Main Street: Ketchum, Idaho
Nowhere is the quirky spirit of the Mountain West stronger than on Main Street in Ketchum, Idaho. The main thoroughfare of this tiny town hosts unique festivals that are enhanced by its pedestrian-focused design.
The quarter-mile stretch of Main Street is bookended by River Street and 6th Street.
Standing on the pavement of Main Street in Ketchum, Idaho, walkers can enjoy a panorama of the surrounding mountains peering out from behind rows of cabin-like shops. One day out of the year, however, all eyes are diverted from the stunning peaks to the street, where more than a thousand sheep flood the street for the annual Trailing of the Sheep festival.
Every fall, local farmers herd some 1,500 sheep down Main Street south to winter pastures while locals celebrate homemade crafting, folk arts, and DIY Mountain West individualism. This one-of-a-kind festival is indicative of the spirit that makes Main Street in Ketchum a unique American street.
Though the town has fewer than 3,000 permanent residents, an influx of tourists every ski season created a need for excellent pedestrian infrastructure. Mature trees and planters tie in with outdoor seating and parks along the street. Restaurants have an abundance of outdoor seating for summer, and sidewalks are kept clear in the winter to ensure residents and tourists can get around easily.
A walkability plan established solar powered street lights along Main Street. Importantly, the street provides orientation and wayfinding for visitors through signage. There are plans for further improvements, including increased signage and future pedestrian and bike infrastructure. Residents figure the sheep won't mind.
Defining Characteristics, Features
- Main Street's architectural design includes log cabins, exposed timber, and historic renovated brick industrial space.
- A Main Street theater holds an annual Shakespeare Festival among other performances.
- Unique art installations such as Cover Art (utility boxes vinyl-wrapped with art) and StreetArt (manhole covers embossed with artwork) decorate Main Street and the downtown area.
- Memory Park, a plaza with splash pad designed by two long-time Ketchum residents, connects to the northern end of the street.
- The farmers' market takes place every Tuesday on 4th Street near the local grocery store and Town Square.
- Transit access along the street provides transportation to numerous areas in the region. Four bus routes are accessible along Main Street.
- There are plans to create a “Gateway Area of Ketchum,” renovating the four-block intersection between Main and River streets.
- On Labor Day weekend, Ketchum celebrates Wagon Days. More than 15,000 people line up along Main Street to watch one of the largest non-motorized parades in the Pacific Northwest. The parade features museum quality wagons, buggies, and stagecoaches. The grand finale is Ketchum’s own Big Hitch, the Lewis Ore Wagons: large freight wagons that are the best-preserved functioning wagons of their kind. They make the turn onto Main Street pulled by an authentic 20-mule jerk line.
- This year, Ketchum has added a free downtown street party and concert following the Saturday parade.
Pertinent Plans and Documents