Now in its 78th year, Winthrop’s ’49er Days is an old west heritage festival that recalls the Methow Valley’s colorful past. The three days of activities — Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 12-14 — are presented by the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce and Sun Mountain Lodge. Other sponsors include the Washington Outfitters and Guides Association (WOGA), Pardner’s Mini Market, East 20 Pizza, VIP Cascades Insurance Agency, Winthrop Ace Hardware, Methow Valley Thriftway, Three Fingered Jack’s, Timberline Teeshirts, Bear Creek Golf Course, Farmers State Bank and Shotgun Nellies.
Here’s a schedule of events to help plan your weekend. The activities are free unless otherwise noted.
FRIDAY, MAY 12
• Noon: The annual WOGA Ride to Rendezvous wagon train arrives in downtown Winthrop along Riverside Avenue. Watch the horses and wagons ride through town after spending five days on the Methow Valley’s backcountry trails.
SATURDAY, MAY 13
• 10:30 a.m.: The West Coast Country Heat dancing team returns for its 25th appearance, on Riverside Avenue.
• 11 a.m.: The annual ’49er Days parade proceeds up Riverside Avenue, featuring pack strings, horses, floats, music, mountain men, old-time vehicles and much more. Look for this year’s ’49er Days Grand Lady Judy Burkhart and Marshal Aaron Burkhart, as well as junior royalty Queen Rio Bourn Lott and princess Zoe Kaltenbach. You’ll see them around town throughout the weekend as well. Prizes will be awarded for the best entries in each category.
• Noon-2 p.m.: Old-fashioned games for kids in front of Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe on Riverside Avenue, including egg toss, pie-eating, hula hoop, egg relay, rock-paper-scissors and gummi bear spitting.
• 6 p.m.: line dancing lessons will be offered by West Coast Country Heat.
• 7 p.m.: Family barn dance sponsored by the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce, featuring music by the Wild Turkeys. Admission is $10; kids 12 and under are free.
Mack Lloyd Park
• Noon: Winthrop Kiwanis will offer barbecue pulled pork sandwiches until 2 p.m. or until they sell out.
• Noon-6 p.m., WOGA members will gather for visiting, festive old-time music and story-telling. Follow the crowds to the Mountain Man Camp, where you can try your hand at ax-tossing. Look for local vendors in the park, and visit displays by the Okanogan and Wenatchee Nations for an authentic Native Peoples’ representation. There will be an open mic at the band shell — cowboy songs and poetry are encouraged.
• 5-6:30 p.m.: WOGA’s annual outfitters dinner will be served, including steak, barbecue and Dutch oven fixings, for $25.
SUNDAY, MAY 8
Mack Lloyd Park
• 8-10 a.m.: WOGA offers a Mother’s Day cowboy breakfast. Cost is $10.
• 10 a.m.: packers’ demonstration.
For more information, visit https://winthropwashington.com/events/old-west-festival; or http://www.woga.org
Shafer Historical Museum open
The Shafer Historical Museum on Castle Avenue opens for the season during ’49er Days. The museum buildings will be open, and docents available, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (May 12-14) from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; the grounds and outdoor displays are open during all daylight hours. The museum can also be accessed by a stairway on Highway 20 across from the Hotel Rio Vista. Admission is by donation; suggested minimum is $5 per adult. Kids are free. The Shafer will be open Fridays through Sundays throughout May. For more information, visit www.shafermuseum.org.