Morning News-Lisa Lete
The United States Army float was just one of the many parade sights to be seen sharing the theme "In Harmony With Our Traditions and Values"as the Shoshone-Bannock festival all-ndian parade slowly rolled its way through the streets of Fort Hall Saturday morning, evoking cheers from spectators young and old alike.
Organizers commented that "there were no dark clouds over the 49th annual Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival"- literally or figuratively speaking - as the week's festivities wrapped up Sunday with rodeo finals and a closing Grand Entry and Pow-wow.
"We've had quite a crowd; the weather was great and I've heard no complaints from the vendors," said festival coordinator Delbert Farmer.
"We finished off the festival with a spectacular Pow-Wow; the dancers, singers and drummers seem to be the biggest draw.and are truly the heart of the celebration," he added. "Along with the dancers, there are tribal groups from other areas such as "Iron Horse" and "Southern Thunder" from Oklahoma who compete and show off their drumming and singing."
Dozens of art and food vendors in teepees, tents and trailers.and hundreds of tribal members and spectators from all over the United States and Canada converged on the small town of Forth Hall for the four-day festival, making for a busy week at the new Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Event Center as well.
"We were completely booked up Friday and Saturday night," said reservationist Ryan Truchot. "Our restaurants were packed and everyone was very happy with the food and service; we were thrilled to get this extra business and show off what we have here. And we are ready for more guests."
Another highly anticipated part of the festival was the crowning of the new Miss Shoshone-Bannock for the 2012-13 year. This year's winner was Natasha Watson, a recent high school graduate. She replaces Alexandria Alvarez who was on hand to pass the crown down to Watson.
Farmer said the festival has grown so large since its start up nearly 50 years ago that tribal officials formed a safety committee to address growth-related issues such as camping, parking and crowd control.
"There's always a few minor issues that come up, but I can't think of anything bad that happened to dampen the festivities," Farmer said.
While this year's festival was huge as expected, drawing hundreds of tribal members and spectators from all over the United States and Canada to celebrate the tribes' heritage and honor veterans and chiefs, Farmer said next year's festival will be even bigger as it will be its 50th anniversary.
"Next year we are hoping to make the festival a week-long event and host a Shoshone reunion," Farmer said. "We are already planning for it, reuniting friends and family."
According to Farmer, the Shoshone-Bannock festival is one of the most popular and diverse Indian festivals in the country and one of the largest [festivals] still held on tribal lands.