Snake River Community Festival Returns to Downtown Nampa 

  • Kurt Stienke, Snake River Stampede Rodeo
With the Snake River Stampede Rodeo waiting in the gates to launch it's 100th anniversary, the Stampede Community Festival is leaving the arena this year and taking its celebration to the streets. For the first time since 1937, the Stampede Community Festival is returning to Downtown Nampa.

“I think the most exciting things is that it actually livens Downtown Nampa, it’s great for the merchants of Downtown," said Dan Ward, director of the Snake River Stampede Board. "It’s going to bring business Downtown, it’s going to bring the excitement of the rodeo back. The rodeo is one of the biggest draws to Nampa’s community there is for the year.”

The rodeo, one of Nampa's largest, crowd-drawing events, began as a small, ragtag operation in 1915 with a few local cowboys and a first place prize of $20. Now, an officially-sanctioned, competitive rodeo, the Snake River Stampede boasts a $400,000 payoff for cowboys from throughout the region.

The Stampede Community Festival kicks off the rodeo events on Friday, July 10, and Saturday, July 11.

“It’s a real big help, and it makes things exciting, it brings all these people… It’s a great opportunity for the community and for the Treasure Valley…Downtown was the best idea to do,” said Ward.

The Snake River Festival was officially reinstated as a separate event six years ago. However, it was held at the rodeo arena rather than Downtown Nampa, where it had originated. Ultimately, the team of Stampede directors, including Ward and Ken Nicodemus, the president of the board, and the Downtown Coordinator, Lisa Levings, a decision was made to bring the festival back to its downtown roots.

“They decided last fall to move the festival back Downtown, partly because it was the 100th anniversary. We started doing the planning last November…There’s been a lot of business owners who have told me they remember when there were more rodeo events and things downtown. A lot of people have asked if those things could come back,” said Levings.

The two-day festival will include live music, vendors, the Nampa Fire Department Barbeque on Friday night from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m., and then after that, an old-fashioned street dance. Saturday will feature an equine parade at 10 a.m. and live music, vendors, and food throughout the day. Downtown merchants and regulars say they are excited to see the festival draw business, but even more than that, for the fun, community-oriented events to come.

“It’s Nampa’s festival. It’s Nampa’s rodeo. It belongs to Nampa…it seems like they lost that feeling. We just want to bring that back,” said Nicodemus. 

  • Kurt Stienke, Snake River Stampede Rodeo

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