The City of Hailey may be located 150 miles from the largest metro area in Idaho (Boise) but it overflows with an abundance of arts and cultural activities and events that are truly world class. Here you can find Broadway quality theatre, renowned music festivals and events, a thriving community of artists and musicians, and a city that fully supports the arts in its many diverse forms.
The City’s Hailey Arts Commission, whose mission is to enhance the cultural vitality of the community, manages the city’s exciting and creative Percent for Public Art Program to develop arts related projects throughout Hailey.
But there is so much more…all year round.
Photo credits: Sun Valley Center for the Arts
One organization that has called Hailey home for nearly 20 years is the award-winning Company of Fools, a non-profit theatre company and part of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, which produces Broadway quality shows year-round, based out of Bruce Willis’ beautifully restored circa-1930s Liberty Theatre located on Hailey’s Main Street. Company of Fools is a theatre company driven by the power of the theatrical experience to connect artist and audience, and their mission is to engage, inspire, entertain and perform.
In the fall of 1996, founding members Rusty Wilson and Denise Simone relocated Company of Fools to Hailey, Idaho at the urging of Bruce Willis and his then-wife Demi Moore, who had also recently moved to the area. Since that time, Company of Fools has produced an average of 5 major performances each year, ranging from relatively unknown pieces by aspiring new playwrights to popular musicals and shows. They have featured well-known actors such as Bruce Willis, Robin Williams and Jodie Foster, along with a variety of other notable and up- and- coming performers, on their stage over the years. Through their strong commitment to innovative and dynamic artistic excellence, Company of Fools has contributed immensely to the rich cultural life of the Wood River Valley and greater Idaho, and appreciative audience members from around the world routinely applaud their outstanding work.
Photo credits: Sun Valley Center for the Arts
In 2005, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts became the owner of a historic house at 314 Second Avenue South, one of the oldest houses in Hailey, Idaho. The house was the birthplace of poet Ezra Pound and was later the private residence of one of Hailey’s most beloved and busy citizens, Roberta McKercher, until her death in 1996. Only the first floor of the house is open to the public. The upstairs is frequently used to house visiting artists. The Hailey property also includes a freestanding, 1,200-square-foot classroom built to The Center’s specifications in 2006.
Together, the house and classroom allow The Center to offer exhibitions, classes, workshops and small lectures and performances in a location convenient to the growing population of southern Blaine County. Annual Hailey events include a writer’s workshop each June, a Fourth of July ice cream social and several weeks of summer art camp for kids ages 5 and up.
The best fiddlers and musicians of all ages in the state gather for this weekend of foot-stoppin’, upbeat competition held at the beautiful Performing Arts Theater in Hailey each spring. Sponsored by the Fiddlers of Idaho.
TRAILING OF THE SHEEP FESTIVAL – Folklife Fair, Arts, Music, Dance
Photo credits: Carol Waller
For an authentic, inexpensive cultural heritage travel experience, check out the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival, held each mid-October in the Wood River Valley of Idaho. Every year the popular Trailing of the Sheep Festival celebrates the 150+ year tradition of moving sheep from mountain summer pastures south through the valley to traditional winter grazing and lambing areas. This annual migration is Idaho living history and a weekend long festival that highlights the people, arts, cultures, and traditions of sheep ranching in Idaho and the west. This is not a reenactment, but a real slice of the American west. This unique cultural heritage Festival, rated as one of the Top Ten Fall Festivals in the World by msn.com, has international appeal, drawing thousands each year.
*Authentic Sheep Folklife Fair in Hailey featuring Basque, Scottish, Polish and Peruvian dancers & music, sheep shearing and sheep camp cooking demonstrations, sheep wagon displays, storytelling sessions, wool product exhibits, classes, and children’s activities.
*Culinary events such as Cooking w/Idaho Lamb classes, For the Love of Lamb Foodie Fest, Lamb Feast & Lamb BBQ
*A Fiber Festival with classes in knitting, spinning & felting, a fleece competition, exhibits and special lectures by fiber experts.
*Special Exhibits on the history and culture of ranching in the West
*Championship Sheepdog Trials – watch the most talented border collies in the west
*Trailing of the Sheep Parade – witness a “wall of wool” featuring over 2000+ sheep trailing down Main Street in Ketchum!
