FORT HALL — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are celebrating the 56th Annual Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival starting on Aug. 8-11 in Fort Hall. According to Festival Coordinator, Wendy Farmer, “The Festival is considered the largest outdoor powwow in the state of Idaho.” The festival is open and free to the public of all ages. We estimate over 1,000 plus dancers will be attending our powwow.”

Tribal member Wiley Peterson will host the Bull Riding Mayhem sponsored by the Shoshone-Bannock Casino Hotel on Thursday night at the Fort Hall Rodeo grounds, the traditional Indian Relay horse races, two rodeos, two parades- a Warriors Parade on Thursday at 10 a.m. and The Chiefs’ Parade on Saturday at 10 a.m., the route will go along Agency Road and lead to the Dance Arbor, an All-Indian Softball Tournament, Traditional Hand Game, a golf tournament, a Horse Shoe Tournament, a Skate Jam and free Buffalo and Salmon Feast on Saturday at the Dance Arbor; all within walking distance from the main arbor.

Every year, the festival brings in over 10,000 spectators from all over the state, region and Indian Country. In August 1964, the former Recreation Director Reeves Nawoosky (Comanche) planned a year-end celebration after a successful summer of recreation activities in Fort Hall. The event was called a social powwow that drew in many young and old dancers and local drum groups to celebrate. The next year the event established a cultural pageant for local Shoshone-Bannock young ladies to be crowned Miss Shoshone-Bannock (serves for one year). The current Miss Shoshone-Bannock is Jennie Whitehorse and represents the Tribe in all her travels throughout the United States as the tribal ambassador. The new Miss Shoshone-Bannock will be crowned at 6 p.m. before the grand entry on Friday at the Festival arbor. This year there are three local candidates vying for the highest title in Fort Hall; they are Ontaria Ariwite, Dystnee Rope and Stormie Perdash. Over the years, the festival added in pageant titles for the little girls starting at 2 years old to 17 years of age. The competition for the juniors starts on Friday at noon at the festival arbor (competition is open to federally recognized Native American youth from other Tribes).

This year, the Festival added in Festival Committee Specials that add extra highlights to the overall powwow. These added events are free and open to the public, they include a Shoshone-Bannock Men’s Round Bustle Special for 16 years of age or older in traditional, old-style regalia and a Shoshone-Bannock Women’s Buckskin Special for 16 years of age or older in traditional buckskin dress only. A Veterans Dance Special open to all Native American Veterans can dance in uniform, fatigues or traditional regalia. This special was selected to bring recognition to all American Indian Veterans serving in the armed forces and also to bring awareness that Fort Hall is designated as a Purple Heart Reservation. Also, a Hand Drum contest. All these specials will take place on Saturday, after the 7 p.m. Grand Entry. All events require registration of participants at the speaker’s stage (look for more information inside the Sho-Ban news magazine). The Fort Hall Indian Relay Association reports that there will be 23 Indian Relay teams participating in the Indian Relay races that start on Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and Championship at 5 p.m. at the Fort Hall Rodeo grounds. There is an admission price of $8 per adult (cash only).

Over 25 food vendors will be selling starting on Thursday to Sunday, offering authentic Native American food including buffalo stew and fry bread, Indian Tacos, grilled corn and not to mention over 70 art vendors selling handmade Native American beadwork, jewelry, fine art, moccasins, animal hides and beads. No art show will be held this year.

The Powwow Coordinator is James Tone from Fort Hall, Master of Ceremony is Ruben Little Head of Montana and local announcers Mike Mendez, Tyson Shay, Jordan Broncho and Matt Wilson. Powwow Arena Directors are Joseph Baldwin, Greg Osborne, Tony Tone and Nelson Fred. Host drum is Bear Creek Singers from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Canada.

For more information on the daily schedule of events, purchase a Sho-Ban Newspaper which includes the Festival Magazine. They will be available for sale on Aug. 5 at all outlets. The campground is an open and onsite and there is also a designated RV area. Check the festival website for a map. Absolutely np drones will be allowed at the festival, softball field and rodeo grounds. For more information check online at www.shobanfestival.com or search "Shoshone-Bannock Indian Festival" on Facebook and Instagram.