The Story Behind the Modern Wort
On August 5, 1980 The Wort Hotel had an unfortunate fire that burned the roof and the second floor. Everyone in town joined efforts to help tame the fire that was consuming the town’s beloved hotel. It seemed like everyone had a stake in the fire’s outcome and showed up to see what would happen. The potential loss of the hotel was never felt as strongly as it was for people watching flames destroy the roof and second story, and then start towards the bar. Where would I work? Where would we meet? How can town survive without its heart?
Nancy Takeda, employee at the Wort for 52 years commented “During the reconstruction, people would get food and drinks and sit on Broadway watching the construction workers rebuild their home away from home. I’d constantly hear people yelling across the street towards the construction workers. They would ask ‘How much longer?’ Or ‘When will you guys be done?’ It was a waiting game for everyone in town.”
A Community Cornerstone
Almost a year later on June 1981, the Wort Hotel reopened the coffee shop, bar, and restaurant. The General Manager of the Wort and the Chamber of Commerce’s president wanted to give the people of Jackson a weekend long celebration in honor of the Wort’s reopening. The Wort contacted every local, rancher, and businessman throughout the area to inform them of the upcoming event. A line of 50 horses, a chuckwagon, the Forest Service, and the local stagecoach paraded from the county fairgrounds to the Wort Hotel. Square dancers, twirlers, and western swing bands entertained in the streets, while the Wort served up $1 silver dollar pancakes and Bloody Marys. TV crews came from Idaho Falls, Salt Lake City and even as far as Denver to televise the celebration. The event was such a success that it continues today as the annual Old West Days.
A Memorial Day Tradition
Today, Jackson Hole’s Old West Days, is still held annually over Memorial Day weekend and celebrates the town’s identity as “The Last of the Old West”. Jackson, Wyoming is proud to host the 36th annual Old West Days Celebration, May 26-29, 2017. With the area’s exceptionally rich history, it’s no wonder Old West Days is a favorite among tourists and locals alike. Visitors from all over the country come to enjoy the hometown parade featuring horse-drawn vehicles, old-time music, rodeo events and the annual Mountain Man Rendezvous.
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