Two ElkFests. Two states. Two seasons.

ElkFest in Jackson, Wyoming is one of several spring events.

J-HoleElkFestEstes Park, Colorado’s ElkFest is in the fall during the rut when the the bulls issue their plaintive mating calls, the aspens turn golden and snow often begins to dust the high peaks. Jackson, in Wyoming’s wonderful northwestern corner, also has an ElkFest, but it is in spring when the wildflowers bloom and hibernating wildlife show up. ElkFest takes place May 21 – 22, followed the next weekend by Old West Days, May 26 – 30

Wagonloads of antlers along the streets of Jackson attract buyers from all over the world for ElkFest’s annual Boy Scout Antler Auction on May 21. Now in its 49th year, the auction typically features more than 10,000 pounds of the naturally shed elk antlers gathered by local Boy Scouts. That rustic antler chandelier probably was made with antlers gathered by the local Scouts. The majority of auction proceeds go back to the National Elk Refuge on the outskirts of town, which devotes approximately 25,000 acres to the preservation of winter range for elk and bison herds.


Also, on Sunday, May 22, the High Noon Chili Cook-Off returns to Jackson Town Square, offering a chance to sample the goods from local chefs and organizations vying for the public’s “Best of the West” vote. Cost to taste is $5, and the event only ends when the chili runs out.

Also overlapping with ElkFest weekend are Old West Days, May 27 – 30, including the Mountain Man Rendezvous and Traders Row at the Teton Fairgrounds. That blast from the past includes costumed mountain men demonstrating their bow-and-arrow and hawk-and-knife skills, plus sales of refreshments and handcrafted goods.

The historic Wort Hotel celebrates its 75th anniversary on Thursday, May 26, during the day and into the evening. The public is invited to the party in the Silver Dollar Showroom. Built in 1941, The Wort was Jackson Hole’s first hotel and remains a landmark favorite among visitors and locals. On Friday, May 27, Old West Days’ Jackson Western heritage activities continue at the Bar J Chuckwagon at 7 p.m., serving up an authentic Western-style dinner and world-class cowboy entertainment. Saturday morning, May 28, the 35th annual Old West Days Parade starts from Town Square at 10 a.m., followed by family-friendly activities such as kids’ crafts and live Western music.