Photo credits: Wood River Studio Tour
The event showcases more than 50 of the best visual artists working in the Wood River Valley via tours of their studios, including many Hailey artists. By showcasing the creative community within the Wood River Valley, the tour aims to inspire visitors to travel to the valley to experience first-hand the quality of locally produced art in this vibrant community, and the beauty of the valley’s natural environment. Art lovers, collectors, and those interested in learning more about art venture out on self-guided tours to see as many Studio Tour artists and their artworks as possible. The free event connects collectors with artists for engaging dialogue and an intimate glimpse into the life of the working artist. A public reception with the artist’s is also part of the weekend’s events.
Photo credits: Sun Valley Film Festival
Hailey is proud to a integral part of the annual Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF) , with film screenings throughout the weekend at its beautifully restored Liberty Theatre. The SVFF, recognized by USA Today as one of the “Great Places for a Film Festival,” rolls out the red carpet for filmmakers and movie lovers each March to celebrate the art of filmmaking and provide another great reason to visit Hollywood’s original ski Shangri-La.
The Sun Valley Film Festival began in 2011 and has quickly become a filmmaker’s festival in a place steeped in cinematic history, with a proven knack for drawing industry heavyweights and independent talents to an intimate locale far from the Hollywood scene. The combination of cutting-edge programming and bona-fide insider access in a fun, relaxed atmosphere is making the Sun Valley Film Festival a rising star in the world of destination festivals. As Hollywood legend and 2013 Festival special guest Jodie Foster put it, “Remember this festival as it is now, ‘cause it’s going to be big.” Great parties, dinners, special events, and sunny spring skiing top off this spirited and inspired festival weekend in Sun Valley.
Photo credits: BC Historical Museum, Carol Waller
At the Blaine County Historical Museum visitors can explore the Wood River Valley’s pioneer past, research family histories, and view vignettes of mines, schools, ranches, famous literary personalities, period fashions, and political memorabilia. Each display shows aspects of the life that early inhabitants and pioneers experienced. The museum also holds one of the country’s largest collections of political campaign buttons & memorabilia, reportedly only second in size to the one at the Smithsonian. Joe Fuld, born in Placerville, Idaho, in 1878, was a prominent Hailey businessman and the first president of the American Political Items Collectors Association. The display contains well over 5,000 items, some of which date back to the early 1820s.The museum is located on Main Street in Hailey. It was established in August, 1962, to “discover, procure and maintain whatever may relate to the history of Blaine County.”
Footlight Dance Company and other touring dance groups stage dance performances throughout the year at the Performing Arts Center in Hailey at the Community Campus.
BACK ALLEY PARTIES – WICKED SPUD
Photo credits: Hailey Chamber
Never underestimate the power of a simple act to make a big difference. Over a decade ago years ago two local friends started the weekly summer “Back Alley Parties” at the quaint Wicked Spud burger joint in Hailey with a simple formula of offering free local music and raising money for local area non-profits. This ‘Good Music for Good Causes” event has become immensely popular over the years, showcasing local bands & musicians and has raising thousands of dollars in support for the local community. Back Alley Parties – now the unofficial “place to be” in Hailey on any Wednesday night in the summer.
WOOD RIVER FARMERS MARKET, HAILEY – The Art of Natural Food
Photo credits: WR Farmer’s Markets
Everyone loves a Farmer’s Market and Hailey has one of the best around. The annual Wood River Farmer’s Market features producers selling fruits, vegetables and flowers seasonally available, honey, cheese, eggs, meats, along with lots of baked goods, artisan breads, pie and other desserts, jams, jellies, sauces, and dressings. Also some crafts including jewelry, pottery, handmade wood products, cutting boards, dog bowls and more. Different musicians are also featured each week. Market is located on Main Street in Hailey and is open 2-6pm each Thursday from June – September. www.wrfarmersmarket.org/hailey-market
AND THERE’S MORE
The Sun Valley Brewery highlights national touring musicians as well as locals routinely throughout the year, and other Hailey businesses, including DiVine, The Power House, KBs Burritos, offer live music on a regular basis.