurer Barb Vietti said it went great and though there were a couple "hiccups" with the sound system and the rainy weather those were overcome. She was happy to see the pageant had more participants than it has in years, and the crowds were estimated at about 500 on Saturday and 200 on Sunday.

Gift of the Waters Committee President Shasta Shafer said they were trying out a new sound system set up and had a couple glitches they got worked out by Sunday. She was appreciative of everyone in the community and the tribal members who helped to put this on, and said it was the best one they've done since they started putting it on in 2011.

This year, work was done to present a pageant that was more like the one performed in 1950. Vietti said there were some minor changes, though it would be difficult to notice them unless one had helped with the pageant or come to see it several years in a row. Among the changes were the horseman stationed along Memorial Hill, she said, which really added a lot.

She also expressed appreciation to the dancers, for both the number who came and the enthusiasm they had, and those who portrayed characters such as Chief Washakie, the sub chiefs and the Native American princess.


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